American Idiot by Green Day
Growing up in Malaysia is not necessarily easy. With local books, adults and the government trying to convince children how perfect, how great, how amazing our country is when you know otherwise; it never is. You get this sense of disillusionment when people are trying to convince you how perfect it is.
But it never is perfect, is it? As to my knowledge, nothing on Earth is perfect. Listening to American Idiot by Green Day, I was able to relate. Especially since I became a teenager earlier this year. I started to think… differently. The album helped me go through it all.
American Idiot follows through the struggles and challenges of a young man in his late teens to his early twenties (his age wasn’t specified), who calls himself the Jesus of Suburbia (Jesus or JoS for short).
The album starts with the song, American Idiot. It is basically the Jesus of Suburbia voicing his views on America. How it is ‘controlled by the media’ and such.
Next comes the song, Jesus of Suburbia. The song is split into five parts. Part 1 is an introduction to the Jesus of Suburbia. He describes himself as the ‘son of rage and love’ on a ‘steady diet of soda pop and ritalin.’
Part 2, City of the Damned, is an introduction to his home in the suburban wastelands where the 7-11 is the ‘center of the Earth.’ The lyrics, “Lost children with dirty faces today/ Noone really seems to care,” states that everyone in his suburban home only think of themselves.
I Don’t Care, which is the third part of the song, is Jesus voicing his opinions about the world, hence, “Everyone’s so full of sh**/ Born and raised by hypocrites.” The lyrics, “I don’t care if you don’t,” is him stating that since nobody cares about him, why should he care for anybody else? That’s a good point and this is one of the lyrics that I find… relatable.
The part is followed by Dearly Beloved. Dearly Beloved is Jesus speaking to the society, telling them to wake up: “Dearly Beloved, are you listening?” He then questions himself, wondering, “Are we demented or am I disturbed?” and, “Am I retarded or am I just overjoyed?” Sarcasm is also used in the song: “Oh therapy, can you please fill the void?” to cover up his cry for help.
Next, is my favorite part and also the last part, Tales From Another Broken Home. “To live and not to breathe is to die in tragedy,” has two meanings. It means that JoS is not living; he’s merely existing and/or that living and not breathing, which is not caring to do something about our crappy lives (if it is), is a mockery to our existence. He plans to go to the city and see what’s is there for him.
The next song is Holiday. It shows his excitement in the city. He also went to a party and he was overwhelmed. Excited.
The song is immediately followed by Boulevard of Broken Dreams, one of my favorite songs. While Holiday is a party, Boulevard of Broken Dreams is the hangover that follows. He wishes that ‘someone out there will find him.’
Are We the Waiting is the fifth song of the album. I find this song most relatable as I can feel this sense of disillusionment. He is waiting for the unknown. He shows his disappointment to the city. It wasn’t as he expected.
This song is immediately followed by St. Jimmy. It is an introduction to a new character called, St. Jimmy. He is a drug dealer who JoS meets in the city.
Give Me Novacaine is the song that follows. It is one of my favorites and one of the most relatable. The song states that Jesus wants to be numb, “Drain the pressure from the swelling/ This sensation’s overwhelming/ Give me a long kiss goodnight and everything will be alright/ Tell me that I won’t feel a thing/ So give me novacaine.” Novacaine is a substance the dentist use to numb the gums. The fourth line of the last chorus, “Tell me Jimmy I won’t feel a thing,” is Jesus surrendering to St. Jimmy. St. Jimmy begins to control him.
In She’s a Rebel, he meets a girl called Whatsername. Nobody knows her name therefore calling her whatsername, “She’s the one that they call ole’ whatsername.” He falls in love with her, “And she’s holding on my heart like a hand grenade.”
But alas, their relationship is a difficult one as shown in Extraordinary Girl. With his drug addiction and such, it is bound to be. Whatsername is sad and it is shown that she is a true rebel unlike Jesus.
The next song is Letterbomb, in which whatsername leaves JoS with a letter. She breaks up with him through the letter. She was upset due to his addiction to drugs and he shows no signs of stopping. She says, “You’re not the Jesus of Suburbia,” and reveals, “The St. Jimmy is a figment of your father’s rage and your mother’s love.” She meant that he wasn’t the same person she met and that St. Jimmy is just a manifestation of his identity.
Wake Me Up When September Ends is the next song. It is a tribute to Billie Joe Armstrong’s, the lead singer of Green Day, father, who died of cancer in September. It is also about an adult reminiscing being a young adult. In the album, it shows that a heartbroken Jesus is hoping for better days. His father was presumedly dead as stated, “Like my father’s come to pass/ Seven years has gone so fast.”
The second last song, Homecoming is also broken down into five parts. Part one is the Death of St. Jimmy. It shows that St. Jimmy could no longer reach out to JoS. It shows his metaphorical suicide.
Part 2, East 12th Street, states that Jesus got a desk job at a ‘facility on East 12th Street.’ Jesus though, wants to be free and get out of the city. He rather have ‘cigarettes and coffee with the underbelly.’ In part 3, Nobody Likes You, he bemoans his outcast state.
In Rock ’N Roll Girlfriend, he gets a postcard from his friend, Tunny, who assumed that Jesus is still St. Jimmy. He shows off his rock ’n roll life. The last part, We’re Coming Home Again, is about Jesus coming back ‘to the Barrio,’ his home.
In the final song, Whatsername, he remembers the times. He says, “I remember the face but I can’t recall the name/ Now I wonder how whatsername has been.” He wonders what happened to whatsername. He states that she has been in his head for so long. He says the ‘regrets are useless’ and he will never turn back time. “Forgetting you but not the time,” the last line states.
All in all, it is an amazing album. It is not Dookie, it is not Nimrod, it is not 39/Smooth, nor is it Insomniac. It is not completely punk rock either. But it is a great album altogether. It is rated no.1 best rock and metal album from the 2000s by Kerrang! magazine.
I’ve got to admit though, I have never written anything more that 1000 words in two days. I hope you enjoyed reading this.