Beyond the Black Parade – Part I

Lukas Luna, Co-Copy Editor

To say My Chemical Romance’s return has sparked a renewed appreciation for their work is an understatement. Ever since the golden child of 2000s emo has announced reformation, everyone from the most “refined” music journalist to the average fan has been confessing to being huge fans of the band all along. 

 

While it might be easy to dismiss all this recent fervor around the group as simply the result of a bandwagon mentality, most long time fans seem to be willing to just appreciate the love their favorite act is now getting. 

 

But despite all the newfound appreciation for the New Jersey band, it seems as if one of the most powerful aspects of the band is being totally forgotten. Sure, their songs are catchy with great hooks, their lyrics strike close to home for those with teenage angst, and they had an unabashed edge that is hard not to love. However, all of this only plays second fiddle when compared to the story they were telling. 

 

At their core, My Chemical Romance was made up of storytellers who were dedicated to telling a singular story across the span of three albums. It was a story of struggle, of defeat, and ultimately, one of triumph.  

 

The band’s album spanning narrative begins in full on their 2004 sophomore release, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. While 2002’s I Brought My Bullets, You Brought Your Love was their first full-length output, the scrappy nature of the album makes it clear their only ambition with the project was to release a record. That is not the case for their follow-up. 

 

The album’s story begins in earnest on the second track, Give ‘em Hell, Kid, as we are introduced to the story’s nameless protagonist who is in the midst of making a deal with the Devil. If our dead main character can use the gun he has been provided to bring the lord of the underworld the souls of a thousand evil men, he will be reunited with his separated lover. 

 

We then follow our protagonist as he works his way towards fulfilling his end of the deal, one evil man at a time. But as the journey continues, we begin to notice the flaws in his character. Putting aside his literal deal with the devil, our lead begins to display some less than desirable traits during his warpath. He is entitled, self-obsessed, self-loathing, and even goes as far as to cheat on the women he is fighting for. 

 

The violent journey comes to an appropriately bloody conclusion on the closing track, I Never Told You What I Do For A Living. In the song, our nameless lead kills the last of the evil men in a shootout that leaves him mortally wounded. On Death’s door, he takes solace in the fact that he will finally be reunited with the love that he fought so hard for. But the nameless protagonist has by no means earned such a happy ending. the Devil makes this clear when he appears to the dying man and tells him that he still needs one more evil soul. With all the death and destruction that’s been caused, the Devil finds the last evil soul right in front of him. And so, the love that our main character fought for, will forever remain out of his reach.      

 

Every great story has a message and this one is no different. In the first part of their three-part opus, My Chemical Romance presents a cautionary tale. The nameless main character is made to be intensely unlikable through an entitled attitude and his detestable traits serve to turn the audience against his plight. Most importantly, he is rightfully and thoroughly punished for his actions.  

 

Lyricist Gerard Way was a storyteller first, and a musician second. Understanding these stories is critical to deciphering the messages of My Chemical Romance and only makes how they have been overlooked amidst the band’s newfound popularity all the more disappointing. 

 

However, the next chapter in the band’s story is a staple among fans, be they new or old, and it involves a certain marching band…