My Chemical Romance – “Helena” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“Helena” is an emotional outburst about the death of a loved one. The lyrics mainly focus on the hurtfulness of grief, but they also hint at the possibility of meeting again with the deceased. It’s a painful reflection on the distance we feel between ourselves and the dead, as well as a meditation on the afterlife. While touching on these themes, the track also manages to hint at a feeling of guilt among the living.

My Chemical Romance reportedly took inspiration for the song from a number of places. Musically, some of the track’s sound was inspired by “Aces High,” an Iron Maiden song. Lyrically, the main inspiration was the death of Gerard and Mikey Way’s grandmother, who was very important to them.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these dark lyrics in order to reveal their hidden meaning. We’ll also examine the universal themes that make this song so relatable, as well as the songwriting story. Without further ado, let’s begin!

“Helena” Lyrics Meaning

The song begins by quickly establishing death as the backdrop for the whole track. Specifically, it mentions the distance felt between the dead and the living. “Just like the hearse” used to carry the body of the dead, the narrator feels “so far” from his lost loved one. Simply put, the lost person is being transported far away from the land of the living.

The living are still “burning on,” indicating that the pain is consuming them. The dead person in the track was able to “incinerate the lives” of their loved ones on Earth by dying. Basically, the narrator feels suddenly reduced to nothing by their loss.

In the pre-chorus, the narrator continues elaborating on loss. He asks himself how much this pain will take from him. In wanting to know what the “worst you [lost person] take” will be, he concludes that it will change him forever. Like the “stain” left by scars from a blade, this event will leave a permanent mark.

The chorus describes being forced to accept the loss and separation. The narrator says, “things are better if I stay,” as an assurance that he will stay alive, which keeps him separated from the afterlife. He says “so long and goodnight” to his loved one for now.

According to Gerard Way, wanting to die has sometimes been an issue for him – especially after losses. However, he stated (regarding the track) that his “self-hatred” had begun to transform into “caring about” himself and “wanting to stay alive.” This is why it is better if he stays.

The second verse is lyrically briefer than the first and focuses on the end of the deceased person’s life. In their final days, “every star fall” brought this person “to tears,” indicating they were highly emotional before dying.

Gerard Way has confirmed the idea that “Helena” has to do with the “last year” of his grandmother’s life. He regrets not being there for her during that difficult time, which may explain the painful images in verse two.

After another chorus, there is a strange bridge in the track. It is devoted to describing the uncertainty the narrator feels about where his loved one actually is. He wonders if they can “hear” him but isn’t sure. However, he does seem somewhat certain that they will “meet again” when their “cars collide.” This is intended to be a reference to his own death.

After the bridge, there is one more chorus before the song closes. To sum up, “Helena” is about the mixed emotions the narrator feels after the death of a loved one. We can all understand the complex pain involved in grief, and the song owes its success to that universality.

The Story Behind “Helena”

“Helena” was created for MCR’s 2004 album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. This album, according to Gerard Way, is “blatantly about loss and death.” When looking at the inspiration for this song, it’s important to keep in mind that it fits within the broader concept of the album.

Musically speaking, the track was reportedly inspired by an Iron Maiden song called “Aces High.” This track’s dynamic tempo and rushing vocal intensity can clearly be heard in “Helena.” MCR clearly made something original with this as a base.

Lyrically, the important catalyst was the death of Gerard and Mikey Way’s grandmother, who was known as “Helen” to friends. Gerard took this death hard and has tied some of his problems with alcoholism to this death. The track deals with the anger, guilt, and pain associated with this loss.

MCR’s message clearly resonated with many people. “Helena” became a certified Gold record in the United States and charted on the Top 40. Variety once ranked the song as one of the twenty-five best emo songs of all time in 2022. Critically and commercially, the track can only be called a success.

The next time you press play on this emotional hit, let this little bit of background information make it even more special!