by Jason D. Greenough
If you were to say, in September of 2004, that Green Day’s follow up to the less-than-exciting Warning would create a firestorm of epic proportions, a lot of people would have scoffed. But times were turbulent and called for a revolution. What better way to reach the masses than through the speakers of a stereo?
It has now been a decade since the release of American Idiot, but it still feels like yesterday when I first heard that song about September that opened my eyes to not only what great music was, but also the growing problems in American culture. From the opening riff of the title track, Idiot packed a punch that nobody saw coming. It is a vow of non-conformity, and the “new” Green Day is back on top of the music world.
In the 56-minute diatribe, front man Billie Joe Armstrong and company use their no-holds-barred punk-rock swagger to set fire to a world that was plagued by political frustration and oppression, while reflecting the emotions of those who wanted to see a change. In a time where standing up to “The Man” was frowned upon by many on Capitol Hill, the East Bay trio made it seem easy. While the album dives into Armstrong’s subconscious and uses a lot of his own life experiences and thoughts as the basis for its music, many who listen to it can instantly relate to the raw emotion poured into every song. For those bitter and angry at the state of the union, “American Idiot”, “Jesus of Suburbia”, as well as “Holiday” and “Are We the Waiting” give a voice to the outspoken. “Wake Me Up When September Ends”, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Give Me Novocaine” bring solace to those lost in loneliness and pain. It was, and still is in many ways, an anthem for the misunderstood.
The album breaks apart the monotony of silence that seemed to sweep across radio waves when it came to voicing outrage over the decisions of the commander-in-chief, and quite aggressively at that.
In today’s music scene, many of the songs topping the pop charts fade into the abyss after a few weeks. But it has been 10 years since American Idiot, and the messages relayed are still all too relevant today. It really tells an ever-present story that every generation goes through. That is why this album has been, and will remain for many years to come, one of the most influential albums of all-time.