10 Most Intense Lyrics From Mike Shinoda's Solo Album 'Post Traumatic' | Revolver

10 Most Intense Lyrics From Mike Shinoda's Solo Album 'Post Traumatic'

Linkin Park MC grapples with Chester Bennington's suicide on emotional new LP
linkin park mike shinoda PRESS 2018, Warner Bros.
Mike Shinoda, 2018
courtesy of Warner Bros.

Mike Shinoda's life was completely changed when his longtime Linkin Park bandmate and close friend Chester Bennington committed suicide in 2017. Not only is he dealing with one of the most devastating things that could ever happen to him, but he's also had to do so in the public eye, as the surviving lead vocalist of an internationally beloved rock band. Since Bennington's death, we've all been witness to Shinoda's grieving process as it has played out across his social media accounts, as well as onstage at last year's poignant tribute concert to Linkin Park's fallen singer.

Shinoda's grief and attempt to cope has also manifested in his first solo album, Post Traumatic. There's no way to quantify what lyrics are most emotional, or which lyrics have the most resonance by any universal measure, but we looked at what Mike wrote for the record and some of his words hit us particularly hard. His lyrics will surprise listeners — certain lines will catch people off guard with their raw openness and blunt force. Here are 10 excerpts that strike us as the most intense, along with our readings of them.

"Promises I Can't Keep"

What's the difference between a loss and a forfeit
I tried to make it better but I made it more sick
I tried to make it right but now awake at night
I know reality was getting in the way
I used to think that I knew who I was
Never saw it coming unglued
I used to think that I knew who I was
Now it's time to see if it's true

Is there any greater moment for self-reflection than when you're forced to figure out what to do with your own life following the death of someone extremely close to you? It's this huge question that Shinoda asks at the very beginning of the record and that sets the tone for the rest of the album that follows.

"Running From My Shadow"

Light side's got a dark side to it
Daytime flows
into night like fluid
The yin and the yang with a curved line through it
And none of it's illuminating why I do it
Maybe I didn't want to chase what was not right
Maybe I didn't want to face you were offsides
Thinking I was far away from a crossed line
But I was giving soft praise to a hard lie
There are things that you say and you don't say
My tongue's
gotten real tired of me biting it
'Cause I keep on following the wrong way
Time's come and I can't keep denying it
There are times when I kick myself
Say I'm not sick but I can't get well
Say I got this while I chase my tail
As if they can't tell

Shinoda digs deep, admitting feelings of hopelessness in regards to what's happening in his life, and a sense of being stuck, his emotions ebbing and flowing but always returning to where they were.

"Over Again"

How do you feel/How you doing/How'd the show go?
Am I insane to say the truth is that I don't know

My body aches/Head's spinning this is all wrong
I almost lost it in middle of a couple songs
And everybody that I talk to is like, "Wow
Must be
reallyhard to figure what to do now"
Well, thank you genius/You think it'll be a challenge
Only my life's work hanging in the fucking balance
And all I wanted was to get a little bit of closure
And every step I took I looked and wasn't any closer
Cause sometimes when you say goodbye yeah you say it
Over and over and over and over

"Over again" was one of the first songs Shinoda released in advance of Post Traumatic, and the first example of how real he would get in the lyrics. Throughout the song, he recalls the process of getting the band together to rehearse for the Bennington tribute concert, his frustration over all the onslaught of obvious questions he was faced with following his bandmate's death, and the prospect of possibly having to constantly say goodbye in song without ever getting substantial closure.

"Nothing Makes Sense Anymore"

I used to sleep without waking up
a dream I made from painted walls
I was a moment away
from done
When the black spilled out across it all
And my eyes were made sober

World was turned over
Washing out the lines I'd seen
And my heart is still breaking
Now that I awaken
No one's left to answer me

The song starkly describes the psychological horror that Shinoda faced after Bennington's suicide. He makes reference to the color of his world being blacked out, and life seeming somehow even worse than what he could have dreamed.

"Make It Up as I Go"

Woke up this morning holding my head
Thinking last night is one I'll regret
Washing off the bad decisions/The blurry vision
The clues that I'm still a mess
Spitting out the taste I have in my mouth
Knowing what this all is really about
Knowing there's an explanation/An expiration
I gotta figure shit out

Shinoda goes in depth about how he tried to cope with the tragedy in his life, but couldn't seem to get anywhere — as he says elsewhere in the song, he keeps finding himself "running backwards." The song's chorus shows him stepping away from reality, losing sight of the man he thought he was and feeling further and further isolated.


Tell 'em take an I.O.U.
Say they want respect now/Thinking they deserve to have it next now
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.
Believing what they're making up/Talking loud but never really saying much
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.

I been drawing plans out/And they think I'm giving them a handout
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.
Thinking they're entitled to a piece no/I don't think so
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.

In a refreshingly braggadocios song, Shinoda takes a break in the middle of his misery to find some brief moments of fun, slapping down critics who have dogged on his music in the past. Even in the state he's in, he recognizes he still has the ability to put out powerful material. 

"Hold It Together"

They say that they sympathize
I'm grateful they take the time
But bringing it up at
this six-year-old's birthday
It kinda fucks up my vibe
We end on an awkward note
I make the most awkward joke
Too dark to be funny/I shouldn't have come it'd be
Weird to go
home and I'm struggling

One of the most poignant things Shinoda captures on the album is how grief remains even when you're trying to do something casual or everyday, like going to a kid's birthday party. Here, he's briefly shut out the dark circumstances that looms large over his life, but suddenly is put in an awkward position where he doesn't want to ruin the mood of the party and his response comes out regrettably. It's an aspect of tragedy that rarely gets touched on in song — the subtle ways in which the pain corrupts even mundane moments.

Crossing a Line

They'll tell you I don't care anymore
And I hope you'll know that's a lie
Cause I've found what I have been waiting for
But to get there means crossing a line

I don't know how to warn you/For what I'm gonna say
Cause you're holding so tight to/What I'm taking away
I got demons inside me/So I'm faced with a choice
Either try to ignore them/Or I give them a voice

On "Crossing a Line," Shinoda faces head on the question of whether or not Linkin Park will continue, whether or not it's worth continuing. Elsewhere in the song, he admits to not necessarily knowing what's next or what's going on, but says that he'll continue on his path, trusting in his feeling that he's doing the right thing.

"Can't Hear You Now"

Come come again/Feel it when it's flooding in
Woke up knowing I don't have to be numb again
Starting line scratched out, I don't have to run again

Give a fucks maxed out/Tell 'em I'm not coming in
I'm not present on the payroll
And you can tell me I should do it 'cause you say so
But I'm not dancing to the rhythm you replay no
'Cause I'm already half a million miles away though/They know

Life is changed forever when someone close dies, and there isn't much getting around that. However, in this song Shinoda starts to come around on the near-constant sadness that has infected his life since Bennington's death, and he's able to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, or at least the edge of a new starting line.

"About You"

No, there's not a single thing that I can say
Not a single solitary/Every meaning changes shape
Even when there's no connection back to you in any line
All the sudden it's about you and it gets me every time but
What the fuck is left to author anyway
When I basically been writing since the Raiders ran LA
I'm afraid that maybe I've said everything there is to say
Maybe I should make an exit while there're ways to get away, cause

The last song on the album sees Shinoda addressing Bennington directly, telling his friend how everything he's ever written or continues to write centers around him in his head. His final revelation is that there aren't words to accurately describe his feelings perfectly and never have been, through all the time that he's been writing music. It's a farewell, but also an open-ended conclusion.