The Black Parade, Track-by-Track

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The Black Parade, Track-by-Track

Sean Carolan

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Courtesy of fanart.tv

My Chemical Romance‰’s 2006 album,  The Black Parade, is one of my favorites of all time. And, while I haven‰’t listened to it in its entirety in a couple years, I‰’m still just as familiar with the songs as I was in 2007. And so this is me, as a 21-year-old, revisiting the album and reacting through the lens of an early-teenage-years emo kid who just got it (henceforth referred to as “you‰Û).

This is your first time listening to The Black Parade. Track-by-track. Theme by theme. Moment by moment. You get home from the mall. You put the CD in your player. Put your uncomfortable and kinda crappy headphones on. You press play. You hear the beeps, the guitar strumming, and the voice of your new prophet, Gerard Way. You‰’re in for the best and worst (because of emotions) 51 minutes and 53 seconds of your life to date. This is The Black Parade.

*PLEASE LISTEN TO THE BLACK PARADE AS YOU READ THIS ARTICLE FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT*

1) The end

“If you look in the mirror and don‰’t like what you see/you can find out first-hand what it‰’s like to be me‰Û. This is the first hook, the true beginning of the album. This is where you first delved deeper into the world that is My Chemical Romance. You already know “Welcome to the Black Parade,” the mid-album title track that topped the charts as a single, and decided to buy the CD. This is the first song you hear, and it drags you in and hooks you up. MCR just GETS you. This is only the first 30 seconds of the album, and you already opened up your heart to them. There‰’s just enough classic rock, a queen-esque grandiosity to it. It‰’s familiar but new to you. Just enough rebellion, just enough angst. Just enough you. You‰’re elated, they get you. The song builds up to the yells of “Save me!‰” and your heart skips a beat.

2) Dead!

And you‰’ve flatlined

A scream

Fucking awesome guitar solo

“AND IF YOUR HEART STOPS BEATING”

Catchy riff

“THE ENDING OF YOUR LIFE

AND IF YOU GET TO HEAVEN”

HOLY SHIT THAT CHORUS

YOU CAN SING ALONG RIGHT AWAY

This is your favorite song ever

RIDE CYMBAL

Another verse

BACK TO THE CHORUS YOU KNOW IT BY HEART ALREADY

Ooooooo that horn section

ANOTHER GUITAR SOLO ARE YOU KIDDING ME

DUAL STEREO DYNAMIC

ONE

TWO

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

LALALALALA

LALALALALAAALA

LALALALALAAALAAALAAAAA

“IF LIFE AIN‰’T JUST A JOKE

THEN WHY ARE WE LAUGHING

THEN WHY AM I DEAD

DEAD”

You leave the song feeling reborn, in a way. You‰’ve accepted that the subject of the album has passed on, and you feel like you‰’re on this journey with him.

3) This is How I Disappear

Ohhhhhhh shiiiiit this gets heavier/creepier/minor key riffs

This song is pretty tight

This is where you start to get a bit more of the MCR-vibe on the album, it‰’s the logical progression from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge

But, since this is your first time listening to it, as told by me, you don‰’t really know it right now

But you‰’ll notice it like 10 years later

This is where you start getting lost in the album. It helps set the mood for the songs to come. You get pumped up, yet introspective crazy breakdown riffs, gallop picking, and an idea of what this band really is at the core. This is where you get exposed to who MCR has been for years, and what they‰’ve become. For longer fans, this is where they’re sold on the album.

4) The Sharpest Lives

OH SHIT THAT KEYBOARD

AND THE WHISPERS PHASING ACROSS

Here they’re really messing with people‰’s brains in the beginning

Ohhhhh shit then it gets into the chorus and guitar-driven part

And going back and forth between the two doesn‰’t really split the song or seem tacky or anything, it‰’s actually pretty cool and helps build tension for both sides

But then it mixes it up and gives you something like weird minor key Spanish-Bowie lead in

And then right back into the chorus

Not the strongest track on the album, but it‰’s still a pretty solid track that is probably a couple people‰’s favorite. Composition-wise it‰’s pretty dope. It‰’s got this arena-rock feeling to it, and you leave feeling pumped up and completely sold on MCR.

You‰’ve gotten past the first four songs of the album, and now you‰’re ready for the main event. The stage is all set. The streets are cleared. It‰’s here.

5) Welcome to the Black Parade

And here it is.

The piano.

The one song you know

But now you know where it fits

You‰’ve arrived emotionally at where you truly need to be to listen to those words “Because one day/i‰’ll leave you/a phantom to lead you in the summer/To join the Black Parade‰Û

“WHEN I WAS

A YOUNG BOY

MY FATHER

TOOK ME INTO THE CITY

TO SEE A MARCHING BAND

HE SAID SON WHEN

YOU GROW UP

WILL YOU BE

THE SAVIOR OF THE BROKEN

THE BEATEN AND THE DAMNED”

And then the breakdown

And you‰’re here

You‰’re in the parade

You‰’ve truly joined The Black Parade.

You‰’ve been welcomed, you‰’ve heard the music, and you‰’ve joined. You‰’re in the crowd behind the float. You‰’re on the float. You‰’re in the band uniforms. You‰’re singing this song with them. You know the words. You know them better than anything. You‰’re marching beside them. You‰’re just a man.

You‰’re not a hero

But you‰’ll carry on

Your memory will carry on

Your memory of this song will carry on forever.

This moment will carry on forever.

You can‰’t stop listening.

6) I Don‰’t Love You

Someday I‰’ll find a way to accurately describe this song. In the meantime, just listen and cry. Just like you did the first, second, third, and every listen.

7) House of Wolves

You need a pick-me-up. This is the song to do the trick. You just wanna dance and break shit. From the second the drums start playing, to when the guitar kicks in, you‰’re filled with pure adolescent rage and just want to throw shit around and unplug your older cousin‰’s PS2 just to spite him. The words unlock your teenage angst and encapsulate all of the anger you‰’ve repressed with dread because if you cry or show any sort of emotion at school everyone makes fun of you. This is a huge middle finger to everyone who thinks you‰’re just a little emo kid who hides behind their hair and refuses to waste time with them “outside‰” when you‰’d much rather be watching Naruto and checking for emails from that cutie from art class.

“WELL I THINK I‰’M GONNA BURN IN HELL

EVERYBODY BURN THE HOUSE RIGHT DOWN

AND SAY NOW WHAT I WANNA SAY

TELL ME I‰’M AN ANGEL

TAKE THIS TO MY GRAVE

ASHES TO ASHES WE ALL FALL DOWN”

Also, holy shit, just listen to that bassline. That‰’s why this song is so funky. It‰’s just another thing that you pick up on in like 10 years.

OHHHHH DAMN THAT CRUNCHY RIFF

And the Jack White vocal distortion

This song makes you wanna punch shit

AND THAT GUITAR SOLO

SLASH-LEVEL (dat wah pedal)

8) Cancer

Thought this album was fun, didn‰’t you kid? WELL GUESS WHAT HERE‰’S A SONG ABOUT DYING FROM CANCER.

You‰’ve started crying. You can‰’t control your emotions. That piano. Those vocals.

“CUZ THE HARDEST PART OF THIS

IS LEAVING YOU”

And you‰’ve lost it by the time the drums kick in. Your tissue box is empty. You grab the sheets of your bed to stem the tide of tears. You get somewhere. Then all of a sudden:

“THAT IF YOU SAY

GOODBYE TODAY

I‰’D ASK YOU TO BE TRUE

CUZ THE HARDEST PART OF THIS

IS LEAVING YOU

OOOOOOOOO

OOOOOOO

OOOO

CUZ THE HARDEST PART OF THIS

IS LEAVING YOU”

You can‰’t contain your tears. They‰’ve broken you. MCR has broken down all of your emotional barriers, all of the walls you‰’ve put up to look tough to the world. Nobody sees you though, and you‰’re happy about that because you‰’re still just chillin’ in bed listening to this and crying before dinner. And then you get to the next track, “Mama‰Û

9) Mama

The buzzing and guitar start.

Oooooooo this song sounds creepy

“Mama, we all go to hell‰Û

Ahhhh yes this is what I want

“Mama, we all go to hell‰Û

This song just sounds so mischievous, like it‰’s keeping a secret and holding a knife behind its back.

And then you get to the chorus, standard MCR fare so they can keep song structure but progressively make it weirder.

Now come the creepy voices, making it sound like it‰’s out a kooky horror movie.

They go back into the chorus, and then make it sound like a crazy circus from hell

And then the breakdown

MCR are the masters of taking basic song structures and hooks, building them up, and then breaking them down.

“And if you would call me your sweetheart, I‰’d maybe then sing you a song‰” breaks storm, then throws you right back on the ship for the waltz to hell, gang vocals, and Liza MInelli‰’s soaring voice leading the ships down the river Styx, through Hades‰’ gates, and into the pits of eternal fire and damnation.

10) Sleep

Okay so there‰’s a weird recording, you go through it

THEN THEY BLAST IN

Ah another ballad. Cool, MCR does them pretty well

It‰’s got a cool guitar lead over the bridge

And then a chorus you can easily sing along with (because it‰’s only like 2 words).

And then the line, “Three Cheers for Tyranny‰Û.

You realize the significance of the line and it‰’s tie-ins later, but it sticks out to you.

This song is mostly a soundscape to just draw you more into the album, letting it take over your brain. Just sleep. Let the music guide your dreams.

11) Teenagers

This song is catchy. It‰’s about teenagers. You‰’re a teenager. This song is about you. This song is about what society wants to do to you, as seen by a dude in his late 20‰’s who gets his audience and has to put up with people who don‰’t. MCR is kinda sick of people saying inaccurate things about how teenagers think or feel or operate or what they want or how they behave, and this song is a love letter to their fans. They know that teenagers scare the living shit out of people, but teenagers don‰’t scare them.

MCR gets you. And they don‰’t like dealing with people who don‰’t get you but claim to do so. They‰’re on your side.

12) Disenchanted

The song starts out acoustic, gets in a heartful verse, and then pulls you into a nostalgia-fest for things you‰’ve never really experienced, just seen on TV in stories of people leaving high school and all of their best friends behind. Friends they made when they were your age. Friends that you may have right now, but friends you know may leave.

It sounds like a bittersweet love letter to friends you have but know you‰’ll lose in one way or another. You‰’ve just met some of these people, and you haven‰’t met others yet. You‰’re just waiting for them to come into your life and then waiting for them to leave. You know this. You‰’re powerless to stop it. You don‰’t really want to stop it from happening, though, because then at least you get to know them and have those years with them. It‰’s all just fuzzy concepts of nostalgia in your teenage brain right now, but it still stings. The sting might feel like a friend who moved away in the third grade. It might be friends or family who are no longer with you. You‰’ll figure it out in the future, but knowing that things aren‰’t permanent hurts. Knowing that people aren‰’t here forever hurts. “Disenchanted‰” makes you understand, even if you haven‰’t experienced it yet. It‰’s just one of those songs.

13) Famous Last Words

Now MCR knows that they can‰’t make you stay past this song

“But where‰’s your heart

But where‰’s your heart

But where‰’s your heart”

This is the end

This is the last official track

The Black Parade‰’s famous last words

It builds up

There‰’s the riff

There‰’s the verse

And then the chorus:

“I am not afraid to keep on living

I am not afraid to walk this world alone

Honey if you stay you‰’ll be forgiven

Nothing you can say can stop me going home‰Û

These are the last words of this album. You‰’ve heard a bit of this song, and saw some of the music video on MTV. In the music video, they‰’re still wearing their costumes from Welcome to the Black Parade, and they‰’re burning the set from the last music video in the background. This is The Black Parade, going out in a flame.

And then the words:

“I see you lying next to me

With words I thought I‰’d never speak

Awake and unafraid

Asleep or dead‰Û

You feel pure. This album has laid waste to your emotions, your emotional barriers, and anything stopping you from bawling your eyes out. This is the greatest album you‰’ve ever heard, or, at least, the album you‰’ve loved the most so far. This is The Black Parade. You joined. You marched. You cried. And you‰’ll carry on.

14) Blood

Hmmmmm that‰’s funny, my CD player says there‰’s a 14th track? It hasn‰’t stopped? Did they mess up?

And then it hits you:

IS THIS A SECRET TRACK?!?!?!?!?!??

You keep listening for any indication

And then

The piano

Heeeeyyyyyy this is a silly song

“Blood, blood

Gallons of the stuff

Give them all that they can drink

And it will never be enough‰Û

This song will fuel your emo, vampire-obsessed Twilight phase in the later 2000s and early 2010s.

And the album is truly over.

The Black Parade is an album very close and near to my heart. I don‰’t really remember the first time I listened to it, but that‰’s only because I‰’ve listened to it more times than I can ever hope to count. I know every note, every cue, every lyric, and every change in every song on this album.

The album is about a young person dying of cancer, death coming to them, and them reflecting on their life. Gerard Way thinks that when death comes, it comes in the form of your happiest childhood memory. So for the patient, it comes in the form of the Black Parade. It‰’s a meditation on mortality, it‰’s a meditation on life and death and what may or may not come after. And for many people, it‰’s a new beginning. An introduction to a band, a phase in a person‰’s life (but it‰’s definitely not a phase, mom), a beginning of a love for music. It means something different for every fan, but it means something similar, too. It‰’s The Black Parade.