Behind The Song: “My December” by Linkin Park

It was twenty years ago today, December 15, 2000, that Linkin Park released this beautiful ode to December. Now in mid-December, the last month of 2020, its somber tones have grown even darker and more poignant.

Written by guitarist-singer Mike Shinoda while the band was on tour, it was recorded in Nashville. It is one of the band’s most gentle songs, as it was intended for the KROQ Christmas show and album. Mike said it was about being on the road and missing home.

But it has taken on more gravity over the years. Sung mostly by the late Chester Bennington, it’s considered his story by many. He hanged himself in 2017, and since his death that tragedy lives in into this song, and in the chain of sorrows, to borrow a John Prine line. Chester’s suicide came on his friend Chris Cornell’s birthday. Cornell had also hanged himself two months before that. Chester was devastated by, as he wrote, a world without Chris. He didn’t stay in it long.

All that sorrow is infused into this song, sung by Chester. Performing it live in Fairfax, Virginia in 2002, he introduced it with excitement.

“Right now we’d like to do a song that’s not on the album,” he said, referring to the recently-released Hybrid Theory. “We did it for a charity album for a radio station in LA a couple of Christmases ago… What was amazing was, that Mike wrote this song in about two hours, man. It was fucking unbelievable. Unbelievable. We recorded in Nashville in a place where fucking Elvis used to record, man. That was kind of creepy, you know what I mean? It worked out pretty well, I think.”

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