Green Day’s politically acclaimed 7th studio album (5th with Reprise Records) celebrates its 9th anniversary today. The album was released September 20th 2004, produced by long-time friend Rob Cavallo, recorded at Studio 880 in Oakland, CA and Ocean Way Recordings in Hollywood, CA from April 2003-March 2004. The record reached number 1 in the US, sold 15 million copies, received some Grammys, was adapted as a musical in Berkeley, CA in 2009, and made its way to Broadway on April 20th, 2010. Hits include “American Idiot”, “Jesus of Suburbia”, “Holiday”, “Blvd. of Broken Dreams” (titled after a James Dean picture), and “Wake Me Up When September Ends” (based on the death of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s late father) .
The album originally consisted of different tracks and was titled “Cigarettes and Valentines” until the master tapes were stolen from the band’s studio. The missing tracks still remain a mystery to this day, yet some good came out of it. Without this mishap, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre’ Cool, would have never put their ideas together and created one the best political/punk rock operas of their musical career. American Idiot helped fuel Green Day’s resurgence, and was their most popular album since 1994’s Dookie. American Idiot was inspired by musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, West Side Story, and rock legends/geniuses The Who. This was Green Day’s first conceptual album and certainly not their last (2009’s 21st Century Breakdown is the follow-up).
American Idiot follows the storyline and characters created by musical genius Billie Joe Armstrong. The album starts off with the hit, “American Idiot” to help introduce the concept of idiot America. The second track introduces the anti-hero of the plot in “Jesus of Suburbia”. The Jesus of Suburbia character is fed up with everyone and disgusted with his hometown. He ends up leaving for the city. As he travels, he encounters war, loneliness, and the question of ethics. Track hits “Holiday”, “Blvd. of Broken Dreams”, and “Are We The waiting?” help bring these concepts to life. New characters are introduced in hits “St. Jimmy” and “S
he’s A Rebel”. The St. Jimmy character represents the Jesus of Suburbia’s alter ego and everything he strives to be. Whatshername is the Jesus of Suburbia’s love interest and represents the rage and love theme throughout the record. As the record progresses, alter ego St. Jimmy is metaphorically killed off in “Homecoming”. Jesus of Suburbia and Whatshername eventually go their separate ways. Jesus of Suburbia returns home and his love interest becomes a faded memory in the track “Whatshername”.
Rating: 5 out of 5 for originality, being politically expressive during the President Bush era, following a storyline/rock opera concept, and taking a musical career risk with new material.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Owner & Founder of The Music Universe and Atolma Productions.