“We all love to play, but that’s really not why we started all this. It wasn’t because we wanted to play, it was because we had a purpose […] We’ve always been pretty adamant and vocal about our message. It’s just to know that it’s okay to be messed up because there are five dudes that are just as messed up as you and we’ve overcome that in order to do what we do.”
– Gerard Way.
Before I go on I think I ought to say that my knowledge of My Chemical Romance stems from a minor obsession with 3-4 songs way back when I was 17, reading the posts from the week when OWOB covered them, and watching a LOT of videos on YouTube over the past week. In a lot of ways I feel like I missed out by not being more involved online in my teens, especially when I start reading about bands that are now broken up. This is similar to how I felt when I started to really listen to The Libertines about a year ago, and while they are now getting back together to make new music, it doesn’t seem like that’s in the plans for MCR, at least not right now.
I started this post with a quote by Gerard Way from a ‘Life on the Murder Scene’ video diary, and it kind of sums up what I like about the band. Whenever a musician starts talking about a ‘mission’ or ‘message’ I tend to side-eye it a bit. I enjoy music, I love how it can impact society, what it can mean to people, etc., but for some reason I tend to be a bit sceptical about this idea of musicians making it their mission to change the lives of their audience. But watching all the video diaries, as well as occasional interviews, I think I’ve come to appreciate the band and their vision more than I expected to. Because the impression I’ve gotten from my limited time ‘researching’ it is that they just want to normalise being ‘not normal’. That it’s okay to not feel good about everything, but not in a way that glorifies depression.
Other things I love about the band: their commitment to theatricality in rock music, their concept albums, their lyrics, the band – Gerard Way in particular – and their tendency to stand up for young girls who get criticised and exploited because they love the band. They seem like cool guys in the ways that matter, and I love a musician who stands up for their fans.
Let me just briefly talk about a few of the songs I love.
I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
I had never heard this song until about a year ago when my friend and I were discussing bands we remembered being into when we were younger. In hindsight I find that so hard to believe, because this is totally a song that would have been the anthem of my youth if I had ever come across it back then. My high school years were not spent as an outcast (I attended a school that didn’t have those kinds of cliques), but I’d had a shitty time at school before that and was generally way into the emo band scene at the time, so this would have fit perfectly. I appreciate the sentiment that it’s okay to not be okay. I feel like a lot of the time growing up, when I wasn’t okay, it was made worse because I wasn’t supposed to feel that way. So whatever helps normalise feeling shitty sometimes is probably a good thing.
The Black Parade
Honestly, this entire album is great. ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’, ‘I Don’t Love You’ and ‘Teenagers’ were the songs I did hear of when I was first introduced to the band, and they were played a lot in my student housing at the time. I never really sat down to listen to the album in full until 3 days ago. I wish I had, because it’s great. I love that MCR became The Black Parade, that they wrote an entire album about The Patient and his journey through death, and that even though it’s a concept album and so theatrical in its presentation and touring, the songs work really well as stand-alones too. I honestly like nearly all of the songs on this album, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll just mention my favourites.
“Haaaaaave you heard the news that you’re dead?” has been sung around my house a lot over the last couple of days, much to my housemates’ worry, I think. My sister has started singing it herself, but then again she’s used to my brand of eccentricity. I don’t really have much else to say about this song other than that it is super catchy.
The Sharpest Lives
This was the first song I I fell in love with that I had not already heard that. I love the line “if it looks like I’m laughing I’m really just asking to leave” a lot, for no great reason. I don’t know what the song is about, and it doesn’t matter to me that I don’t know. I just really like it. I woke up yesterday with it stuck in my head, which is usually a good sign that it’s a song I love.
Famous Last Words
This is the fourth and last song I knew from back in my teens, and probably the one I used to love the most. I love how the bridge builds with each repetition, I love how crazy Gerard Way looks in the music video, and I love the line “awake and unafraid”. The song has always come across to me as a song about overcoming obstacles, and just today I watched the behind the scenes video for their music video where they talk about how it was written when the band was in a dark period and were experiencing a lot of personal problems. They all talk about how it brought them out of that and gave them a renewed will to keep going, and that really comes across for me in the music as well.
I don’t really know what this song is about. I have read that it – like Famous Last Words – was written when the band was experiencing some dark times, but I don’t know how legitimate those claims are. I have read theories that the song is about relationships between band members and other bands, that it’s about the band’s relationship with the music industry, or with the fans. For me personally it reads as the band contemplating and possibly doubting their success and position as a band, especially considering the story behind Famous Last Words, as well as lyrics like this one: ”If I’m so wrong, can you listen to me all night long?”. In addition to that lyric, I love lines like “I hate the ending myself, but it started with an alright scene”, and “You’re just a sad song, with nothing to say.”
I don’t really feel any level of attachment to any of the songs off ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love” or “Danger Days” at the moment, so I won’t write about any of them. I appreciate The Kids From Yesterday and what it says lyrically about loving music and how it can be applied to bands ending.