If you’ve been following my writings, you’d have noticed that not only am I an avid lover and follower of music (of whatever kind and type) but in fact, with some preference for Rock (https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/rock-music-and-me/) and Reggae music, above others that fill my eclectic frame. Reggae was popular in Nigeria by the time I was born, and Bob Marley records, with Peter Tosh and others was always around me growing up, either in the house or at neighbors and friends. Rock was just a few times on TV, until ROCK RADIO with Dennis “The Menace” Ogi, on Nigeria’s first private radio station, RayPower 100 FM provided me the stable weekly dose I craved at the time. Though prior to that there’d been some other program on the government owned, Radio Nigeria on 97.7 FM (Sunshine Station or some other appellation by which it was known in the eighties and nineties) but it wasn’t quite as intensive and informative as Dennis’, whose whereabouts I cannot now say I know.
The next and most influential phase of Rock gush for me, was in Medical School, aided by Femo Lala (who helped me dub audio DSTV radio onto tapes) and Pavan (who copied Rock tracks from his desktop to CDs when that became the thing), and then avidly listening to Rick Dees on the WEEKLY TOP 40 on weekends. Nowhere else in Lagos at the time could you find a congregation of that much people who are into Rock music, and unashamedly blasted such 🎶 with the latest of sound systems (bought with bursary/scholarship money, or pocket money from wealthy parents, at a time wealthy and influential Nigerian parents still sent their children to public schools in Nigeria), especially those students that spend every other summer outside of Nigeria.
Rock music appealed (and still does, as last year it was ANATHEMA’s “One Last Goodbye” that brought me some solace following the death of my Dad and Elder Sister) to me then because of the inner demons I had to contend with, not because I was dealing with a drug problem, I wasn’t even drinking at the time, and for a few years afterwards. I was trying to understand me, I couldn’t be superficial, and I read meanings into just about anything, while questioning everything. My introduction to Linkin Park came via Pavan when he included their first album in an MP3 CD he made me. The only artiste whose chant got me in a strange way, off sound systems from adjacent hostel buildings was of Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan’s voice in “Zombie“, before Chester Benningtons’ wafted into my ears in CRAWLING,
and I got hooked to and on Linkin Park. My medical student years, in the midst of Rock addicts would become one of the most enjoyable periods of my life. It was at Broderick’s House during our graduation thirteen years ago, that I heard Numb/Encore, a joint effort between Linkin Park and Jay Z for the first time, and to this day Chester Bennington’s eternal “What The Hell Are You Waiting Foooor-oooor” chant remains my anthem, to get up and go achieve something.
Outside of MediLag, I had to become a musical recluse listening to Rock Music only in my head, having as the only motivation to emigrate to the West, the peace to enjoy all of Rock without the judgemental steer you’d get off Nigerians. I was at one point sternly warned by a certain Major Lawal in the wee hours of one morning at the Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Residential Block, during my Housemanship over the noise from my apartment, and once a patient asked for music to take her mind off things, and I obliged her by playing music from my phone despite my initial reluctance, and warning that she may not like the kind of music I listen to but yet she insisted. I sensed her unease during the treatment as songs from Evanescence, gave way to Nickelback, to Linkin Park, to Creed, to SOAD, Metallica and more while the treatment lasted. She never returned, not even for routine check up even though it was apparent to me that I hadn’t done her a bad job. Thereafter, when patients made such a request, we opted for music off their phone, while I offer my Surround Sound Headphones to help block the sounds of headpieces and other gadgets I use, if and when they cared for such.
When I learnt that Chester Bennington had gone the way of Rockstars like Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, I was hurt. It was just days after I had read on Okechukwu’s facebook timeline that he’d watched him perform with Mike Shinoda in Birmingham, and I in envy had responded with a “Choi” seeing that such a thing will never happen in Nigeria, when even the hip-hop that reigns here haven’t welcomed much A-listers in their prime, compared to the situation in other African countries we claim to be bigger and better than. Chester Bennington’s suicide two days ago, on what was supposedly the birthday of his late friend Chris Cornell at whose funeral he sang “Halleluyah” (https://twitter.com/LPLive/status/868232848658108417) in May leaves me in a quandary as to whether one event had something to do with the other. I hate to think that he estimated his friendship with a late friend over and above that of his family, including his children in what the choice of the day he decided to commit suicide might suggest, but what do I know?
One of the things that led me to Rock Music, was how the singers could vocalise my thoughts and frustrations. I wondered if any of them have lived through my realities to so eloquently put forth the words that make up the lyrics to their hit songs, including the not so hit ones. Chester Bennington spoke my mind many times, while Mike Shinoda (whose involvement with INTO THE BADLANDS drew me to seeing all of that TV series, initially because of the soundtrack) put same into the rap aspect of their efforts in Linkin Park. I have always been aware of the use and abuse of drugs amongst musicians, moreso amongst those blazing the trail in the Rock genre, including the fact that many of them battle with addictions, which sometimes they claim inspired some of the greatest work of art these music icons, of which many of them are and were, have ever done. Unfortunately, many times over, they made these phenomenal and eternal songs at the expense of their lives, even while still alive.
I will miss Chester Bennington not just because he made good music, but because (and most importantly) in his songs, I found that I wasn’t alone in my troubles, even though nothing he sang helped provide a solution to challenges I faced (and still face) while listening to his songs. Reading about his problems at the dawn of the internet age helped me appreciate even better the wider meanings to his songs, that he wasn’t kidding at all, or trying to sell records, rather he’d been at his most honest, though on the other hand, all of that brought him fame and wealth. It is sad to have to see him go this way, especially considering that the tendency to follow in his footsteps remain rife amongst those who religiously rely on the lyrics of his songs for healing, as well as just about anybody, who might be finding it difficult to hang on, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and need not just to be told that “this also will pass”, but see others passing through same or worse, not succumbing to the pressure to let go.