10 references you might have missed in My Chemical Romance’s lyrics
How many of these did you catch?January 7, 2021
My Chemical Romance always insert references in lyrics, videos, performances and wherever else they can fit them. In fact, they’re so abundant and often well hidden that the more subtle ones may be overlooked for years.
While we love pulling out trivia regarding the real “Helena” and Blade Runner, the best nods are lesser-known. Better yet, they’re the ones that make you stop and think before you realize just how perfect they are. Read on for 10 My Chemical Romance lyrical references that you might have missed.
“It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish” – Neil Gaiman quote
Lyric: “You get what everyone else gets, you get a lifetime, go!”
Even die-hard My Chemical Romance fans may have missed this not-so-subtle nod. That is unless they’re also dedicated fans of Neil Gaiman. During the scream-spoken introduction to the song, Gerard Way snuck in a direct quote from the author’s The Sandman: Brief Lives. Just leave it to the creator of The Umbrella Academy to flawlessly incorporate a comic book line.
“To The End” – “A Rose For Emily” narrative
Lyric: “If you marry me, would you bury me?/Would you carry me to the end?”
The most obvious reference included in “To The End” is a nod to the Blur song of the same name. However, that’s hardly the most interesting aspect. Did you know that the song’s narrative was inspired by a 1930 short story? The work in question is “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner. Thankfully, MCR’s take on the tale is far less problematic on a variety of fronts.
“I Never Told You What I Do For A Living” – Macbeth reference
Lyric: “Another knife in my hands, a stain that never comes off the sheets/Clean me off, I’m so dirty, babe/The kind of dirty where the water never cleans off the clothes”
No one can ever argue that MCR aren’t on top of their literary game. Case in point: “I Never Told You What I Do For A Living” features a notable reference to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The line listed above poses a parallel to the guilt-symbolizing bloody hands of Lady Macbeth. We can’t say we’re surprised, seeing as “The Sharpest Lives” also mentions the title characters of Romeo And Juliet.
“Vampire Money” – Misfits reference
Lyric: “Hair back, collar up, jet black, so cool!/Sing it like the kids that are mean to you!”
It’s hardly a secret that MCR are Misfits fans. The band even did a cover of their track “Astro Zombies” for Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland in 2005. Unless you’re intimately familiar with both discographies, though, you probably missed this nod. The line above very nearly echoes one in “Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?” Though not exact, the Misfits line in question is: “Singled out the kids who are mean to me.” Too close for coincidence, right?
“This Is How I Disappear” – Bess Houdini nod
Lyric: “To unexplain the unforgivable/Drain all the blood and give the kids a show/By streetlight this dark night, a séance down below”
In addition to Misfits, MCR are also notably into Harry Houdini. The magician even appears as the silhouette on the I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love cover. But did you catch the nod to his wife, Bess Houdini, in the lyrics of “This Is How I Disappear”? Probably not. It’s a subtle one. The mention of a séance is reportedly a reference to Bess, who repeatedly tried to contact her husband after death.
“Bulletproof Heart” – The Killers’ murder trilogy reference
Lyric: “How can they say/’Jenny, could you come back home?’”
Leave it to MCR to pull inspiration from dark places. Did you know that the offhanded mention of “Jenny” in “Bulletproof Heart” is a call to the Killers’ murder trilogy? The initial narrative was inspired by the murder of Jennifer Levin in 1986 and is laced throughout with her name. If you’re interested in checking out the trilogy, listen in the following order: “Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf,” “Midnight Show” and “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine.”
“Dead!” – “Cemetery Drive” callback
Lyric: “Did you get what you deserve?/The ending of your life”
Don’t you just love when bands get meta? In this instance, MCR called back to “Cemetery Drive” in “Dead!” If you’re familiar enough with their catalog, you may have already caught it. If not, listen for the line that both songs have in common. It shouldn’t be hard to nab it in “Dead!” seeing as it’s at the very top of the track.
“Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” – The Who nod
Lyric: “‘Oh let me tell you ’bout the sad man’/Shut up and let me see your jazz hands”
There is no shortage of references in “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na).” Give it a listen and see if you can pick them all out. As it stands, our favorite is the lyrical parallel to the Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes.” The sad man mentioned by MCR comes from the line “No one knows what it’s like/To be the bad man, to be the sad man.”
“Famous Last Words” – Mikey Way departure response
Lyric: “Now, I know that I can’t make you stay, but where’s your heart?”
Did you know that “Famous Last Words” serves a double purpose? Not only does it contribute to The Black Parade’s narrative, but it also chronicles the temporary departure of Mikey Way. The bassist left the band for a time during the album’s production, citing mental health concerns. “Famous Last Words” was being written at the time, so Gerard paid tribute to the event through the lyrics.
“Party Poison” – The Stooges reference
Lyric: “I got the answer, I got the answer, yeah/Street-walking cheetah with a capital ‘G’”
If you ever wondered what “Street-walking cheetah with a capital ‘G’” is supposed to mean, look no further. The line actually comes by way of the Stooges in their song “Search And Destroy.” While the original phrasing was “I’m a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm,” Gerard clearly made it his own.
What are your favorite lyrical references within My Chemical Romance’s discography? Let us know in the comments!