Back in 2008, when Bob and I came up with this crazy idea to write a (mostly) music blog we’d call Bottom of the Glass, we were telling our friends as well as those we knew with a particular inclination towards creative writing and contemporary music.
That quip about MCR was the response I got from Nick, a bigtime music lover with a penchant for Americana rock and folk. And I understood exactly what he meant, because MCR stands for almost everything a lover of Americana rock and folk despises.
The big label. The seemingly-bottled cynicism. The saccharine fight to remain an outcast. To someone like this teacher, My Chemical Romance was like J.D. Dean from “Heathers” except without the conviction to do anything truly crazy. They were posers without balls.
I laughed and nodded and agreed not to write anything about My Chemical Romance. But now they’re dead.
In March*, MCR announced they were no more.
So I’m hoping my former colleague will forgive me if I feel the need to eulogize them. I mean, hell, even Nikki and Paulo on LOST got a brief eulogy and their own Very Special Death Episode, so don’t MCR deserve at least that? Besides, Nick hardly reads anymore anyway, so screw him, right?!
Simply put, there aren’t three hard rock/punk/emo bands who have earned more time burning up my speakers than MCR in the past half-decade. When I need an injection of venomously raucous punkish rock -- and I admit it doesn’t happen as often as it once did -- these dudes deliver the medicine I need.
Welcome to the Black Parade is unquestionably the career pinnacle of their 4.5-album career, but their musical story arc has a certain to about it. They earned attention for “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” as dead-on a look into the teenaged emotional rollercoaster as has been put to music in the 21st Century. The video is also a clever trailer homage to teen flicks good and bad.
It’s easy to see in hindsight that Danger Days was their death knell, but when you hear the 10-song collection that made up the shelved Conventional Weapons, you know their band was dealing with an incurable malignancy.
I imagine Gerard, ever the artist and comic book lover, wanted to get less dark, more optimistic, “poppier.” He’d done the death and black clothes thing long enough and was looking for a way move beyond it. While Danger Days is synthy and yearns to grow the MCR fanbase, Conventional Weapons songs sound like a sequel to ...Black Parade, which isn't a bad thing, but it is a band that's not interested in growing much. So it makes sense that the chose to try and grow, but it also makes sense that maybe the band as a whole didn't really enjoy the experience of the band in its pubescent stage.
Their last two albums are supposedly “concept albums,” which are only “concept albums” if you’ve never heard a decent f*#king concept album in your entire life. Which is to say, anyone under the age of 20 might have thought Black Parade and Danger Days were concept albums, but the rest of us knew better.
In honor of Nick, I’ll keep being mean to MCR another minute. More often than not, their lyrics lacked, but they occasionally landed an uppercut. There. Happy, Nick?
“Disenchanted” has one of the very favorite verses of teen outsider disillusionment:
I spent my high school career“Gun” off the not-released Chemical Weapons piles on some great lines, knocking our fetishistic love of firearms but especially hitting on our decade of desert warfare:
spit on and shoved to agree
so I could watch all my heroes
sell a car on TV
And if I’m old enough to die for your mistakes,
Can we bleed enough to fill up what the engine takes?
But what MCR did and did incredibly well, was blow out speakers with a healthy splash of melody and hook. Not many bands outside of freakish death-metal circles do that kind of thing anymore.
Foo is AWOL, and MCR is DOA. I miss them and the windows they can shake. May they rest in peace. And fret not from your temporary grave, Gerard Way. I hope your ghost finds a way to haunt my friend Nick, but I'll seance your soul on my iPod for many years to come.
* -- I just found out on June 20, because I’m not that rabid an MCR fan as to follow them on Twitter or anything (they didn’t even announce it on Twitter, those neanderthals!).