This song manifests that nasty feeling that something is crawling under your skin. Much of the lyric delivered by Chester Bennington deals with the side effects of taking methamphetamines - a drug he used throughout his teens. The anxiety, hallucinations and a feeling of things crawling under his skin. The song, though, can apply to anyone feeling uncomfortable and helpless.
In the video, the girl (played by Katelyn Rosaasen) is physically abused by her father. At the beginning, we can see all her bruises. Many of the lyrics demonstrate how hard it is to break the cycle of abuse ("These wounds, they will not heal" and "It's haunting, how I can't seem to find myself again, my walls are closing in"), and how self-confidence is crushed. The blue crystal background closes in on her at the beginning of the first chorus - this shows an emotional shell that she has built around her. The thick make-up is like a mask, trying to hide what's going on inside. The septum ring is designed to link with Chester's lip ring. When the girl walks away from her boyfriend, it's because she's too scared to get close to people. This is also true for the high school bathroom scene. When Chester sings, "Against my will I stand beside my own reflection," he and Katelyn are looking at each other. She looks like she wants to get out of the shell she's in. She also sees painful memories from her past in the crystal. When the second chorus starts, the crystal begins to break and chunks of it are flying about - this is her shell falling down. It represents her father's departure, as does her smiling at the end with the roses in the vase. She's not wearing the thick make-up because she doesn't feel like she needs the protection of a mask - she's got nothing to hide from.
Abbey - Essex, England, for above for above 2
This won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. At the time, Shinoda wasn't too clear on what the award meant, thinking it was akin to best rock song. Later, he understood it referred to the studio performance, which, he told Kerrang in 2020, was entirely due to Bennington's vocals. "His vocal in that song, it was even hard for him to do some nights on tour, and it's impossible for anybody else to sing it that well," he said. "Every other cover of it is a mere shadow of the Chester performance of the song."
This was the second single off Hybrid Theory, the best selling album of 2001 in the US.
The video was nominated for Best Rock video on MTV's Video Music Awards. It lost to Limp Bizkit's "Rollin."
Chester Bennington told Rolling Stone magazine 2002: "The song is about taking responsibility for your actions. I don't say 'you' at any point. It's about how I'm the reason that I feel this way. There's something inside me that pulls me down."
There is a remixed version of this song on Reanimation
, their 2002 CD which contained remixes of the songs from Hybrid Theory
and a couple of new songs. The remix features Staind's Aaron Lewis on vocals.
Nick - Paramus, NJ, for above 2
In the CD booklet, the lyrics "These wounds, they will not heal" were incorrectly written as "Consuming all I feel."
Chester Bennington claimed it was hard to perform this song live due to his own personal experience similar to the problems in the song. He felt as though his past drug addiction, to crystal meth and other hard drugs such as cocaine, was literally under his skin. In an interview he said: "'Crawling' has caused me the most trouble live more than any other song. 'Crawling' is about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol." He also called it "the most literal song lyrically I'd ever written for Linkin Park."
Bertrand - Paris, France
Chris Cornell, who was one of the acts on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution festival in 2008, joined the band to perform this song throughout the tour. Cornell and Chester Bennington were good friends; in 2017, they both died from suicide two months apart.
Bennington explained in a 2001 interview how the song relates to self-esteem issues: "In a song like 'Crawling,' we are talking about self-consciousness or the lack of self-confidence. That's a big part of that song because when you get into those situations with a lot of people looking at you, you find faults in yourself and you get nervous and want to change them. Things like that are really charged topics to be talking about, and when we started to write lyrics we found ourselves energized and interested in writing these songs and going after them with a lot of intensity. Sitting in front of a computer thinking about the crap you did before you go to bed, that you thought you could have done better – that will freak you out sometimes."
Brad Delson, the band's lead guitarist, said this song is an example of how Bennington's vocal talent helped Linkin' Park improve their songwriting. He told Madison.com: "What happened when Chester joined the group, we moved from 'Hey, these are the kind of singing parts we want,' to 'Wow, these are singing parts that we never even thought of,' because his range and versatility are such that, like 'Crawling,' who would think to write that melody? You couldn't because there are very few people in the world that could probably sing that. So that's an example of when I say he really expanded our writing ability in the sense that he has such a range vocally. He really was kind of the final piece of the puzzle, and he brings vocal talent that, when we were looking for a second vocalist, we didn't see anything close to his talent in anybody else."
According to Mike Shinoda, the chorus lyric, "Fear is how I fall," came from producer Don Gilmore mishearing the actual line, "Fear is powerful." Shinoda told Kerrang in 2020: "He just heard it wrong, and he heard a really great line."