Why "Welcome to the Black Parade" Continues to be an Anthem for "the Broken, the Beaten, and the Damned"

            “Welcome to the Black Parade” is a nostalgic song among adults who were teenagers or children during the early 2000s because of its status as an anthem for the weary and otherwise damaged. While the music is catchy and memorable, the true merits of the My Chemical Romance classic rest in its lyrics, even when discounting the context of the music video and the statements of the band about its meaning. Intersecting narrative poetry with elegy, “Welcome to the Black Parade” utilizes rhetorical techniques such as alliteration and repetition to convey a simultaneously melancholy and uplifting narrative of a son honoring his father’s memory.

            Taking a close read of the song, without listening to it, enables the reader to take a more academic approach to a pop culture phenomenon. The first two verses, or stanzas, relay the story of the speaker being asked by his father to be “the savior of the broken, the beaten, and the damned,” while enjoying a parade together. The father then elaborates that he himself will be a “phantom” leading his son to join the “Black Parade,” establishing the central metaphor of the poem: the parade itself. These stanzas are littered with biblical allusions, with the son being tasked by his father with becoming a Christ figure for those in need and with defeating his “demons and all the nonbelievers.” Additionally, emphasis is further placed on these elements by the choice to use enjambment after lines five, six, eight, ten, eleven, and twelve. As with the rest of the poem, these stanzas are written in free verse with no evident rhyme scheme, though it is worth noting the use of slant rhyme in lines three and six, with “stand” and “damned.”

            Lines 19 through 36 deal with the speaker, presumably after the death of his father coping with life. The son goes through the “rise and fall” of existing, while knowing he cannot keep his father’s message to himself because doing so would prevent his father’s memory from carrying on. Macabre phrases such as “bodies in the streets” further the theme of death that permeates the poem, while uses of alliteration such as “decimated dreams” in line 32 and assonance with “will kill” in line 33, create a stronger sense of flow and establish a more lyric tone to the poem. This is in direct juxtaposition with informal language as well as pop culture allusions, which make the piece more accessible. The first of the two allusions is “the anthem won’t explain it,” which is a reference to the pop punk hit “The Anthem” by Good Charlotte, often considered a song that encapsulated the feelings of teens from that era. “Welcome to the Black Parade” contests that claim with “paint it black and take it back,” making reference to a classic song by The Rolling Stones and asserting that acknowledgement of the darker parts of life and yourself must be addressed to carry on.

            The subsequent section broadens the metaphor of the “Black Parade” to being a way to express one’s inner self. The narrator describes himself as unafraid and willing to show his scars, expressing that “the world will never take [his] heart.” Additionally, he follows up on his promise in stanza five to be “defiant to the end” by imploring readers to “give a cheer for all the broken.” And though the speaker is “not a hero,” he states that he “had to sing this song,” presumably because of not just his father but because of a genuine conviction. This is most evidenced by his saying “we’ll carry on” instead of “you’ll carry on.” All of these word choices reassure the audience that they are not alone, that it is okay to be themselves, and most importantly, that the speaker understands them.

             While the informal language and use of repetition, alliteration, and slant rhyme make the song pleasant to listen to, it is the central metaphor that reaches the inner optimist through the outer pessimist, which is why the song continues to be popular.