The Worst Songs I Have Ever Heard #10: My Chemical Romance Butchers My Favorite Bob Dylan Song

I was listening to Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” (from Highway 61 Revisited, the first Dylan album I ever owned) the other night when I got this sudden, overwhelming feeling of discomfort. I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me. I was relaxing at home, listening to my favorite Bob Dylan song, giving the dog a nice belly rub. My wife was in the other room getting ready for bed. It should have been a one hundred percent pleasant evening.

And that’s when it hit me: My Chemical Romance did a cover of “Desolation Row.” And Sweet Zombie Jesus, it’s fuck-terrible.

I found out about this little turd back before the movie version of Watchmen came out in 2009. But two years of targeted alcohol treatments had mostly eradicated the part of my brain that knew about it. The discomfort I experienced must have been the painful memory reasserting itself in my consciousness. I am now and forever marked by the fact that My Chemical Romance slaughtered a Bob Dylan masterpiece. Well, that’s not entirely true. Mostly, I’m marked by the fact that I can’t fucking stand My Chemical Romance and their cover of “Desolation Row” basically sums up every reason I have to dislike them.

But let’s look at the bright side first: at least My Chemical Romance didn’t do the full, eleven minute version of the song. They cherry-picked about three minutes of it to torture with their particular brand of suckitude. Also on the bright side, their performance should give the lie to the myth that all of Bob Dylan’s songs are better when someone else sings them. Because let’s get one thing straight right now: Gerard Way, who looks like the bastard offspring of Billy Corgan and a Muppet, cannot fucking sing. On this horrifying caricature of “Desolation Row,” Way sounds like a cat trying to whistle “Edelweiss” while its asshole turns inside out. I know some teenagers might disagree with me on that, but Bollocks! is a blog for grown-ups. So go the fuck to sleep.

The thing I love about Dylan’s version of “Desolation Row” is that he narrates it like a wandering Shakespearean fool, cataloging all the weird shit he sees in the world (I think Dylan did this on a lot of his best songs. Pretty much all of Blood on the Tracks feels that way to me). The best poetic moments in the original recording are wry observations like “everybody’s making love/ or else expecting rain” and “her profession is her religion/ and her sin is her lifelessness.” Both lines are omitted from the My Chemical Romance atrocity, which actually makes sense to me. If you’re in a band that writes shitty songs and you’re covering a song by a vastly superior songwriter, you might want to chop out the best bits lest they underscore the crappiness of your original material. In My Chemical Romance’s case, this logic would also apply if they were covering The Village People’s “In the Navy” or that horribly misguided “Do They Know It’s Christmas” song.

Of course, My Chemical Romance was bound to try and tart up “Desolation Row” and make it all anthemic (or what passes as anthemic to them. To me, it’s more anemic), which causes them to place emphasis in some really weird spots. For instance, Way chomps down insanely hard on the line “Bette Davis style” (according to Mr. Dylan, Cinderella puts her hands in her back pockets in this manner) for no reason at all. He also kinda fucks up the pronunciation here and it sounds like he’s saying “Some Buttered Anus Isle” (Where’s the cast of Jersey Shore taking their summer vacation? Some Buttered Anus Isle. Because if anyone enjoys some nice buttered anus, it’s the entire cast of Jersey Shore). And toward the end of the song, My Chemical Romance pasted some pseudo-epic crescendo around the line “is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene.” It’s pretty awkward. And when I say “pretty awkward,” I mean “straight-up, 8th Grade Dance Awkward.”

Bob Dylan’s phrasing doesn’t come off so badly in the original and I think that’s due to the fact that he’s not trying to sell you on the import of every single line, which is something that My Chemical Romance can’t help because they do it in every one of their own songs. If you watch their video for this song (don’t), you’ll see that they are fully decked out in their Proud Outsider costumes and they clearly want their “Desolation Row” to be a place where misfits like them are held to keep from freaking out the masses. But Dylan’s “Desolation Row” isn’t an outsider anthem; it’s simultaneously an insider’s lament and tribute to a place populated not with confident rebels but with tragic heroines (Ophelia is the gal whose sin is her lifelessness), wayfaring wise men (“Einstein disguised as Robin Hood”), misguided romantics (Romeo comes in moaning and leaves in an ambulance), and word-poisoned Casanovas. By dressing the song in leather jackets and Hot Topic T-Shirts, My Chemical Romance obliterates both its poetry and its universality.

But that’s okay because they also completely fuck the music. I know My Chemical Romance was never gonna keep the tasteful acoustic guitar noodles of Dylan’s original but I did not expect them to stick in a really wanky guitar solo that reminds me of both Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and a pretty incompetent kid at any given Guitar Center trying to recreate Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock performance of the national anthem. It’s among the most unintentionally hilarious bits of music I’ve ever heard. And yet this squall of bullshit provides a brief and very welcome respite from Gerard Way’s mewling, cat-with-a-purple-sock shenanigans.

In case you can’t tell, I’ve never liked My Chemical Romance. I think their music is contrived emo bullshit and I think they’re melodramatic to the point of being downright goofy, especially because they’re supposed to be adults. Their sadistic rendition of “Desolation Row” is pretty much all the evidence I need, though I’m sure I could find more. Of course, they’ve got legions of adoring fans, some of whom claim that My Chemical Romance literally saved their lives. For the record, I don’t have anything against My Chemical Romance saving lives. In fact, I’m so much in favor of My Chemical Romance saving lives that I’d like nothing better than for them to quit making music altogether and devote themselves to life-saving as a full-time gig.

Advertisements

45 thoughts on “The Worst Songs I Have Ever Heard #10: My Chemical Romance Butchers My Favorite Bob Dylan Song

  1. Pingback: Bob Dylan’s Finest Hour « Bollocks!

  2. Pingback: Highway Music « Bollocks!

  3. It’s laughable how the old hack thinks he knows everything about music. I mean, who else would know more about music than a self-proclaimed alcoholic?(I don’t know, maybe a music professor?) I don’t know whether it was the large amounts of alcohol you no doubt consumed back in the day or the drugs you probably did (considering the music scene during that era) that made you so closed-minded about what you thought was music, but it’s completely obvious that “whatever you grew up with was the best music ever, and nothing can compete.” But the BEST part about this thing HERE, is how the religious fan of the great Bob Dylan rants and raves about YET ANOTHER cover of one of his idol’s songs, and Bob Dylan HIMSELF was immensely pleased by My Chemical Romance’s version of his song.

    • First off, I’m not old. I’m not even forty. Second, I like plenty of new music – I just don’t like shitty emo bands. Third, Bob Dylan and I don’t have to agree on the goodness of covers of his songs. He’s wrong about this one. Thanks for playing!

  4. Still, can’t we just all respect each other here?

  5. Pingback: A Sound that Turns the Mountains into Sand « Bollocks!

  6. aw bad how some people don’t like MCR but still, everyone has their own opinions and shits- i do respect your opinion but still it really kind of hurt when you say those things to MCR…well..

  7. Wow what a load of bullshit. MCR are a good fucking band that make beautiful meaningful music, and must have good music tastes if they like bob dylan then, right? Not being mean but seriously you write on a blog expressing your hate for bands when you could be off listening to your precious bob dylan. you can have whatever opinion you like on anything. but the real trick is to keep some opinions people might take offence to in your head. to respect music, you don’t have to like it.

  8. wow i cant believe so may people actually like this shitty band. all comments here are pretty much defending them. first of all there is such a thing objective right or wrong people. just because a lot of people like something crappy, doesn’t mean its good in any way. The whole of Germany supported the Nazis you know. and just like that when you grow up, because i am assuming you’re at most very immature 16 year olds, you’ll realize how crappy MCR really are. and by the way im 20, so its not about the “old hacks”, music was objectively better back then.everything the man said is true, the pointless emphasis on certain lines, the shameless attempt to make it anthemic, etc. they butchered Dylan’s song, and if you cant see that then you’ve never heard Dylans version, fuckin fangirls.

    • You sound like a fucking 3 year old, just like the dipshit who wrote the fucking book insulting one of the most influential person in a lot of people’s lives

      • Why do you care what strangers on the internet think of the shitty band you like? Does my not liking them somehow threaten your enjoyment of their music? If so, you are probably the less mature of the two of us. Nobody forced you to come to my blog and ready something that would obviously upset you. You did that all on your own.

  9. Shut up bitch, if you dont like it, just dont listen it .l. Thats the best song i ever eard, its better than your fucking dammed life.

    • Well, now that we’ve all been cursed at by someone who can’t grasp the use of basic punctuation, I’m sure we’ll all change our minds about this horrible act of fuckery that you seem to think is a song.

  10. Hi, so I don’t care if you don’t like the song, but don’t make fun of the way Gerard looks. It has nothing to do with music, and it’s just plain offensive. When he put emphasis on certain lines it was to be dramatic. Theatrical. If you knew anything about MCR you would know that they were very dramatic.

  11. Each to their own, but I really like this song. At the end of the day, it isn’t necessarily meant to be as good as the original, and it was as much of a tribute to punk rock bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols as it was to Bob himself.

  12. “Because let’s get one thing straight right now: Gerard Way, who looks like the bastard offspring of Billy Corgan and a Muppet, cannot fucking sing. On this horrifying caricature of “Desolation Row,” Way sounds like a cat trying to whistle “Edelweiss” while its asshole turns inside out. I know some teenagers might disagree with me on that, but Bollocks! is a blog for grown-ups. So go the fuck to sleep.”
    Lol, did you actually say that this is a blog for grown-ups and call Gerard Way that offspring of a Muppet in one paragraph? Because only an immature BRAT, with NO intelligence or respect for other people would do that. What are you, like, a ten year old trying to think of good comebacks while pretending to be an adult? Because that’s completely what you sound like, asshole.
    “If you’re in a band that writes shitty songs and you’re covering a song by a vastly superior songwriter, you might want to chop out the best bits lest they underscore the crappiness of your original material.”
    Yeah, because I’m sure you’ve DEFINITELY written better songs than My Chemical Romance. (That was sarcasm, by the way.) And since you have such poor vocabulary, let me help you out a little bit – crappiness is not a word.
    “It’s among the most unintentionally hilarious bits of music I’ve ever heard. And yet this squall of bullshit provides a brief and very welcome respite from Gerard Way’s mewling, cat-with-a-purple-sock shenanigans.”
    You know what? Shut up about Gee! He’s an amazing singer, and you need to calm down.
    “In fact, I’m so much in favor of My Chemical Romance saving lives that I’d like nothing better than for them to quit making music altogether and devote themselves to life-saving as a full-time gig.”
    …You realize that its not just them who saves the lives, right? It’s kind of their MUSIC that saves lives….
    So, I am basically very irritated. I tried to look up the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, and for some reason this piece of garbage showed up on the search results. (Don’t ask me why, I wasn’t even searching for Desolation Row. I was looking for Summertime, which is a beautiful song, just saying.) And it is offensive, and rude, and pointless. And you have changed NO ONE’S opinion on MCR by writing this. I hope you’re proud.

    • I like how you got more upset the more you wrote. I didn’t write this to try to change anyone’s mind about My Chemical Romance. I wrote it to share my opinion, which nobody forced you to read.

      But yeah, I am kinda proud.

  13. You can go fuck yourself becuase My Chemical Romance is the best fucking band that was ever around. They are not “emo”. You would call THERE FUCKING ROCK ALBUM, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, fucking emo? How the hell did you get that. And they saved so many peoples lives and you have the nerve to fucking insult them?!?! I bet you never even listened to hardly any of their songs. How is the song Sing fucking emo?!?!? Did you know The Black Parade went platinum and reached #2? They are way better than any shitty band like fucking OneDirection or Justin Fucking Biber. I speak for all the true Mcr fans when I say that you don’t need to fucking attack the best band becuase you feel the need to make yourself feel better about Bob Dylan. And I think they did that song better than he becuase God dammit they are just that fucking good. And may I say again, go fuck yourself

  14. Who wrote this shit anyway?

    • That would be me. Why on earth did you read it? Are you a masochist? Go to bed.

      • How did you even get that? I don’t know what your definition is but I’m pretty sure I’m not one. And like other people that commented I found this on accident while looking for something else. And lastly, you do not own me, you do not know me. And last time I checked I can do whatever the hell I want

      • See, but so can I. That’s the whole point of writing what I think about some shitty band shittying up a song I like with their shittiness.

      • Please enlighten me on how they are shitty.

      • It’s all covered in the post. Look, musical taste is subjective – when I say something is shitty it is because it sounds to be like the band is literally taking a shit in my ears. That is my opinion and I should like to remind you that opinions about music do not matter. Your opinion is clearly different and we are not going to change each other’s mind because this is not an objective argument. Go outside, enjoy your day, and carry on liking the things you like.

  15. And dammit i don’t get what’s wrong with Gerard’s face anyway? He’s probably better looking than a lot of us. At least he doesn’t parade his face around on television like many people

  16. And dammit i don’t get what’s wrong with Gerard’s face anyway? At least he doesn’t parade it around like some people.

  17. Okay, i’m not trying have a go, but why did you have to say that? That’s my favourite cover that my chemical romance had ever done and you just completely ruined it for me. I know someone exactly like you, they can’t stand mcr and think they’re crap. But your statement is unimportant and invalid.

    • If my statement is unimportant and invalid (I agree with the former but not the latter, obviously), how could it possibly ruin a song for you? How many times do I have to tell you kids: you should not care what strangers on the internet think about the things you like.

  18. Why do you even blog.

  19. Okay, before I begin properly, let me start by saying that I’ve never particularly liked My Chemical Romance, either. I remember hearing one of their songs (‘I’m Not Okay’)back when I was about twenty (I’m twenty four, now) and laughing a little bit at the absurdity of lyrics. I did a little bit of research about the band when I got home that night, and never thought about it again.

    I am a huge nerd, and the Watchmen comics were a huge part of my childhood. Of course, I was psyched when I learned that a movie of them would be made (and a little daunted; after all, aren’t the movies always terrible in comparison to the books or comcis?). I stayed up-to-date on all news related to the film.

    I came across this (http://www.mtv.com/news/1591849/my-chemical-romances-gerard-way-says-its-been-so-difficult-to-keep-watchmen-bob-dylan-cover-under-wraps/) article during the time before the film was released.

    As you can see, it clearly states that the sound and length of the song was cut down to suit the purposes of the film. Which, you’ve gotta say, makes sense.

    As a Bob Dylan fan, I understand your pain. That song is pretty damn majestic, and the fact that MCR butchered it with their 80s punk crap is endlessly irritating.

    But, next time you decide to bitch and whine about something, do your research.

    Have a nice day.
    Velvacora

    • Researching the reason for the shortened length of a shitty song wouldn’t change my belief that the song is shitty.

      • That makes you sound fucked and so close minded that your only digging yourself deeper into a hole of bad music taste and judgment. How many of of mcr’s songs have you even listened to? Obviously very fucking few if all you can say is that theyre some ‘shitty emo band’… By putting this up on the internet you are just asking for people like me to reply. And before you tell me to ‘go to bed’ you might want to think that maybe I’m not some stupid teenager but someone you should be showing respect too?

      • Actually, I never ask people to reply. You should not care what strangers on the internet think of the things you like.

  20. I had too take 2 minutes to write this and say this blog sucks the dick of many men and so do you. Thank you

  21. Worst blog ever thanks for this waste of my time. One final note you need to lose all the hate you will have a heart attack

    • Since many men would take getting their dick sucked as a compliment, I can hardly been insulted by your words. Have a pleasant tomorrow!

    • Nobody forced you to read this. You wasted your own time. Choose better next time.

  22. Wtf is your problem?! MCR is amazing. Nuff said. Now fuck off.

    • Apparently, my problem is that people choose to come to my blog, read things that nobody forced them to read, and then get upset because they didn’t like the thing that they went out of their way to read. Now grow up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s