“When the Funeral Ends”: The Black Parade/Living with Ghosts by My Chemical Romance


It’s hard to imagine my teenage years or even my life existing without My Chemical Romance. And I don’t mean that in the I would’ve killed myself without their music way (though there are many who would be gone), I mean that their music and especially The Black Parade shaped so much of my teenage identity that I would not be the same person I am today. The second that first G-note rang through to my ears from “Welcome to the Black Parade” I was done for.

Before that, I existed in some vague music desert where I listened to whatever was on the radio, played the same CDs over and over again, but didn’t actively search out new bands, new sounds, new genres. That all changed with My Chemical Romance. I remember that I used to do a lot of my chores around four o’clock, when the radio played their top countdown, and one day this rock song appeared at number five and started climbing. I tuned in to the countdown at night, hoping that it would still be there for me to listen to. (This is all pre-iTunes for me. You kids have no idea how hard it was to find a random song back in the day).

I went to YouTube and found all of these music videos and songs from this band, songs that were dark and angsty. I wasn’t yet a true teenager, but my thirteenth birthday was just a few weeks away and I’d already found my anthem. I embraced the music and the culture with my entire heart, and I became obsessed. I read My Chemical Romance fan fiction, I day dreamed about Gerard Way more than any other real world crush, I wrote stories around the lyrics in their music. The Black Parade changed my life as much, if not more than, Harry Potter.

So when I heard that they’d dropped a tenth anniversary edition that included unreleased songs and demos I immediately drove to Best Buy to pick up my copy. If a CD or a band means enough to me I will shell out cash for a hard disc like no other. Plus, my first copy is a wee bit scratched from being played so many times. With this piece of nostalgia and informative creation in my hands, I was only a little bit worried. Would it live up?

The white package is thin and contains two discs. The first is a copy of The Black Parade with the songs in the same order and in the same quality. It’s a pure hit of nostalgia to go from “The End” to “Famous Last Words” and remember what this music meant, and means, to me. It’s still one of my favorite albums for the quality of the music, the potent lyrics, and the fact that I can listen to the whole thing without skipping a track. My personal favorites, other than the obvious title track, are “Dead!”, “I Don’t Love You”, “Mama”, and “Teenagers.” I feel like I relate to the last track more now than I did then.

The second disc, Living with Ghosts, contains the live demos and rough mixes of eleven tracks. While none of the tracks are radio-ready, they aren’t intended to be. This is an album made for the fans, not for the casual listener. It’s an odd experience to listen to the rough mix of “The Five of Us are Dying” and hear several lyrics from another song. “Kill All Your Friends” feels like the kind of late night anthem a group of people would sing after too many drinks, but that gives it a frantic energy all its own. “Not That Kind of Girl”, which I would call the weakest track, borrows from Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking.” The rough tracks and live demos recreate that early My Chemical Romance sound from their first two albums, but reveal the already-changing sound that would later lead to their last album.

If you are or were a My Chemical Romance fan, emo kid, alternative lifestyle person, or rock music lover then I recommend the anniversary edition of The Black Parade/Living with Ghosts for your collection. It’s a piece of nostalgia that will take your ears and mind back to different days when checked pants, jelly bracelets, and long bangs that covered one eye were all the rage. It will make you pull that old t-shirt out of a bottom drawer to remember when rock music was about more than just sex, drugs, and the upcoming apocalypse. It reminds me of when I really discovered music, when I began to find my voice in my writing, when I went into the darkest parts of my soul and psyche and came out alive. I will always appreciate this album for what it gave me rather than what it possibly took away.

The Black Parade is dead, long live The Black Parade.