- Artist: Green Day
- Released: 2004 on Reprise Records
- Genre: Rock
In the light of America’s presidential candidates battling for Obama’s throne in the White House (and jumping through the circus hoops for the rabid press), there’s no better time than now to reflect on this album.
Once upon a time, during the noughties, President George Bush Jr. led American troops towards the the infamous “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq and Afghanistan and tore the economics of America (and the world) into pieces in the process, which filtered through to Billie Joe Armstrong, who had been keeping an eye on the news. Incidentally, the master tapes of their upcoming album had been stolen when the studio they had been recording in was broken into. In hindsight, it was a massive stroke of luck for Green Day, who were twiddling their thumbs regarding their musical direction after Warning, with American Idiot selling over 15 million copies (and probably still counting). They’ve found it hard to top this ever since – I bought the abysmal 21st Century Breakdown and have since fought the urge to kick myself for not getting American Idiot.
When this came out, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. I remember seeing an advert for it on TV (do they still do adverts for music albums?) , and being the 14-year old ignoramus that I was, I turned to my mum and asked, “Why are they all dressed like that?” And then a year later, I accompany my good friend to the local CD store as she buys the album. She kindly lends it to me, and upon hearing the first few tracks my mind is blown. I no longer remain an ignoramus, and we soon obsess over the lyrics and tracks. I soon become a full-blown teenager, complete with wonky spectacles and awkward behaviour. We scribble the lyrics on a piece of paper during art class, and I draw a replica of the bleeding heart artwork. The album becomes my companion every single morning, after my mum leaves the house to go to work at a factory, where people obviously below her caliber bully her every week, and I get left at home to my own devices when she goes out on the weekends, which warms me to the slacker fate of Jesus In Suburbia (“The living room/Or my private womb/When the Mum’s and Brad’s are away). I also attempt to write my own grandiose version of American Idiot-inspired canon, where St. Jimmy arrives at the Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and ponders his own hopeless future (The American Idiot musical gets its first staging in 2009 – telling, eh?). I also ponder the meaning of Whatsername and wonder if my absent dad ever thinks of my mum like how Jesus ever did. I don’t think so.
It’s probably the only punk record that has resonated with me – being one of the slacker teens of our generation, the millenials, who either witnessed George Bush’s tenure either firsthand, or felt the aftereffects as the consequences sunk in – the subsequent xenophobia resulting from the September 11 bombings, the loss of innocence, the confusion. In many ways, it also feels like OUR punk moment.
Here’s the first 9-minute song off American Idiot: The Jesus Of Suburbia!