Personalities | Green Day | Return To Form (2004) | Key Events
The song that was to revitalize the career of Green Day was a protest against the war in Iraq promulgated by American president George W. Bush. With lines like ‘Don’t want to be an American idiot,’ ‘I’m not part of a redneck agenda’ and ‘now everybody do the propaganda’ was a powerful anti-Bush statement. Musically, ‘American Idiot’ was energetic and compulsive and, despite some American radio censorship when released in September 2004, put Green Day back in the charts – worldwide. Green Day launched an anti-war petition on their website and Billie Joe was photographed with a ‘stop the war’ placard.
‘We’ve put everything on the line,’ Billie Joe told the NME, ‘we’ve put our career on the line for our point of view. By writing American Idiot we are putting our dookie on the line.’ American Idiot was a concept album or ‘punk opera’ about a young boy, Jesus of Suburbia, leaving home on a journey of self-discovery in Bush’s America and the people he meets: characters like the toxic St Jimmy and his nemesis Whatsername. Its musical cornerstones were the ambitious extended song cycles ‘Jesus Of Suburbia’ and ‘Homecoming’. Reviews were gushing and sales monstrous, with the album topping the charts in America and the UK.
Rallying The Voters
‘I was actually a little disappointed about other people not stepping up,’ Mike Dirnt told NME when discussing opposition to George W. Bush, Iraq and the ‘redneck agenda’ of the Republican party, ‘Where’s our Bonos or our Michael Stipes?’ Actually Stipe, along with R.E.M., performed on the Pro-Senator Kerry Vote For Change Tour of October 2004, headlined by Bruce Springsteen, which targeted swing states and encouraged voter registration. Although not invited to perform (Billie Joe: ‘they didn’t go into our age group’), Green Day appeared and posed for photos with Kerry on David Letterman’s The Late Show on 20 September.
‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’
‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ was the second single from American Idiot and the promotional video, directed by Samuel Bayer, intercut scenes of the band prowling desolate American countryside and a down-at-heel Los Angeles as Billie Joe sang with the band energetically performing the song in a warehouse. This powerful anthem gave Green Day their highest chart placing in America when it hit No. 2 in December; it reached No. 5 in the UK. In 2006 it won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year, beating competition from Mariah Carey, Gorillaz, Gwen Stefani and Kanye West.
Changing The Look
On the Pop Disaster Tour, it was Blink-182’s rotating drum solo that had the theatrical edge but American Idiot saw Green Day brand everything. Taking his cue from a lyric in ‘She’s A Rebel’ (‘heart like a hand grenade’), artist Chris Bilheimer designed an arresting image of a white hand clutching a red, heart-shaped hand grenade which served as the cover for American Idiot and stage-branded the upcoming American Idiot tour....
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