Some songs live in your head forever.
During a very specific time in our lives, My Chemical Romance filled the voids left by our friends, families, teachers and anyone else we felt alienated by. They saved our lives. Whether you were a fan, musician or just an observer: MCR became your strength.
It is extremely hard to narrow it down to 10, and I'll probably regret not recognizing a few more songs since their entire catalogue is a testament to greatness...but I tried.
In the dark days of teenage angst, missed love connections and general confusion about life itself My Chemical Romance called us to arms: We are stronger than we think, and we will never let them take us alive.
Here are 10 MCR songs that had a profound impact on me, I'd love to hear yours.
1. Famous Last Words / The Black Parade
This song was the anthem. The song that we could all turn to when everything else was lost in the shadows. Whatever got us down, high school, family, other people or the future: we had Famous Last Words.
The legendary chorus screams, "I am not afraid to keep on living / I am not afraid to walk this world alone."
And those words helped us validate ourselves. Things are not as scary if we can own our independence. Realizing that you're incomplete, or working on something is the first step into the light. These words are our weapons. This song is a powerful message that some of us tattooed on ourselves, wore on shirts, and committed to memory. There is nothing we can't do.
2.Headfirst for Halos
The catchy beat and poppy chorus of this tune gave us an intimate look at the duality of MCR. Most people have two sides to them, the one they show the world, and the one they keep to themselves. Most of us have a little bit more going on inside than we like to admit, and Headfirst For Halos proves we're not alone. Depression, anxiety, and other internal struggles were talked about by this band. They helped us fight.
Whether we were on the brink of a breakdown or just struggling for a moment, we realized that nothing is ever so bad that it can't change.
3. Desert Song / Life On The Murder Scene (Bonus Track)
Arguably the darkest song the band ever released, Desert Song is never far from my memory. It describes something very close to me, the idea of mortality. I fight it every day. Most of my anxiety stems from the feeling of running out time, the feeling of not ever being able to live.
One sequence of lyrics sets itself apart as the though I can never seem to verbalize myself, "From the lights to the pavement / from the van to the floor / from backstage to the doctor / from the earth to the morgue."
It's madly melancholy. It alludes to the idea of performance as an escape, or a way to avoid the inevitable. I know a lot of musicians, actors and entertainers can feel this. It's a musical representation of the hollow feeling you get after you leave the stage, or the place you really belong. It's inhuman. Sad. Longing. Desperate. It's remarkable.
4.Early Sunsets Over Monroeville / I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love
This was actually the first track Frank Iero tracked with the band, and it's truly unique. We get introduced to the macabre, gray world of MCR and we get a sense of the band's identity. Hauntingly beautiful, Monroeville is a stand out track because of its personality.
You can imagine two ghosts dancing to its beat in the moonlight, their steps treading lightly on a concrete floor. The chorus moves them unlike any earthly thing could. That is the essence of MCR.
5.This is How I Disappear / The Black Parade
This song appeals to that carnal side of us that just wants to destroy things. It's angry, brash and more akin to the hardcore side of the band. You can feel the influence of The Misfits and other Jersey bands that ended up shaping the vibe of MCR.
"Away with the boys in the band."
We all wanted to go away with them. There is still that theatricality to the song, which lets us know that we're in the middle of a rock opera, and not just another run-of-the-mill rock record. The Black Parade as a unit could not have worked without this song. It is an essential moving part.
6.Kill All Your Friends / The Black Parade (B Side)
I have a very specific memory associated with this song. You ever remember exactly where you were when you listened to a song?
I remember being on the bus, headed to school in 8th grade. I was fighting with a few of my friends. My world was changing. I was about to enter high school and I had a lot of thinking to do. This song made me feel better about leaving people behind. Although it was blunt, a little brash and altogether emotional, I knew that this time would prepare me for crazier times as an adult.
7. I Never Told You What I Did For A Living / Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
As macabre and theatrical as this song is, it's rooted in reality. I think it takes the idea of who you are when the lights go off and magnifies it. What is our reality? Who are we when nobody is around.
There's a lot of mischief and mayhem that happens when you're figuring out who you are, and this song made us feel more included. Plus, it was incredibly energetic, loud and everything we wanted out of an MCR song.
8.Helena / Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
Yes, this was the single that everyone knew, and yes it was commercial, but it reached millions because it was passionate. An ode to Gerard and Mikey Way's grandmother, this track opened every wound and helped it heal, by exposing real, genuine sorrow. Losing things or people can lead to a lot of heartbreak. It can force you into the dark corners of your mind that you didn't even know existed. MCR made you realize that all of the darkness is okay. Most of us realized when we saw this music video, that MCR was not your typical band. They were on our side.
In order to move forward we must use our issues, our sorrow, our setbacks. We ignite them. We can survive.
9. The Only Hope For Me Is You / Danger Days
This is one of those songs that a lot of people missed. Danger Days was an album that a lot of people missed. I remember listening to this when I felt as if nothing could be done about my life. Darkness comes to mind.
The lyrics describe a desperate call for comradeship in a cold, cruel world. It's a masterfully written rock and roll track with a swelling, emotional chorus. It uses all the elements that make MCR so relatable, and swirls them around in a blender, creating this devastating track. The desperation you feel when you're trying to connect can be felt in each word. It's beautiful.
10. The Kids From Yesterday
Admitting that something is over can be the saddest thing in the world. How we get out of that by having the ability to look back without anger is the real goal.
When the band said their goodbyes, lead singer Gerard Way saith that MCR can live forever, because it is not a band, it's an idea. That idea stays with us to this day.