Classic & Current Contemporary Non-Schlock-Rock Metropolitan Music
The Black Parade (2006) - My Chemical Romance
It was in the middle of the summer of 2006 when I got on the trail to The Black Parade. It was filled with breadcrumbs surrounded in secrecy, rumour, and smartly planted hints. What exactly was "The Black Parade" supposed to be? A new album by My Chemical Romance? Or were MCR breaking up and forming a new band called The Black Parade?
Following the trail became a fun game. I found a teaser video clip with a beeping heart monitor. Before long I had a release date - October 24 (in the USA). That meant I had weeks to stay on the trail and share what I found here on Deaconlight.com. But something happened along the way that sidelined my plan and turned this record into something completely different for me personally.
The "official" word was announced at the end of August when My Chemical Romance released a 26-minute press conference video. The video opens in a darkened concert hall where an announcement is made that MCR couldn't be there and in their place would be some "friends." We see these guys in black and silver suits with a blonde singer come out and play the first part of "The End." The song fades out and we hear the beat of the heart monitor as the band fades back in and the blonde singer yells "We are The Black Parade."
A question appeared..
After which we saw Bob Bryar, Mikey Way, Gerard Way, Frank Iero, and Ray Toro sitting together at a table facing the camera. Gerard had white/blonde hair and everyone else's hair was black. They had black suits will silver stripy decorations on them.
"The Black Parade is the name of our new album coming out in October," Gerard said. "The Black Parade is also the name of our alter ego on this record."
The rest of the video was MCR answering questions submitted by fans. I received the e-mail on 15 August:
If you could ask MCR one question in the world, what would it be? Email it ... before this Friday at 6:00pm California time. Make sure to include your name and where you're from.
My question, which did not appear in the video, was something to the effect of do MCR plan to actively control their destiny or take a more lassez faire approach. After watching the press conference I concluded the answer was the first.
So began a massive media blitz. There was so much hype I could tell it was starting to turn me off. I decided to stick with it and keep an open mind, reminding myself how I missed out on U2 during the early 90s because they were just too popular for me. I wish now I hadn't been such a music snob at the time.
The next big event was that MCR were slated to make an appearance during the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards pre-show. I was pretty pumped to see what they would do. I already knew about the new look and some of the songs from following the trail. Plus I had seen that little clip at the start of the press conference video. After sitting through an hour or so of the usual pre-show banter, it was finally announced that MCR were about to perform.
My Chemical Romance's performance of "Welcome to the Black Parade" on the roof of Rockefeller Center was brilliant. I was so blown away it almost made my hair stand up. Surely you saw this, too. This performance put the fire in me again and I was ready for October 24 to hurry up and get here.
Right after that it was announced that MCR would have to cancel their weekend performances because drummer Bob Bryar was sick. He had been burned during a video shoot in August. I did not know when I was watching the live performance that Thursday at the VMA pre-show how sick Bob was. He was admitted to the hospital afterwards and a couple of days later the band announced Bob had a staph infection.
I knew that Bob must have been in pretty bad shape to force the MCR to cancel those weekend shows. It must have been so stressful for him to have to play that high-profile gig at the VMAs while he was so sick. If you watch that video from the VMAs, you can see Gerard look back towards Bob at the end of the song. I wonder if he was checking to see if Bob was ok?
All this gave me a really creepy feeling. One of my best girl friends growing up died in 2000 of a staph infection. Linda was in the hospital at the time being treated for burns she had received in a cooking accident. I spoke to her on the phone while she was in the hospital (in Nevada, far away from me). She seemed fine. Two days later she was gone.
Maybe I do worry too much but it did cross my mind how sad it would be if something happened to Bob right as MCR were about to release this record centered around dying and death.
My next step in The Black Parade hype machine was to get "Welcome to the Black Parade" played on Jason Jefferies and Friends at the online radio station ErrorFM.com. Sometimes I "drop in" on the show with a couple of songs I pair up that I feel go together well. I immediately knew I wanted to pair MCR's song with a Queen song. Even though Gerard has said that Queen's A Night at the Opera was a big influence on The Black Parade, I thought "Procession/Father to Son" from Queen II would be a better fit for "Welcome to the Black Parade." At first I paired them because of the sonic qualities - even to the point of the segue being in the same key. Then as I listened to the words I realized they fit together lyrically as well. I mean, a Procession is sorta like a parade. And the Queen song revolves around a father passing down wisdom to his son.
It was around this time I started trying to get my MCR area of Deaconlight.com cleaned up. This site is always a work in progress and because it is so big, lots of artist areas get neglected. But nothing was going to stop me from trying to pull together a bunch of My Chemical Romance stuff together in a little place here to share with Deaconlight's visitors. We get a lot of MCR fans dropping by because of the pictures I have from the time I saw them open for Green Day in Norfolk. These live shots of My Chemical Romance in 2005 show up a lot in the search engines when people are looking for MCR pictures.
Also in September was My Chemical Romance's appearance on the MTV2 $2 Bill Concert Series program. The day before the show I got a mysterious e-mail with promo banners and still photos from the show, which had been pre-recorded. I posted all this stuff up on Deaconlight and continued to clean up my MCR online mess.
The show was short with only a few songs. The one that really caught me, of course, was the sadly beautiful "Cancer." Although I had heard the band talk about this whole concept of the record being centered around a character they called "The Patient," I had not really stopped to absorb it all until I heard that song.
The Black Parade Tracks
Additional Tracks on the Deluxe Edition of The Black Parade (iTunes)
Artwork from The Black Parade Limited Edition
I have both the limited edition CD and deluxe vinyl versions of The Black Parade. The vinyl version is in a box slipcase with two gatefold covers. The CD is in a rectangular black case. Coffin-esque?
Here are some scans from the CD limiited edition I bought when the record was first released:
More My Chemical Romance at Deaconlight.com