American Idiot. An American Classic?

I’ve always been in awe of Green Day. Ever since I was a little kid. To, for a moment, indulge in a little harmless fanboy-ing, there was something about the trio of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool that spoke to me on a damn near ancestral level. I remember that September morning in 2004 when my mother, the usual catalyst for my musical obsessions, came into my bedroom with an enormous Cheshire Cat grin on her face.

“It’s out, Wills”.

I immediately knew what she meant. We’d been following news and reviews feverishly. Its not very often your favourite band drops a new album. Honestly when she whipped out that ass kicking album outwork, I knew exactly what the rest of our day would entail. We sat down, hit play and pricked up our ears.

God, I’ll never forget hearing the opening of the albums title track roar out over our shitty little speakers. Matter of fact I’ll never forget the one after that, or the one after that. You know what let’s break down what was racing through my 6 year old head, a sort of subliminal track by track commentary, if you will. Strap in.

American Idiot was loud, proud, and unlike anything else I’d ever heard. It’s the perfect opening to Green Day’s opus. Having grown up and learned all about the state of the nation when the album dropped has only skyrocketed my adoration for the title track. If being an American Idiot is this cool, count me in. Nuff said.

Jesus Of Suburbia was nine minutes long. NINE FUCKING MINUTES LONG. Safe to say 6 year old Will had never heard anything quite as bombastic before, but he certainly wasn’t using words like bombastic back then. Truthfully in my young eyes and ears it was all noise, beautiful noise.

The magic didn’t stop there, oh god it was just getting started. Next on the now infamous track list was Holiday with that incredible segway into Boulevard of Broken Dreams. You all know the one. Wuh wuh wuh wuh. It was, and forever will be an immediate standout, the pain in Billie Joe’s voice, the tenacity of the lyrics, the desperately lonely quality the whole song punches you in the face with. 6 year old Will certainly felt it then, and almost 21 year old Will feels it still. Incredible stuff, a true classic.

Whats next? Oh yes, more face shredding glory. The band’s tour de force continues with three more sandwiched two track eargasms. Are We the Waiting/St Jimmy, Give Me Novicaine/She’s A Rebel and Extraordinary Girl/Letterbomb. Jesus Christ Green Day please give my fragile heart a break. All three are iconic, but for entirely different, but equally punk rock reasons. Okay okay, so these three are often the overlooked scorned middle children from AI, but there’s a sophistication to them, and they delve into deeply important, far reaching and frankly terrifying subject matter. Safe to say young impressionable Will wasn’t ready for the drug abusing, hard drinking lyricism, or the real shit, if you will. But what a ride the three offerings provided, and of course continue to provide. They are quite simply untouchable. Each is a deep dive into brutal and painful stuff, but Armstrong Dirnt and Cool execute it so beautifully its as if Van Gogh painted a murder scene.

Also side note, heed my glowing review and listen to this album from start to finish, no breaks, no distractions, just you and the music. I reckon you will feel ALL the feelings. Also, the transition between Extraordinary Girl and Letterbomb. That will be all.

Speaking of feeling all the feelings, it’s about to get emotional (if it wasn’t already, of course it was, hold it together). The final three tracks begin with the eye of the emotional hurricane. Ladies and Gentlemen, Wake Me Up When September Ends. Let’s apply some context, the album was released in September 2004, three years almost to the day after America lost a part of herself, probably forever. Armstrong also lost his father during this period, meaning he and America both had a lot of healing to do. Wake Me Up is that healing, it’s cathartic, raw, honest and exhilarating. Green Day manage to create something undeniably beautiful out of the ugliest of moments. 10/10.

Okay, once you’ve stopped crying let’s get back to it. Still with me? Awesome. Home stretch. After Holiday and Boulevard of Broken Dreams who’d have thought Green Day had the idea of whacking in another nine minute odyssey, but here we are. Presenting Homecoming for your consideration. Another song that’s really 7 or 8 songs in one (alright lads no need to overachieve), the song is as balls to the wall ‘we don’t give a fuck’ as they come. It dropkicks the solemn mood established by Wake Me Up and drags the listener kicking and screaming into an energetic race to the finish line.

The penultimate song, in an album full of dark horses is yet another secret weapon. It’s presented in nine equally perfect movements. We all still know the words, rock and roll will never die, and in my humble, oh so humble opinion, it’s largely because of this record, it certainly changed the face of Green Day as a band, and Rock Opera as a genre. Frankly, dear reader, you can’t change my mind. The album closes with the sombre Whatshername, an anthem for unrequited love and growing up, but frankly, with this album, if growing up means leaving things behind, it’s never gonna happen with this record. It’s quite frankly something else. I’ll leave you now to go and experience everything I’ve not shut up about. Trust me, just do it. Tell me I’m wrong.

William Rodger

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