One fateful evening in 2012, kismet pulled Reina and Gauraa into a porch conversation about Bishop Allen. They realized, despite having grown up 8,657 miles apart, they had listened to the same records, subscribed to the same podcasts and shared the same pretensions. Separated by distance again, the two have decided to pull all the stops necessary to preserve their insular culture of staying in and overanalyzing music. You can read their first dinner discussion here. Tonight, Reina and Gauraa cancel their plans to discuss one of the records that brought them together, My Chemical Romance’s 2006 release, The Black Parade.
Gauraa: Last Friday night, Reina and I fawned over Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience. The two of us then decided we’d follow up with Britney Spears’ My Prerogative, because if there’s anything that makes sense in the world, it’s the Justin/Britney pairing. Then the news jolted us, hitting us hard before we could take the weekend home–it’s been a terrible, terrible, godawful week–and talking slick Swedish production and alluding to sexual themes on a Greatest Hits compilation suddenly felt like a very alien concept in our vocabulary as human beings. My first instinct was to blink hard, hard enough to maybe zap everything into black nothingness. But since I couldn’t nullify human existence with a single blink of the eye, I did the next best thing I could do: I wept into Reina’s Twitter DMs and pitched her a “rock opera concept album” about life and death for our ritualized Friday Night Dinner Discussions. As I find time and time again, when you feel helpless, sometimes the best and only thing we can do is process our grief through music. She accepted gracefully, which is what brings us here.
Reina: The first time I ever heard My Chemical Romance was right before I started 4th grade. I’m not going to get into details, but 3rd grade was not a great time for me. It started out really great and I was loving it, loved my homeroom teacher, but some stuff happened, I got really emotional, and ended up having to see the school counselor once a week for a few months towards the end of the school year. My parents made the terrible decision to let me have a TV with cable in my room and thus began my obsession with MTV Hits, the music video only channel that played a loop of the hottest music videos 24/7. It’s there that I first saw the music video for “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” and realized that there is a whole generation of people like me, refusing to apologize for not being okay. Later, I fell in love with the creepy cool music video for “Helena,” and again with the video for “The Black Parade”. So much so that when I hear the phrase “When I was a young boy,” the only plausible line to follow is “my father took me into the city, to see a marching band.” Obviously.
My Chemical Romance’s songs have often dealt with not being okay and thoughts of death, but it’s strange how these songs bring people together. I thought I outgrew My Chemical Romance for a while, but I found myself revisiting the band and this album in particular when I moved away for college. I worried so much about not being able to make friends in college, but somehow my friends found me, on a floor of a dorm room, all of us drunkenly singing along to My Chemical Romance songs, and not having to explain how sad we’ve been in the past. And what album is more relevant now, in a time of tragedy, when we’re all examining our own mortality and the importance of our lives and the lives of others. I think I love this album because, not only is it a beautiful and tragic examination of life and mortality, it’s an album that’s brought me together with lots of people. And here, tonight, it’s going to bring us together. Why do you love The Black Parade, Gauraa?
Gauraa: I came across this quote, not too long ago, in a book–I can’t, for the life of me, remember which one, and this is particularly frustrating because I usually take note of such things–but to paraphrase, it went something like, “You have completed living your life by the time you turn twenty. Every year that follows is just a reflection of your childhood.” It has stuck with me for a while, and I’ve found that every aspect of life I had casually discarded when I turned fifteen–the journals, the neurotic fixation on death, the posters, the feelings–have all come back to haunt me. When I took down my “My Chemical Romance Save Lives” poster in 2010, I sincerely believed I wasn’t going to revert back to their records as an adult. Yet, here I am, still very much a teenage nihilist at heart, swiftly filing everything I’ve ever written into a neat pile on my desk, complete with a list of publishing instructions, in case I disappear tomorrow. Here I am, feeling even more connected to The Black Parade than I did a decade ago. Sure, it’s easy to pin these sentiments down to paranoia but then you read the news, or you have a knife fall down from an apartment window while you’re walking the dog (true story) and suddenly reality becomes an array of potential Final Destination plot points. I probably sound childishly persecuted, but if so, this album is right there with me–every song on this album bursts into infinite emotion: good, bad, kick me like a stray, tell me I’m an angel, heaven, hell, life, death. It might seem uncanny that this album is largely about looking at Youth as an adult, or, about looking at life from your deathbed. But at the same time, is it? The album, and life itself, is so cyclical in its nature, that it probably saw all of this coming.
On a less morose note, this album found me in 2007, the year that marked my induction into the all-encompassing, obsessive world of music. It was also the year I befriended a girl named Jennifer, and we pooled in our collective obsessions with American bands and basked in their glory in Jakarta, often discussing allegedly “foreign” music and culture to the extent we felt displaced by our immediate surroundings. To date, I have known no time more magical. Jennifer also had better taste in music than me, so while I was floundering around town with my Good Charlotte CDs, she was listening to Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. It wasn’t long after she played me Three Cheers that I hung up that “My Chemical Romance Save Lives” poster in my bedroom. See? Here we are again. We always bounce around until we come right back to the beginning.
Profound Genius annotation: “Piggies” could refer to Piggy in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Piggy is an intelligent but fat boy who often get teased. So asking Piggies to gather around would mean asking the outcasts that people don’t know how to appreciate to unite, and kiss this miserable society goodbye.
Best lyric: “You’ve got front row seats to the penitence ball/ When I grow up I want to be nothing at all!”
Gauraa: Come one, come all to this tragic affair! This was, probably, the first “concept album” I’d ever heard. I’m not sure what I took away from it back then, but I have no recollection of there being a (un)steady protagonist. But here he is, The Patient, dying. “Another contusion, my funeral jag/ Here’s my resignation, I’ll serve it in drag.” This seems like a suicide note, but then there’s this eerie screaming towards the end that dissipates into “Save me/save me.” And then we find ourselves dripping mascara at his imagined funeral: this is the end, but also the beginning.
Reina: It almost sounds like some kind of cult religious society, like Jonestown or something doesn’t it? Well, I mean there’s a cult-ish element to being a My Chemical Romance fan in general, but you know what I mean? “Piggies” a la Lord of the Flies like the “profound Genius annotation” is actually a perfect way to describe the MCR cult. I love how this song fluctuates between major and minor, and though they’re singing about this supposed protagonist’s funeral, it’s more of a spectacle than it is a sacred thing. Like an accident on the road that you can’t help but rubberneck as you drive past.
Gauraa: Piggie was my least favorite character in Lord of The Flies–he was just so acutely aware and nonreactive–but, that said, I resonate with him perfectly. Listening to The Black Parade is almost like buying tickets to a car crash, in that respect.
Profound Genius annotation: The singer switches characters in this song to highlight the insecurities of the album’s protagonist, The Patient. Gerard Way takes on the roles of Mother War, The Patient and the Doctor in this one song, setting up the rest of the album to be a journey through The Patient’s final 2 weeks of suffering from cancer.
Best lyric: “Have you heard the news that you’re dead? / No one ever had much nice to say/ I think they never liked you anyway”
Gauraa: Heaven or hell, who’s to say? Here’s an ecstatic choir that’ll follow you to purgatory! I’m realizing now that it’s impossible to isolate the music–the melody, arrangement, production–from the narrative on this album. Everything kind of melds together in its cohesive delivery, from the foreboding bleep of the heart monitor and the ascending guitars on “The End,” to the flatline and grandiose solos on “Dead!” There are “motifs” here that denote heaven i.e. the horns (very “sounding the seventh trumpet” indeed) and this sort of nasty, cupidian schoolboy choir, along with a snappy uptempo beat, to indicate hell. In this song, we find out that Mother War, The Patient’s mother, is waiting for his last two weeks on Earth to tick on by so she can ensure he “get[s] what [he] deserve[s].” There’s definitely some sort of Freudian connect here, which I think is, um, “elaborated” in “Mama” later.
Reina: I love albums like this, that flow seamlessly into the next song. I definitely hear the heavenly fanfare, and I love how it’s such an upbeat and positive sounding song, despite being about death and dying. It’s almost like our biggest adventure starts after we die, you know? That’s why your funeral is more like a the opening sequence to a carnival show or a musical than a weepy affair.
Gauraa: Absolutely. I think that’s what The Patient starts off thinking, too. Then when he finds out he has two weeks left to live, he imagines that no one turns up at his funeral: “No one ever had much nice to say/I guess they never liked you anyway.” Everything about the paranoia surrounding death and memory is so humane. It’s crazy but I mean, why do we even care if or how we’ll be remembered anyhow? We won’t actually be there to find out or experience any of it. Of course, there’s this hollowed line towards the end, “If life ain’t just a joke/ then why are we laughing?” which is meticulously panned to make you feel as if it’s ringing through the universe. It’s so specific in the way it makes you feel absolutely purposeless.
Reina: God, Gauraa. That’s like my worst nightmare. No one shows up at my funeral and no one really cares that I’ve died. The paranoia is so real for me and I have no idea. It’s like we’re all so conditioned to care so much about what other people think of us in life and in death, that maybe that’s the big joke. It doesn’t matter because we’re all going to die someday anyway and truthfully, maybe our lives really only start once we die, right?
Gauraa: Trust me, I share that nightmare and it’s realized almost every year during a birthday or some big, dumb, ceremonial event for which we’ve been trained to have certain expectations, which, in turn, are never met. I do think that all our paranoia, our worries, our achievements are all as mortal as life itself but if we start living like life doesn’t matter, we might as well lay down and die, right? It’s a heavy concept but I always wonder, if our existence is just this big inside joke. And if it is, whose inside joke is it? The creator’s? God’s? God.
“This Is How I Disappear”
Profound Genius annotation: The Patient reaches out to a former lover, conceding that without her, he is nothing.
Best lyric: “Tell me if it’s so/ That all the good girls go to heaven/ Well, heaven knows”
Gauraa: Fuck. Ok, so you find out you’re dying so you desperately reach out to a former love to forge some kind of meaning, almost as if to tell yourself you have a bigger force holding on to you. As if to ensure that you matter to someone, that someone will cry for you when you’re gone. You ask them to “unexplain the unforgivable” and erase the ugliness of things past. The drums are snared into crisp perfection. The vocals are treated, almost as if to make Gerard sound frantically detached, as if experiencing some sort of outer body experiencing, all the while trying to cling to life. Jesus. Is this what it’s like to wait around for death? This song questions the afterlife and the mortality of human ambition. Take, for example, the phrase, “famous living dead.” What do you do with that? What good’s a famous memory when you’re dead? Do all good girls to heaven? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s the point?
Reina: I feel like this also relates to what they’re saying in the last song about no one coming to your funeral and no one having anything nice to say. As though the only person with anything potentially nice to say, the only person who might show up to your funeral is a former lover, and without them, your memory will truly disappear. This kind of feels to me like the cold feet before a big adventure. Like how I got sentimental and sad about going to college because I was afraid it wouldn’t be the adventure I was hoping it would be. It’s about dreading death because what if it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be and you just disappear completely?
Gauraa: Oh god, I know. I remember hearing this story once about how souls linger on to watch their own funeral after they leave their body–you know, to make sure that everyone’s treating whatever earthly matter that’s left of them well. But that’s one imaginative thought. I mean, no one’s ever been dead and been back to tell, right? And the bridge, that fucking guitar riff, reminds me of Three Cheers, of falling for this band the first time around. They were brilliant, the OG famous living dead. RIP.
Reina: It’s that creepy coolness, that sense of being okay with not being okay, of treating death like some kind of big adventure. My Chemical Romance were a much more prolific band than most people gave them credit for, and they pulled off the morbid macabre as a way to cope with the sadness and chaos of everyday life. Will there ever be another band that can do this like MCR could? It’s so spooky in a brilliant way. Especially that part in the bridge, where he goes “Let me go, fuck” it’s so spooky to listen to.
“The Sharpest Lives”
Profound Genius annotation: The title plays on the similar sound of the words “knives” (which are commonly sharp) and “lives”. A sharp life is an image that describes an extreme life, spent in a wild manner (like drinking all the time and dancing and partying constantly).
Best lyric: “You’re the one that I need, I’m the one that you loathe/ You can watch me corrode like a beast in repose”
Gauraa: A singular note, thumping. Chalky whispers. A guitar whisk. A perfectly phrased, sculpted verse: “Well, it rains and it pours when you’re out on your own/ If I crash on the couch, can I sleep in my clothes? / Cause I’ve spent the night dancing, I’m drunk, I suppose/ If it looks like I’m laughing, I’m really just asking to leave this alone.” Ugh, I forget how articulate My Chem were. This is fine architecture. Every single element is laid carefully in its place. It makes me wish we had more bands like them around today.
Reina: They really managed to capture the turmoil of existing in this album. Of death and life, and everything in between. They even got the back and forth of wanting to be surrounded by people, to wanting to be alone, to desperately seeking human connection, to resigning to being alone forever, if that makes sense.
Gauraa: Oof, that makes no sense but all the sense in the world at the same time.
“Welcome to the Black Parade”
Profound Genius annotation: The idea is that Death comes for you in the form of your fondest memory; in the case of the Patient it is a parade that his father took him to when he was young.
Best lyric: “Because one day I’ll leave you/ A phantom to lead you in the summer / To join the black parade.”
Gauraa: Alas, here we are.
Reina: When I was a young girl, my father took me into the city to buy The Black Parade. And I listened to this song over and over thinking about how maybe death isn’t all that scary. “We’ll carry on.” Whether we live or die, and as cheesy as it sounds,I always thought that is such an important message to send to young people everywhere. I feel like this song brought us all together our freshman year, all of us drunkenly singing along to this song, not needing to explain the loneliness and sadness that lead us to this band and this song, I guess. Because I think MCR is one of those bands that everyone eventually gathers around. They unite us in sadness and in being okay with not being okay.
Gauraa: Definitely. It’s safe to assume, I think, that we all brought our own emotional baggage, as listeners, as teenagers, when we turned to MCR in the first place. I remember having just turned thirteen the first time someone I knew and loved died. In front of me laid a body, relatives dressed in white, wailing. I was surprisingly stoic, I couldn’t find tears. I was overwhelmed and didn’t understand: my grandfather was in his body last night, where had he gone this morning? Where do lives go? This song helped me understand, to whatever little extent, how matter turns into memory, how lives dissolve into memories–yours, mine, ours. The Patient revisits his childhood memory, going to see the parade with his father. What does this mean now, now that you’re dying? Why are we fading into the past? “And though you’re broken and defeated, your weary widow marches on. We’ll carry on.” The world moves on, I guess.
Reina: We all are part of the Black Parade. All of us who have loved and lost and carried on.
“I Don’t Love You”
Profound Genius annotation: This song is The Patient asking the lover mentioned in the previous songs to end their relationship before he passes, to make it easier on them both.
Best lyric: “And after all the blood that you still owe/ Another dollar’s just another blow”
Reina: This song is so gut wrenching. The line “ Would you even have the guts to say, I don’t love you like I loved you yesterday,” kills me every time. It makes me think of all the words I should have said to the people I stayed with even as I left them for a new life or, as Gerard says, “to find another way.”
Gauraa: Gerard never sings a single note without truly meaning every word of what he’s saying. I find it equally admirable and terrifying how he rips and tears and shreds through every line as if that’s the singular emotion left for him to feel. He’s possessed. Wholly. And this song is a plea, a plea to give up on him: “Maybe when they knock you down and out/ Is where you ought to stay.” And then he admits, “Sometimes I cry so hard from pleading/ So sick and tired of all the needless beating” and this notion becomes bigger than a character in a concept album. It’s love. It’s life. And it’s fucking exhausting.
Reina: Maybe sometimes it’s better to say goodbye though, than to let it linger and harbor resentment or guilt or regret. What is it that Hannah says in that episode of Girls where she inadvertently breaks up Charlie and Marnie? “Better to cut off the limb and let the stump heal” or something like that.
“House of Wolves”
Profound Genius annotation: In the song, The Patient is contemplating where he ends up in the afterlife – Heaven or Hell.
Best lyric: “Well, I know a thing about contrition/ Because I got enough to spare/ And I’ll be granting your permission/ ‘Cause you haven’t got a prayer”
Gauraa: Well, I think I’m going to burn in hell, everybody burn the house right down!
Reina: “Ashes to ashes, we all fall down.” For elementary and middle school, I went to a catholic all girls school, so I had a religion class every year until I was 14 years old. Interestingly enough, one of the only things I really remember from those classes, is the day we talked about that line, “ashes to ashes” or “dust to dust”. It tells us we’re all made from dust or ashes and we’ll all eventually turn back into dust or ashes. Our teacher always told us that the phrase is supposed to be a reminder to live our lives to the fullest, but I always felt like it’s kind of a downer. Like it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad, because we all turn into the same dust anyway.
Gauraa: I agree wholeheartedly. And I have enough contrition to spare so I’m going to profess my love for “House of Wolves” and “Mama” and tell you right now they’re two of my favorite tracks on this album. This song’s got this ragged edginess to it–the punchy drums, the hey-hey hallelujah, the hallowed wah wah, it all has a snappy cheerfulness of it. It’s perfect and I want to fucking claw into my flesh and feel everything and I really just want it to last forever.
Reina: This song has a super spooky element to it too though. It’s kind of like a haunting. “You better run like the devil, ‘cause they’re never going to leave you alone.” “And as the blood runs down the walls, you see me creepin’ up the halls.” It’s like you’re never able to shake the nagging paranoia of whether you’re a good person or a bad person. Even scarier yet is that other people are the ones who are judging whether you’re good or bad, isn’t it?
Gauraa: A part of me feels, like, the fact that you’re even experiencing these heaven-or-hell doubts somehow expresses your innocence (see: “We got innocence for days!”). Kind of like the story of Jonah, you know? Jonah knows he’s done some serious damage but the fact that he acknowledges his sins on a getaway ship is repentance in itself. The same holds true for this song: “I’ve been a bad motherfucker, tell your sister I’m another/ Go! Go!Go!” And then you hear it and truly experience it. The spirit comes through you, speaks through you, almost. Maybe contrition is the ultimate possession. It feels bad, but it feels good to be this bad.
Profound Genius annotation: This track reveals the driving force behind the protagonist’s death — cancer. It expresses his agony, just asking to be told the truth.
Best lyric: “And I just hope you know/ That if you say / Goodbye today (goodbye today)/ I’d ask you to be true/ Cause the hardest part of this is leaving you”
Gauraa: This is a downer of a song and really, it’s kind of cruel to place it right after “House of Wolves.” I mean, I understand the importance of it “structurally,” but, well.
Reina: I hate this song. Not because it’s bad or anything, but because it’s so real. All but one of my grandparents passed away from cancer and when I was little, my best friend at the time’s mom also died from cancer and we all saw how weak she was. My mom also had cancer when I was younger. She got better, but when she was going through chemo she couldn’t do anything. She couldn’t be out of bed for too long, because she was too weak. “It just ain’t living” is such an accurate way to put it. It’s really frustrating how this album goes back and forth so often on saying goodbye and needing people and needing people to leave you alone. Two songs ago, they were just singing about how it’s easier to say goodbye, but now they’re saying the hardest part is saying goodbye. It’s toying with my emotions completely.
Gauraa: It doesn’t ever get any realer than cancer. And I think the vacillation between claiming that it’s “easy to say goodbye” and realizing how hard it truly is to let go of our humanity is a recurring theme on this album, as it is in real life. I also think that Death, in itself, is a disease that spreads through all parts of Life, as we age. First, slowly, then all too suddenly. We know it’s coming for us, and we’re all just waiting for it to spread through the rest of our bodies. It’s such a dreary thought, it is. But we’re all The Patient, in that respect, aren’t we? We’re all waiting for death just by staying weak and alive. Ugh. I hate this song.
Profound Genius annotation: He’s being sarcastic, hence the “oh, so,” suggesting that he and the other soldiers can’t see the fame and glory beyond the hell they’re seeing in front of them.
Best lyric: “We’re damned after all/ Through fortune and fame we fall”
Gauraa: Back to Mother War, who, of course, is played by Liza Minnelli. Here, we delve into the relationship between Mother War and The Patient. He’s shown to be at war. But, at war with what? Cancer? Death? We then realize “Mother War” is, in fact, Life itself, vaguely personified. The Patient is at war with life. We’re all at war with life. We’re all full of lies, and sure as hell, we’re meant for the flies.
Reina: Maybe all of our life experiences taint us enough to ensure us a one way ticket to hell, no ifs ands or buts. It’s like living is terrible enough an experience that hell really isn’t all that bad. It’s so interesting to think that we spend all our lives wanting to be remembered and to leave behind a legacy, but that desire for fortune and fame is really what damns us to hell, isn’t it? I love that at the end of this, they go back to that idea of carrying on, even when your brothers in arms are gone.
Gauraa: Reina. God. I hope they play MCR in hell.
Profound Genius annotation: The “gutter institutions” he [accuses] of ‘polluting’ him may, in fact, be the church itself. Many argue that the original meaning of many of the passages of the Bible have been altered by people for varying reasons over the almost 2000 years since its creation.
Best lyric: “Some say, now suffer all the children/ And walk away a savior/ Or a madman and polluted/ From gutter institutions”
Gauraa: I read that this song wasn’t originally intended to end up on The Black Parade but it found its way there after Gerard’s experience with night terrors during his recording residency at The Paramour Mansion in Silverlake, Los Angeles. Said mansion had a history of murders, mysteries, boarding school and nunnery convergences (quick overview here.) Anyway, here’s what Mikey had to say about his experience there: “This house had a huge history of odd and mysterious things occurring inside. Some of us laughed it off; others (cough, cough, me) found this house frightening. As luck would have it, I would wind up in the scariest (and later found from past residents) and most haunted room. To add to it, there was a single blue light bulb hanging from the ceiling that didn’t provide light, but an eerie glow. Dogs barking at thin air, doors slamming in front of people (Frankie and Gerard) and bathtubs filling with water when no one was home (Bob).”
The fact that I was listening to this song/reading about it at night, in the spare room, displaced from my bedroom, probably didn’t alleviate its creepiness. Some context: I live in a sixteenth floor apartment so sometimes the wind filters in through the gaps in the window frames, filtering through the city traffic, making spooky wailing sounds. I also found out this morning that a girl jumped off the balcony of our neighboring building last year, so…
Reina: The intro to this song is spooky beyond belief. I don’t want to believe in paranormal activity, but I’ve heard enough stories and read about enough hauntings to believe it despite how much I don’t want to. Going back to “House of Wolves”, “You better run like hell, ‘cause they’re never going to leave you alone.” The whole intro talking about the night terrors and a force gripping his throat, it’s all freaking me out. But what better than a paranormal experience to make up your mind about your own mortality and immortality at the same time.
Gauraa: I know, and what if night terrors aren’t even night terrors at all? What if they’re all otherworldly, UNDERWORLDLY things, really, gripping us by the throat? I didn’t know even know the backstory re: this song until last night and once I read a couple articles on the mansion, I was too spooked to listen to the song after nighttime. For now, I’ll just leave you with this piece of “fan fiction,”which is actually not that fictional at all, considering the dialogues between Mikey and Gerard are mostly pulled quotes from interviews. The band even stumbled across a beautiful painting of an angel at Paramour, only to move some vases aside to realize a devil was gripping the angel by its feet. I don’t think I even have it in me, emotionally, to process the significance of this.
Reina: I just got so cold. I’m so spooked.
Profound Genius annotation: The song was written by Gerard when he was on a subway and had a panic attack because there were so many teenagers riding on it as well. When guitarist Frank Iero heard the song for the first time, he thought it was a joke. [Way] remembers how when he was a teenager, “grown-ups” would be scared of him for no reason, and the idea for this song was born when he found that he himself was old enough to be nervous around teenagers.
Best lyric: “They’re gonna clean up your looks/ With all the lies in the books/ To make a citizen out of you”; “Teenagers scare the living shit out of me.”
Gauraa: I took this song as a rebellious something until one day I woke up significantly older and felt the same exact way. Is there anything in the world that is scarier than a teenager, so susceptible and impressionable? They can be anything they want to be, which is the scariest part of it all.
Reina: Teenagers scare the living shit out of me. They do now, and that scares the living shit out of me. I see teenagers on the internet who can literally post a photo of a white wall and get 1 million likes. I think the scariest thing about teenagers is that they all seem to understand something that we don’t. You know? When I was a teeneager, I was silly and didn’t know a lot of things. I wasn’t super informed about a lot of things, other than popular culture and technology, and I certainly had no idea who I was. But teenagers today are all like vegan and queer and self-identifying racially, culturally, politically, etc. I don’t know, it’s freaking me out that teenagers today seem so much more grown up than when we were teenagers. Freaks me out to see teenagers on social media debating presidential candidates and government policies, like are you even old enough to vote ? ? ?
Gauraa: All of this makes me feel complexed and a little scared. But, at the same time, though maybe mentally equipped, I wonder if teenagers feel the weight of what they’re fighting for? Do they truly comprehend the heaviness of their actions? I mean, either way, it’s a scary outcome. Youth is a dangerous precipice.
Reina: But also, I love this song. It’s the song of the last year of my teenagedom. We would sing this almost every night our freshman year.
Gauraa: Truly. We sang from the other side of the proverbial jet black hotel mirror.
Profound Genius annotation: “The Patient also finds that within his attempts to make life meaningful, it doesn’t really mean anything at all and this disappoints him.”
Best lyric: “I hate the ending myself/ But it started with an alright scene”
Gauraa: This song, this album, seems to be a reflection of everything that keeps me up at night, or when I’m fading into myself, looking at the sky below me from a plane window. “I was there on the day they sold the cause for the queen.” We dwell on “authenticity” so much but, what’s the point? Once we filter through our daily rituals, the jobs, the ambitions, the sheer cupidity of our possessions, what’s left of us? What’s the purpose of purpose? This album is a sad song with nothing to say about a life long wait for a hospital stay. Life is just a sad song with nothing to say about a life long wait for a hospital stay. We justify our actions to ourselves based on a preconceived morale inculcated in us by second hand religious notions we can’t remove ourselves from, for what? If we do enough good things, we go to heaven? Is the point of life to gear us for the afterlife? Is there a point, at all? I don’t know what to do with myself. Um, here’s a fun fact, even though heaven knows we’re beyond “fun facts” at this point, but, as Jennifer pointed out many years ago to me, you can hear a chair squeaking on this track in the very beginning.
Reina: This song makes me sad. I never want to watch my life on the screen. Do our lives even mean anything, really? We’re made from dust and we’ll all eventually turn back into dust. What happens in between is just a story to be told, or a story to be forgotten when we’re gone. I love that this song is so depressing, but has such a sweet guitar pattern and mostly dwells in a major key. It’s almost like once you resign to the fact that life has no meaning, maybe you feel a little more peaceful, or something?
Gauraa: It’s a cheap trick, if anything. It’s a distressing song wrapped in serene melody.
Reina: Maybe it’s better that way. It’s like our lives, meaningless stretches of time wrapped in a strong desire to be important.
“Famous Last Words”
Profound Genius annotation: The final “proper” track on the album lets the listener decide whether or not The Patient does die.
Best lyric: “Because I’m out here/ On the other side/ Of a jet black hotel mirror/ And I’m so weak”
Gauraa: Hah! This title!
Reina: “I am not afraid to keep on living. I am not afraid to walk this world alone.” It’s good knowing this song ends on a, well kind of?, positive note. After all of that back and forth on dreading death, being excited about it, ready to leave, unwilling to let go, this album concludes on a note about no longer being afraid. The Patient, for the first time, is awake and unafraid, ready to face his fate. That’s where I want to be. Unafraid to keep on living and unafraid to die. Maybe that’s the secret to a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Gauraa: And we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Reina: Love you for quoting Great Gatsby. Funny to think that my worst nightmare came true for Gatsby. No one really had anything nice to say, and no one showed up to his funeral. Maybe they never really liked him anyway.
Gauraa: I don’t…even…I can’t. Too sad, beautiful, tragic.
Reina: Just like this album. I miss MCR.
Gauraa: Me, too.
Reina and Gauraa did not expect for it to be such an emotional Friday night. They insist they need to be alone now. You can find them here next Friday dissecting Max Martin demos and lyrical allusions to #sexytimes–this time for real.