The Bittersweet Story Behind My Chemical Romance's "Helena"
My Chemical Romance made a play for the mainstream with "Helena," the second single from their major-label debut Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Released as a single March 8, 2005, the album's opening track boosted their status in a big way, becoming their first song to reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100.
But while lead singer Gerard Way once described the album as a "pseudo-conecptual horror story," "Helena" had a much different real-life origin: it was written about Way's grandmother Elena, who was a huge inspiration on Gerard and his brother, bassist Mikey Way - teaching Gerard to sing and paint as a child.
Way later found solace in the song's iconic, funeral-themed music video, telling a biographer:
It was almost torturous to make. I showed up and the coffin was the same...There were a lot of moments that I had to leave that video. There was a very somber mood...Maybe that’s where the magic is in that video - because it came from a completely raw place. My grandmother's funeral was very hard and that video was like reliving it again. That video was very special, really personal.