My first time falling in love with an album coincided with my first time falling out of love with a person, during my freshman year of high school.

The relationship, in my freshman year of high school, was never clearly defined, and the end was even less so, which meant I had a lot of pent-up emotion left over afterward and nothing to do with it. Up until that point, I’d never really listened to music, much less been emotionally impacted by a song; the extent of my musical tastes was whatever was playing on 98.7 AMP radio, combined with whatever songs my close friends forced me to listen to every once in a while. Most of my musical experience was focused on instrumental and classical music because I took piano lessons from when I was 8 years old up until eighth grade.

Yellowcard’s When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes marked the beginning of my passion for all things punk rock. Before that album, I’d had only a vague idea of how music could move people. After months of repeated listening, I felt connected with the artist on a near spiritual level; I remember being amazed that something could strike such a chord within me. That album still brings back memories of my frozen hands clenched tightly around my phone, earbuds plugged in tightly, marching doggedly back home from the bus stop after an exhausting day at school.

I started listening to My Chemical Romance not long after I was first introduced to Yellowcard by one of my close friends, but in a twist of irony, I didn’t really get into them until right after the band broke up in March of 2012. Where Yellowcard was a tentative toe dipped into rock, MCR was a dive headfirst into the emo genre. The first song I heard by them was “Welcome To The Black Parade,” one of the most prominent tracks in My Chemical Romance’s entire discography. Even though it was six years old by the time I was in ninth grade, I’d never heard it before, and the immeasurable energy somehow folded within the five minutes and eleven seconds of the recording left me absolutely speechless.

I didn’t think it was even remotely possible to memorize the lyrics to all 80-plus songs in MCR’s discography, but it happened all by itself. I love all four of their main albums, but their first album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, will always hold a place in my heart for the way it never fails to invigorate me from head to toe. Nothing else I’ve heard so far can even begin to match Gerard Way’s raw, hoarsely passionate vocals, the haunting melodic lines and churning guitar of which Bullets is comprised. Even today, “Our Lady Of Sorrows” and “Demolition Lovers” remain some of my favorite songs in my musical collection.

For me, punk rock was never about simply rebelling for the heck of it. Punk rock finds beauty in the unexpected, flavored with a unique brand of musical flair and punctuated by aggressive musicality and heavy emotion. It has become my conceptual home away from home and transformed listening into an act of tangible comfort, a personal safe haven there for me whenever I might need it.

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