Saturday, July 22, 2017

Chester Bennington and the Siren's Call

Well, it happened again. Another prominent figure in music gone too soon. More pain and heartache. Like we needed more.

Chester Bennington was best known as the singer for Linkin Park- probably the last of the multiplatinum rock acts- as well as for briefly stepping in for the late Scott Weiland in Stone Temple Pilots.

Bennington was also a sexual abuse survivor who struggled- really struggled- with substance abuse and depression. As with his close friend Chris Cornell†, Bennington used his music to channel his inner pain. 

He was also an incredibly hard-working man and a father of six who was upfront about his struggles but seemed unable to escape the ghosts of his past. According to friends he was deeply shaken by Cornell's death and apparently committed suicide on the Soundgarden singer's birthday (Cornell died on the same date as Joy Division singer Ian Curtis did in 1980).

And as we'll see, Chester Bennington was also shadowed by the Siren, the ascendant archetype-slash-entity that seems to be claiming some of pop culture's leading lights as her consorts as she slowly takes over the world.  

The Siren ties back to Atargatis aka Derceto, the Syrian incarnation of Ishtar who was also the first mermaid. Like Ishtar and any number of other manifestations Atargatis was known for her love for a doomed shepherd-boy, who was often also a singer.  

The original model in the line was Inanna, whom the world's first emperor Sargon the Great dedicated his life to. Sargon was the model for every would-be world conqueror to follow. Many scholars believe that he was also the model for Nimrod.

Like all her other incarnations, Atargatis was served by transgendered and/or eunuch priests and her temples were also brothels (Ishtar would take no offense if you called her the "Whore of Babylon"). 

Atargatis' temples were also so full of physically-imposing Hittite priestesses that they gave rise to the Amazon myth, which I believe is kind of a thing this summer as well.

As many of you know, I believe this entity somehow possessed and/or channeled herself through Scottish singer Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins- who recorded a number of songs in her honor, including a haunting rendition of Tim Buckley's "Song of the Siren"- for fifteen years. Don't ask me to explain how or why.  I believe the Siren also left her fingerprints all over the damn place.

The Siren was associated with using music as a form of enchantment and Fraser was accused in the early 1980s of practicing subliminal sorcery with her baffling lyrics (which can actually get pretty witchy) and non-Euclidean vocals.*

Little did anyone realize at the time that Fraser also seemed to be practicing divination. Practicing it with alarming success, at that.

Even the staid iTunes says "their early recordings suggested that these three Scottish upstarts were already in touch with ancient and otherworldly forces."

Yeah. Were they ever.

And now the Siren is one of the most dominant symbols in the entire world. Starbucks has even removed their name from their logo, making the Siren alone their brand identity. So she's practically everywhere.

And as we've seen in recent weeks the death of Chris Cornell and the rebirth of Twin Peaks all seem to tie into this unfolding psychodrama. 

In fact, four days before Bennington's death, singer Rebekah Del Rio appeared on Twin Peaks to sing "No Stars." Her guitarist was none other than Moby, who has remixed both Soundgarden and Linkin Park.

Del Rio was introduced in David Lynch's Mulholland Dr as "La Llorona de Los Angeles." La Llorona is the Mexican equivalent of the Siren.

Now this might sound insane and impossible to some of you, as well it should; all of it is completely insane and impossible. But facts are facts and they all point in one direction.

In an interlude we looked at the symbolism attached to the swan (and Swan Song records) and it's connection to this drama. And astonishingly, the video taken by Associated Press shows a swan visually conjoined to Bennington that also seems to mirror his movements.

The swan is also linked to the Siren.

Bennington stunned Cornell's friends and family with a rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", a formerly-obscure track which was made famous by Elizabeth Fraser's lost love Jeff Buckley, just as she had done with his father's "Song to the Siren." Buckley too was close to Chris Cornell.

Linkin Park's One More Light album was released the day after Chris Cornell's death, all the more tragically since the title track was about death and loss. The band performed the song that night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, which happens to be taped at the Hollywood Masonic Temple, of all places. 

There's a Masonic lodge on the grounds of the Hollywood Forever cemetery as well. I mean, what cemetery doesn't have one, right?

The art for the album and its singles is eerily reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins' longform video Rilkean Dreams, which is both Elizabeth Fraser's love-letter to Jeff Buckley and an absolutely bone-chilling omen of his death.

A previous Linkin Park album showed the band facing the ocean as well. 

I should probably mention here that Linkin Park asked Elizabeth Fraser to sing on one of their records but the reclusive singer turned them down. 

The band may have been inspired by this remix of "The Walking Dead," which featured the original Chester Bennington take with a mashup of Massive Attack's "Teardrop", yet another Fraser love-letter/death omen.

The cover art for Linkin Park's latest single features an abstract image of light reflecting on water, a image well-familiar to Cocteau Twins fans. It also appears at the beginning of the Rilkean Dreams and "Song to the Siren" videos.

Bennington seemed especially taken with underwater imagery. Both shoulders were emblazoned with large and elaborate fish designs.

Promotional art for Linkin Park's 2014 album The Hunting Party was rife with Siren symbolism, created by illustrator James Jean.

One version featured eyes uncannily similar (yet considerably less unsettling) to Fraser's when she was under the influence of the Siren, like in the "Heaven or Las Vegas" video where her eyes are disturbingly incandescent.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Bennington lived on Via Victoria in Palos Verdes. Unsurprisingly- given the chain's saturation presence in Southern California- there are no less than three Starbucks within a short distance of his home. 

Victoria is not only the name of Chris Cornell's widow it's also in the name of the Cocteau Twins' fourth studio album, Victorialand. Victoria, also known as Nike, was the daughter of the goddess Styx, who lent her name to the River of Death.

Via Victoria is bordered by Lunada Canyon, named in honor of the Mexican full moon festival that brought villagers together to sing and play music. Coincidentally, the Cocteaux' album after Victorialand was The Moon and the Melodies.

Do note the subliminal dragonfly silhouette hidden in the album's cover art, which I've helpfully outlined for you.

In German lore, the dragonfly is variously known as Wasserhexe ("Water witch") and Hollenross ("Goddess' horse"). 

The dragonfly was an important motif to the early Linkin Park as well. Here you the famous soldier with dragonfly wings on the cover of their multiplatinum Hybrid Theory album.

Coincidentally, the Siren is also a hybrid, whether in her original birdwoman incarnation or her later mermaid incarnation.

Oddly enough, fan videos of Linkin Park songs also feature Siren and mermaid imagery, even those predating The Hunting Party, like this one featuring human-alien hybrid supermodel Lily Cole...

 ... and a number of videos from 2007 mashing up Linkin Park and The Little Mermaid.

Don't ask me why.

On a slightly more ominous note, Linkin Park also lifted the title from Killing Joke's 1986 album Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, which was released on Jeff Buckley's 20th birthday. Longtime Secret Sun readers understand it's not a real good idea to piss off The Joke. (Incidentally, Chris Cornell is on record in claiming Killing Joke as his inspiration for forming Soundgarden).

In addition to appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Linkin Park played Las Vegas the day after Chris Cornell died, reminding us that the Cocteau Twins played Las Vegas and taped their appearance on The Tonight Show the day Kurt Cobain's body was found

Linkin Park were scheduled to play Las Vegas again in September at the MGM Grand Arena. Chris Cornell died in the MGM Grand in Detroit, a fact that seems all the more eerie given that these tour dates were almost certainly booked several months ago.

And of course Las Vegas is so very important in this entire saga.

I told the folks over at the Facebook page that the Siren was not finished gathering up new consorts and unfortunately it appears I was right.

NOTE: Linkin Park inspiration/rivals/sometime collaborators The Deftones covered the Cocteaux' rather disturbing "Wax and Wane."

† As with Weiland I think Chris Cornell might have had more abuse in his jacket than he was willing to share. Elizabeth Fraser was also a victim of longterm sexual abuse.

* Fraser inspired otherwise committed atheists to reach for the lexicon of the supernatural when confronted with her otherworldly caterwauling. One British reviewer said he heard a "nameless terror" and a "demon'" in her voice, adding she "seemed at war with something inside herself." This was a review of a 1986 show, a period when Fraser's voice sounded only theoretically human.