Day 12: Green Day – American Idiot

Day 12: Green Day – American Idiot

Tracklisting

  1. American Idiot – 2:52
  2. Jesus of Suburbia – 9:09
  3. Holiday/Boulevard of Broken Dreams – 8:14
  4. We Are the Waiting/St. Jimmy – 5:38
  5. Give Me Novacaine/She’s A Rebel – 5:27
  6. Extraordinary Girl/Letterbomb – 7:40
  7. Wake Me Up When September Ends – 4:46
  8. Homecoming – 9:19
  9. Whatsername – 4:18

About the Album

American Idiot is the seventh studio album from punk-rock band, Green Day. American Idiot runs like a rock opera… it tells the story of “Jesus of Suburbia” a character with an anti-hero image that frontman and guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong created. American Idiot reached number 1 in 19 different countries certifying itself as one of the greatest albums of the past decade.

The tracklist/story

If are unware or did not notice or even haven’t heard it before, this is most definitely a rock-opera. Here’s my interpretation… also MAJOR SPOILER ALERT

“American Idiot”, the title name track, hits hard and fast at 2:52. It is an introduction to the setting and mood of the story; describes the current way of life in America and the issues some have with it.

“Jesus of Suburbia” is a 5-piece tiered song. We are introduced to the main character, Jesus of Suburbia, so named because he’s a typical suburban kid (there’s nothing wrong with me/this is how i’m supposed to be): his parents are divorced, he sits around watching TV, and experiments with drugs. He feels an emptiness in his life. Eventually, he grows massively discontented with his life after seeing the indifference throughout his life and other’s lives. Fed up to the point of breaking, Jesus leaves home in search of meaning and a purpose in his life.

“Holiday/Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, we find our protagonist meditating on the problems with modern American government and society as he wanders the streets of the city to which he has run away. Jesus of Suburbia laments his lonliness in this new place. This song hints at the upcoming emergence of St. Jimmy (I’m walking down the line that divides me somewhere in my mind).

“Are We the Waiting/St. Jimmy”: Still alone, Jesus wonders what will become of him. He comes to reject his identity (the Jesus of Suburbia is a lie) and decides to create a new one, leading to… the introduction of “St. Jimmy,” the punk street kid personality that Jesus invents to go along with his new life. This persona rejects the cushy suburban life led by Jesus; Jimmy is a violent, drug dealing, malevolent criminal. As Jimmy, he falls in with a crowd of like-minded youth in the city.

“Give Me Novocaine/She’s Rebel”, in accordance with his new personality, Jesus/Jimmy becomes increasingly reliant on drugs. This leads to the introduction of “Whatsername,” an anarchist/punk girl that Jimmy meets and falls in love with. Her nonconformist ideals appeal greatly to Jimmy.

“Extraordinary Girl/Letterbomb”: Deals with Jimmy’s frustration with his inability to express his true feelings for Whatsername, as well as the sadness and lonliness hidden underneath Whatsername’s outwardly tough persona. “Letterbomb” is probably the most complex songs of the album, but more importantly is probably the most important pertaining to the story. Jimmy’s new life and new friends settle down into a form of boring monotony, similar to Jimmy’s old life as Jesus of Suburbia. Whatsername, however, still longs for the unbridled anarchy. She’s become as disillusioned with her current life as Jesus was with his at the beginning of the story. She harshly criticizes Jimmy, telling him–possibly via writing a letter, which would explain the song’s title–that his new personality is just as empty as his old one, and neither is his true self. Fed up, much like Jesus was at the beginning of the story, Whatsername leaves town, leaving Jesus/Jimmy behind.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends”: Jesus/Jimmy is alone and depressed over Whatsername’s decision to leave.

“Homecoming”, is another 5 tiered piece. There is a major conflict between the two personalities in his mind, ultimately ending with the destruction of St. Jimmy. The Jesus of Suburbia persona returns, buts longs to escape, but can’t. He becomes lonely and depressed, and goes through a midlife crisis of sorts… going through a wild rock and roll binge. Unable to find meaning in anything, Jesus returns to his boring, middle class suburban life (their time has come and it’s gone nowhere, nobody ever said that life was fair). Basically, Jesus ends up right back where he started, unable to find the fulfillment and meaning in his life that he went searching for so long ago. However, even though the character basically ends up as the kind of “loser” he always wanted to avoid becoming, he does find some kind of comfort in returning to his original empty existence.

“Whatsername”: After all is said and done, Jesus of Suburbia reflects on his life. While reflecting on his life, he begins to wonder if Whatsername ever found the fulfillment she was looking for.

Thoughts on the album

Where to begin. Where to begin! Musically speaking, it is a guitar heavily album. It is a very ambitious album to say the least. I will say this, there is a lot… I mean A LOT of stuff to absorb in this album. Some dismiss this album as being a mess, but in my opinion, it is rich and multi-layered and multifaceted; so much so, one that is bracing upon the first spin and grows in stature and becomes more addictive with each repeated play. This album is, again, in my opinion, is brilliant. A masterpiece, and I rarely say that about any album. The sound matches typical Green Day sound… loud, in-your-face, urgent, politically charged, and “muscular.”

American Idiot, we see the music isn’t only tougher, it’s fluid and, better still, it fuels the anger, disillusionment, heartbreak, frustration, and scathing wit at the core of it.

Conclusion

It’s a definite must own. The storytelling by Armstrong and rest of Green Day in this album is almost perfect. American Idiot is one of the few albums that will go down as one of the greatest of a generation. Arguably one of the best albums of the last decade, no music lover can afford to miss not owning this album.

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