City of Roses
|Just recently I bought the new universally-acclaimed Green Day release "American Idiot".
Before now, I was never a Green Day fan and even considered them overrated, with the occasional single I liked of theirs.
But I just have to say, I believe "American Idiot" is a messy, accidental work of genius from this Bay-area trio.
Some who have given the album a onceover listen or heard of the release have called it another "Bush-bashing" record or political concept album.
But having listened to it a few times now, I have come to understand this album is far more than just a political album. Actually, only two of the tracks are really political ("American Idiot" and "Holiday"). In fact, it is an epic social tale, developing through each track, and each track actually segues together wonderfully.
Let me share with you my interpretation of the album:
1) "American Idiot": Meet the protagonist, Jesus of Suburbia. A confused, disoriented, angry kid who has no clue where to go in life, wanting his voice to be heard which is, "Don't want to be an American Idiot" or he doesn't want to be forced into the "redneck agenda" He has his political opinions and he hints them out as kind of a prologue to this epic story, as well as to set the stage for what's to come.
2) "Jesus of Suburbia": Now we get to know more about this young man in this nine-minute long, five-part track. He explains that he's been raised basically in rage-infused love, with neglegent parents (He never mentions his Mom's name, though he mentions the name Brad, which may mean he's his stepdad and his real life father is gone) In Part II of the song, he basically expresses how he hates this place ("City of the Damned"). Part III ("I Don't Care") expresses his apathy, like he's basically damned and there's nothing he can do about it so he just doesn't care about anything anymore. Part IV ("Dearly Beloved") is a moment of introspection or inquiry, asking "Hey, is this feeling natural, hey, maybe there is a way I can escape all this?". The final part ("Tales Of Another Broken Home") is after he thinks it over, and decides, "Enough is enough! I can't take this anymore, I'm leaving and starting a new life!")
3) "Holiday" (Jesus of Suburbia now is living life on the streets. He believes right now running away was the right thing to do. He is still all alone, but confident at this time as he expresses his political and anti-war sentiments to the world:
"Can I get another Amen? (Amen!)
There's a flag wrapped around the score of men,
A gag, A plastic bag on a monument
The title pretty much explains itself. He wants to take a holiday for the rest of his life from "Idiot America" and its hollow lies.
But this bold move proves to be consequential.)
4) "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (As time moves on, Jesus of Suburbia realizes he is all alone. His happiness wears off here, and finds only his shadow is walking beside him.)
5) "Are We The Waiting" (Jesus of Suburbia continues to walk the lonely road, only feeling more numb than ever. He even wonders if he doesn't know who he is anymore. He wonders if he is even the Jesus of Suburbia.)
6) "St. Jimmy" (Finally, Jesus of Suburbia reaches a dramatic turning point when he meets St. Jimmy on the streets, the "patron saint of the denial", who is basically the epitome punkkid. He's the toughest, most street-smart guy around, who knows the city like the palm of his hand, and has lived his life on the streets himself. Befriending him will change Jesus of Suburbia, who is obviously more shy in comparison.)
7) "Give Me Novocaine" (Jesus of Suburbia and St. Jimmy hang out and do drugs. Jesus of Suburbia begins to depend on them in being the "novocaine" to ease the aches in his life.)
8) "She's A Rebel" (Jesus of Suburbia meets a girl named Whatsername with a rebellious spirit to her. It's love at first sight, and Jesus of Suburbia falls head over heels to her. The song introduces her. The mood also changes to one of the most upbeat on the record obviously.)
9) "Extraordinary Girl" (Jesus of Suburbia falls deeply and madly in love with her, and this is like the lovesick expression song. His feelings for her is like a fever to him.)
10) "Letterbomb" (However, this love ends up proving too good to be true for him. As Whatsername comes to know him better, she realizes that Jesus of Suburbia has become everything he's hated, considering St. Jimmy a bad influence on him, etc.
"You're not the Jesus of Suburbia.
The St. Jimmy is a figment of,
your father's rage and your mother's love,
that's made the Idiot America"
She says she can't love someone like that so explains the "letterbomb", a letter she sends to Jesus of Suburbia that hits him hard. She also leaves him with words that will haunt Jesus of Suburbia on and on from here:
"Nobody likes you, everyone left you..." )
11) "Wake Me Up When September Ends" (Now Jesus of Suburbia is back where he started; depressed, forsaken, alone. Only the pain is deeper than ever, because now he feels he isn't innocent anymore as well. "September" could very well be an allusion to September 11th.)
12) "Homecoming" (The other epic track, over nine-minutes long and in five parts. Jesus of Suburbia decides it can't get any worse than this, so he decides to leave the streets, accept conformity and return home, as much as he hates it. He explains it to St. Jimmy, and feeling defeated, St. Jimmy commits suicide, revealing that this cruel world can even taunt the toughest man. In Part II, "East 12th Street", he gets a new job he doesn't like at all and surrenders to "Idiot America". He feels trapped and devastated. In Part III, "Nobody Likes You", he still is crying that he lost his love interest Whatsername, with her words still plaguing him like a ghost:
"Nobody likes you, everyone left you..."
In Part IV, "Rock 'N Roll Girlfriend", one of his friends from the street, Tunny, sends him a postcard, telling Jesus of Suburbia Whatsername is doing just fine, living her rock and roll fantasy life, as is he. And in the final part, "We're Coming Home Again", he returns home, where he remains numb and defeated, but just comes to accept everything.
13) "Whatsername" (The final track on "American Idiot" reveals that though he accepts all that has happened, and grateful for the knowledge he's earned from his experiences elsewhere, he still cries that he's lost and can't have Whatsername. He never even knew her name, and is only left with memories of her, wondering what could have been:
"If my memory serves me right,
I'll never turn back time,
but not the time." )
"American Idiot", I truly believe, is going to become soldified as one of the greatest records of this era. And I believe it deserves to be.
Already it has gone double-platinum here in the U.S, which is a remarkable achievement for any rock record in this time where the music industry is struggling overall, and still being in the Top Five on Billboard, something tells me this album is far from being finished being promoted.
I am optimistic so many young people out there will be influenced by this record and Green Day may, just may, be the ones to inspire another rock and roll revolution.
What are your thoughts on this record?
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"