I know you'll never read this.
It seems pathetic to be back in the same place, feeling the same things. A lot has changed, and yet so much has remained the same. And a lot has led me back to this place, once again.
I took a job with a youth group this summer. The job provided an opportunity to work with youth away from the nepotism and delegation of the Y. But I didn't choose this program for that sole reason.
I chose this program because it would require me to be back here for a week. Here. I think I did it to test myself, to see how far I've come. To gloat in the face of my own shortcomings and failures. And so far, I have failed that test.
At every turn I've faced a different challenge. Empty benches and buildings are filled with a vivid swirl of memories and feelings that evoke a time when things seemed better. Things that I've since forgotten, or at the very least put in the back of my mind. Away from reality.
My reality has been good to me. I lost a lot of weight. Bought a lot of new clothes. Traded in my depression fueled taste of overpriced running shoes for button ups and neat pants. I had a successful year student teaching, and was the only one in my cohort to be hired to their district. I loved my work, though it was hard. I earned my masters, and made new friends as I did it. I'm going to be teaching geography and history in my community and make real money for the first time in my life. I'm proud of myself and everything that I've accomplished.
But through all that, I have yet to heal. I have healed some, but not enough.
I think I've spent the last two years looking for some great catharsis. Something that will come and give me the closure that I've sought for a long time now. This process -- this test -- has emphasized to me what I've known for a long time. There is no catharsis. My closure will come once I've learned to forgive myself for the misgivings that created this hole in the first place.
It's hard for me to admit when I'm wrong. That's true for the both of us. But between my initial desperation; the long nights spent lying awake, replaying everything back and forth and back again, and my initial resentment of you and your motives, I've come to the grand conclusion that I fucked up. In so many ways. You already know that, and I already knew that. I made excuses, and tried to blame you for them. Circumstances. To convince myself of an injustice, and validate my desperation. There are three sides to the truth, and now its time to acknowledge them. It's been time.
I'm sorry that I ever took you for granted.
I'm sorry that I allowed my insecurities to question the gift that you generously placed upon me.
I'm sorry that I didn't speak, or hold myself accountable. That I didn't seek help sooner. That I didn't address my toxicity in a real way. That I didn't recognize your pain sooner.
I made mistakes, many of which I will never forgive myself for.
I hope that you've moved forward, and done the things that you always wanted to do. I hope that you can read something like this and bask in the glow of knowing that you were right. Or at the very least smirk at the pathetic insistence that I continue to purport. You earned that much.
In the meantime, I will continue to try and be better. To learn from my mistakes and grow into the person that I want to be, for myself and for others. To accept those mistakes that deserve acceptance and address though which deserve action. To love myself in the way that you loved me.
I came to this place expecting closure, but instead I found that closure is built overtime. I hope that this is the beginning -- or the middle? -- of that process. I accept that a part of me, perhaps the most childlike in love, will always belong to you. But its time. It has been for a long while.
Californian band Green Day hit prominence with a shudder in 2004 when they released the tour de force American Idiot. The snotty nosed personas were wiped clean and maturity was installed making Green Day a band to consider taking seriously once again. In their heyday smoking cannabis and writing songs about sexual frustrations, Green Day pummelled the status quo, crafting tracks which had the three chord structure but intelligently weaved lyrics.
The style was dishevelled but compelling. And with their 1994 major label breakthrough album Dookie declaring the band from a mundane part of Berkeley kings of punk, a new chapter was written. Green Day would go on to sell more than ten million copies of Dookie, certifying them as the new frontrunners of 90s music.
It was extraordinary for a band of their nature to become colossal. Fronted by the ever flamboyant Billie Joe Armstrong, they began to excel and play out their hearts on the punk circuit, shredding the rule book and maximising their potential. A new craze was born, a wave of songs describing the mundanity of suburban life nestled perfectly into the CD players of the people who chose to listen.
In 2004, Green Day were a band on the side lines looking on at the ash of the past. They had to do something to create a buzz. In came their masterpiece American Idiot to steady the decline. The album is to this day, is a political rock opera, providing a story for dreamers and the alienated. It also took aim at the president and his catastrophic ‘’decisions’’.
American Idiot is pivotal album and has become a classic for the alienated, the freaks and the people who walk aimlessly carrying bottles of liquor and dreaming of better days. Throughout the record, there is a bloodline, a backbone, a chronicle all expressed from the mind of Armstrong. His lyrics have always been intelligent, but on the most discerning opus, he wrote strands of political poetry, words of venom.
These venomous lines all interlinked and spurred on a fable of mass examination of the most powerful country in the world. Green Day knew they had designed an album which was controversial and against the grain. But they had to do something extraordinary as previous record Warning didn’t inspire. It did have two or three moments of class, but it didn’t relight the flame.
Green Day were relevant again. They were walking proudly drenched in glamour, winning awards and being shot into the spotlight. Their new powerful record saved them from disbanding and cascading off into nothingness. Supported by new fans and the old faithful, the band began to sell out arenas. This showcased that this act which were a household name in the 90s, had the armoury of songs to stake a claim in the noughties.
American Idiot is a diverse compendium of songs all written and intertwined. Track number two Jesus Of Suburbia, is the most engaging piece of the puzzle. A 9 minute plus thriller, it captivated and made the hairs on the back stand rigid. Vocalist and lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool, knew they had produced a conceptual, story driven, extravaganza.
Jesus Of Suburbia isn’t only a song. It’s a journey of self-worth and self-reflection. St Jimmy is the protagonist of this venture into a drug fuelled, loveless, chaos. He’s on the side-lines, observing destruction. His heart is beating out of time, his blood is painted on the walls of the establishment.
Through the carnage, he sees no optimism. Tarnished clothes lie in the room of broken memories. His cheating girlfriend lies on the bed, smoking a joint, naked to the world and showcasing her destructive side. She finally removes herself from his chaotic life, leaving him lonely and shaking to a gust of wind that powers its way through the window.
He was once a dreamer, a saint. Love broke him. The snapshots of his mother cradling him are fading, she’s a junkie for love and substances. She smokes her lungs and distances herself from reality. The heart in her is black, there’s no doubt.
Through it all, he sees a light through cocaine abuse. His body isn’t a temple and he certainly hasn’t got an empire to control. He’s lost, St Jimmy is lost. Beaten and programmed to despise the world. With this story, Armstrong has built a powerful, cathartic, plot, worthy of acclaim and praise.
St Jimmy is a character strolling towards the fire. His palms are sweaty and cut to fuck, his mind is playing tricks on him. Over the course of his day, he tries to dazzle himself with drugs and alcohol. But, he’s left fighting the demons that parade his intelligent, fragile brain.
Jesus Of Suburbia is a thriller and is an emotional rollercoaster. Armstrong wrote this blockbuster, and with those volatile riffs aiding its progression, turned it into a masterstroke many can relate to. The artistry is brilliant, but it’s the story which makes it a centrepiece.
I posted this in the album thread a while ago but since I bothered to write 4,500 words about it, I decided to immortalise it here. My intepretations of every song on The Longshot's Love is for Losers, with doodles to go with them. These are all based on my own feelings and aren't necessarily correct.
The Last Time
The narrator has upset his lover, they’re giving him the silent treatment, he doesn’t really understand why or if there’s even a valid reason, but he’s promising it’ll be the last time in desperation to keep them. It’s like a prequel to the following songs about lost love.
Summary: a metaphor for jumping in a taxi to anywhere but here to escape misery. It’s frantic like actually trying to get an urgent taxi in New York City during rush hour.
“I got a suitcase in my hand, don’t even know just where I am, so take me to my destination” - the narrator is carrying his emotional baggage, unsure where he even is in his mind and asking the metaphorical taxi driver to take him to a destination he doesn’t even know. It’s like literally running away with just a suitcase in his hand, not even knowing where he is in desperation to escape. “Don’t want a ride, I need a lift, so drop me to the late night shift, somewhere out of your jurisdiction” - he doesn’t want a ride, he just needs a lift to anywhere but here. “Late night shift” could refer to the musings and anxiety of sleepless nights.
“Are we alone or are we all we’ve ever known? Taxi driver, I’m rolling like a stone” - he’s posing questions about life that a taxi driver could never answer, because in this moment, the taxi driver is everything as he takes him away from his misery. His thoughts are rolling like a stone and he feels like he’s triumphantly rolling as he gets away.
“So take me down the motorway, the highway to another day, I’ll take the side street out of vision” - he’s metaphorically out of town, on the highway to another day with the taxi driver he’s expecting way too much of, taking the side street out of vision from the misery he’s escaping. This may be reading way too much into simple word choices, but I like it - “motorway” is British English, “highway” is American English and the contrast feels representative of confusion and how far he’ll go with this metaphorical taxi driver just to get away.
“Give me a sign, give me a home,” asking the taxi driver, currently representative of fate to him, to give him a sign if what he’s feeling is right and a home at the end of his journey; “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” - damned if he stays and accepts his misery, damned if he doesn’t because “oh taxi driver, what’s the mission?” - he doesn’t even know what he’s doing.
“I wanna get around, I wanna get a new ride, I gotta get along so when the hope comes I’m all go!” - he wants to be ready in case he suddenly finds the answer to all these questions he’s asking about life, and in case hope for his situation to improve suddenly presents itself. That could be in the form of hope for his relationship working out, rediscovering love he’s lost, or just for feeling better about life in general.
Chasing a Ghost
Summary: chasing the ghost of a lost love.
“Piss stains and cigarettes, this party’s getting dull, I’m looking for a bump and a wall (???) to call my home” - I’m not sure “wall” is correct but anyway, the former two lines imply the narrator is partying to take his mind off how he’s “chasing a ghost,” but without that person it’s getting dull and his feelings are getting harder to ignore.
“I’m feeling like a moron, bitter and withdrawn” - his feelings about the dying relationship are making him bitter and withdrawn, which he feels like a moron for; “standing in the shadows with all the good times gone” - he’s retreating into the dark, where he’s miserable and feels like all good times are in the past.
“I’ve got the tears oh baby, crying in my soul” - the narrator is putting on a brave face but crying inside; “hang from the chandelier from a long long time ago” - hanging from the chandelier probably refers to wild sex or fantasies they shared (which could in turn be referring to ¡Dos!), but the way it’s sung is sensitive and emotional rather than crude. It’s a “long, long time ago” but he’s still reminiscing about it. He’s “chasing a ghost” because he’s desperately chasing his memory of someone, even though they’re little more than a ghost.
“Everyone is happy and everyone is gay, feeling the spirits and twisting the night away,” refers to a party or show, one that the song’s subject is also at. They could be someone he only sees at events, which could tie into Brutal Love with “dance forever, under the lights” and the trilogy’s forbidden love themes. Perhaps he’s never even been in a relationship with them but just wonders if, as he sings in Stay the Night, they could be “the one that got away.” That would also fit with them being a “ghost” because he can’t actually have them. Or maybe it’s none of that and he just happens to be seeing them at this event. “But when the thrill is gone and I’m staring at my phone,” is a beautiful depiction of modern day longing and disappointment, when the party’s over and he tells the subject “thanks for the company but I’m still standing alone,” because even though the short time they spent together was thrilling, they’re still not together. Instead, he’s aimlessly staring at his phone, as we all have at some point. The party could be a metaphor for how exciting and thrilling the subject’s company is. Lots of interpretations there!
“And it ain’t the same, ain’t it a shame?” - whatever he shares with the subject is no longer the same and he’s lamenting that in both this line and the following “here’s to the painkillers, oh yeah, on a Saturday night.” Saturday nights are associated with fun, partying and letting go for a night, but instead, the narrator is alone taking metaphorical painkillers to numb the pain of his lost love.
“So if you see her tell her that I said hello” - he’s given up hope that he’ll even see her again to say hello, but feels no animosity towards her; “I miss the times we spent and now I gotta go” - whatever they shared, he misses it but now he has to move on, whether because their love was forbidden or just didn’t work out; “she was my last hurrah and always got me stoned” - she was his last thrill, his last love and he enjoyed his time with her so much it was like drugs that left him stoned; “thanks for the sympathy and the punch in the nose” - thanking her, whoever is listening, for the sympathy and sarcastically “thanking” her, or the circumstances that prevent their love, for the “punch in the nose” as a metaphor for heartbreak.
The “ghost” could be a real person who’s become a “ghost” since he’ll never see them again - and in that case, most likely the same one the trilogy is about. It could also be the “imaginary girlfriends” Billie’s mentioned and refers to in Razor Baby, hence why they’re a “ghost.” Some people interpret this entire song as being about drugs and the human subject just a metaphor for that. Whilst I do think it refers to addiction (since an addict wrote it so it naturally does), I think that’s used as a metaphor for the relationship rather than the other way around. This is such a heartbreaking song.
Summary: feeling like his relationship leaves him dead in a body bag.
“She knits me a pastel purple sweater” - she does sweet things for me; “I’m staring blank into the sky” - maybe he’s left staring blank into the sky as he revels in those sweet things, or perhaps he’s doing so because he has to look away, knowing those sweet things won’t last, either because of his own mistakes or hers; “she reads me like a scarlet letter” - she sees through me and won’t take my shit; “she holds my heart and hopes to die” - like “cross my heart and hope to die,” she holds my heart, keeping me in love with her, while holding me to account if I hurt her and even sometimes when I don’t.
“Sometimes it ain’t so bad, like a soul lies on the slab” - sometimes it doesn’t hurt so much, though that seems sarcastic, because even when it’s not so bad it’s still as if his soul has been thrown down on a slab; “this is my life in a body bag” - this is how he lives his life, feeling dead and abandoned in a body bag.
“She’s got a diary of madness” - perhaps referring to his lover’s own issues, or if considered from a forbidden love angle, a diary she keeps of their love that feels like madness because they can’t truly have it; “she is a murder mystery” - referring back to how her love makes him feel like a dead man, but also how he doesn’t really understand her and romanticises her as a mystery; “she dumped me in a brand new address, with a brand new sweater made for me” - she sugarcoats her ruthlessness with sweet gestures.
If I linked this to another song, I’d pick Wild One. He’s almost afraid of the subject of Wild One, because she’s “manic,” ruthless and he’s put her on a pedestal as someone ethereal, but he can’t help but give in to her anyway; Body Bag feels like a more tired, toned down portrayal of the same subject
Love is for Losers
Summary: sarcastically dismissing love as being for losers because he’s been left longing for a love he’s lost.
“I’m riding shotgun in a car that’s broken down” - the narrator is being dragged through a love that’s broken down; “nowhere to run and this city’s like a ghost town” - there’s nowhere to run to avoid facing his feelings and the truth. He feels so alone as his lover has deserted him that the entire city feels like a ghost town. “And I’m feeling like a stranger, and I’m standing in the dark” - he feels like a stranger to his lover and himself in the face of losing her. He’s standing alone in the dark, as he’s “standing in the shadows with all the good times gone” in Chasing a Ghost, where it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
“Hey kid, love is for losers now, alright. Stupid kid, you’re a loser now, alright” - he’s sarcastically - because he doesn’t really mean it since he’s still pathetically in love - telling himself and his lover that love is for losers, calling them stupid for falling for it, to make himself feel better. He refers to himself and her as kids because that’s how vulnerable he feels.
“My heart’s a has-been for my long lost valentine” - his lover is long gone now, but his heart is a has-been, stuck in the past as he’s longing for her and “chasing a ghost.” Then, he laments that “I searched the winter for the bride of Frankenstein.” He searched and fought desperately for someone that could never exist as his bride. When Frankenstein’s monster asked for a bride so he wouldn’t be so alone, Dr. Frankenstein initially agreed to create one. However, he abandoned it out of fear they might produce more monsters. The monster remained alone. His bride couldn’t exist. She was never more than an unattainable dream, as the narrator is searching for someone who couldn’t be more than that. This is one of my favourite lines Billie has ever written. I got it tattooed on my arm right before the Vancouver show and it’s a bit faded because dancing on the front row with a fresh tattoo is a Bad Idea, but that makes me love it more.
In See You Tonight on ¡Dos!, the narrator says “the colder it gets you won’t see me anymore.” Then in Love is for Losers, he’s desperately searching that winter, where he once said she wouldn’t see him anymore, for someone he’ll never find. “But we all got our delusions” - but we all have that one dream, like my bride of Frankenstein, that we cling onto and delude ourselves might be real. “Say goodbye to an old flame” - but now I have to move on.
“It goes to show ya, when they say that love is pain” - taking a cliche that turned out to be true for him to describe his feelings; “only the lonesome, got nowhere to run but the tears to go…” - inviting all the lonesome to lament with him and accept they have nowhere to run but to face the heartbreak.
Summary: turning someone, whether himself or another, who’s unknown and/or doesn’t fit the image of a “hero” into a “cult hero.”
“I am the patron of a story never told” - the narrator is nobody, but only because his story will never be told; “I am the longest shot in town” - a great line because it refers back to the band’s name and how he feels everything about him is a long shot; “I ride the darkest horses in the rodeo” - unlike your regular hero, I walk a darker path; "I am the unsung of the clowns“ - I’m the unheard representative of fools.
”I am hyena at the dog and pony show" - I’m an outcast; ”I’m the last of the lesser knowns, ‘cause I wanna be a cult hero“ - in a sense, he’s making fun of himself by sarcastically exaggerating his own importance as the last person to be lesser known, which isn’t something most people would be proud of; but he wants to be a cult hero.
”I got my darkest secrets and whispers at the moon, where all the stars never align" - acknowledging that he has dark secrets, which most "heroes” don’t, that only the moon and unaligned stars will ever hear because he’s a “lesser known”; “well, I can self destruct on any given note, my ruin is my storyline” - he has issues, he’s imperfect, but that in itself is his storyline. It’s what makes him a cult hero.
When Billie posted clips of Cult Hero, he included a photo of his dad, who was on the teamsters and always fighting for the right thing. That could be considered heroic. But obviously, no one outside of his family, friends and fans even knows who his father is; and even if they did, he’s not the kind of person who’s generally celebrated as a hero. So I interpret this song as making a cult hero of someone like his father who’d never achieve mainstream hero status and putting that on a pedestal.
Kill Your Friends
Summary: using killing your friends as a violent metaphor to mock, and as a contrast to, the meaningless and surface level kindness that’s rife in society today. The narrator is letting go and doing whatever he wants, because everything is going to shit anyway.
“Heaven’s making rent, there’s a vacancy for me and all my friends” - heaven (notably not hell) has room for the narrator and his fairweather friends who’ll metaphorically die; “the end of days are on the way” - he feels a metaphorical apocalypse is coming, so it doesn’t matter what he does; “who needs eulogies? When you got your loved ones and everyone’s depressed” - mocking the concept of performative loved ones and gratitude for them when in reality everyone’s depressed, by saying you don’t even need eulogies when you have something so falsely perfect; “party in the morgue tonight, everything’s gonna be alright” - what happens matters so little they they’ll practically still be alive when they’re dead.
“And we’ll be singing kill your friends and we better get it, and we’ll show up missing” - we’ll be singing something crass and gory, but who cares? It means little to him because the friends he’s singing about aren’t really his friends. “Show up missing” is some fun wordplay.
“Deadbeats on parade, gonna bite the bullet and jump on the grenade” - calling these people displaying false kindness deadbeats. He’s going to say what he wants instead of holding back, even though that might be like jumping on a grenade. “Fuck the world, it’s judgment day!” - again, he’s going to do what he wants, because it feels like judgment day is coming anyway; “we got thoughts and prayers” - mocking another societal concept of “thoughts and prayers” which don’t really help anyone, so he sings “nothing comes to mind and I don’t even care.” Instead, “I’m gonna take it to the mausoleum” - similar to “waking up the dead and everything will be alright in Angel Blue” - “and we’re not going 'til you’re screaming…” because he will be heard, he won’t be brushed off with thoughts and prayers and he’s not afraid to use violent imagery to get that across.
“One finger on the trigger and lying on the stereo” - he’s got one finger on a metaphorical trigger while he lies on the stereo (mass publicity) that everything is fine; “I think you’re killing me with kindness” - he’s sick of pity parties that mean nothing; “gunslinger, dead ringer and Michelangelo” - he wants to feel like he’s dangerous; “I’m in stitches blowing kisses and a death wish” - he’s laughing as he does something morbid and offensive because he doesn’t care anymore and in reality, what he’s mocking is equally offensive. The song as a whole could reflect his reckless feelings as he loses his lover.
Summary: ironically singing about happiness to communicate the opposite.
“Where is my sanctuary town? My love is reaching for a higher ground” - the narrator is asking where he can find this mythical sanctuary of happiness he’s never known, trying and failing to reach a higher ground where love doesn’t hurt; “I’m in the church of broken hearts, these congregations for the after dark” - he’s wallowing in heartbreak like it’s a religion, shared with people who spiritually congregate on sleepness nights, in the dark where they’ll never be seen.
“How lonely is your lonely? How lonely is your restlessness?” - do you feel as lonely as I do? “See when the war is over, some day when hell freezes over, how unhappy is your happiness?” - it’s a rhetorical question, because he knows hell will freeze over before he gets an answer and feels less alone.
“Up on the lonely avenue, my ride is running late or I’m too soon” - using the metaphor of a ride again to describe how nothing goes right for him; “my wheels are spinning in a ditch” - he can’t escape his loneliness; “that sinking feeling on a floating bridge” - comparing that to feeling like standing on a bridge that’s bound to sink and drown you.
“Lonely nights and too dumb to cry, as the songs are down” - lamenting how lonely he is, awake at night writing songs about his lost love and misery, unable to cry and feeling dumb as a result; “safety pins and purge all my sins, seasons of my murder” - again, I’m not actually sure what that last word is (release the lyrics Billie), but regardless that line is probably still, to me, about unhappiness escalating to the point where you think about death.
Summary: surrendering your soul to someone in love and feeling an almost spiritual connection with them, even when they’re gone.
“Sweet soul surrender” - the narrator describes his love with the subject as baring their souls to each other in devotion, even if that is “sweet old suicide.” It feels almost like a spiritual connection of their souls. “She’s my sole/soul defender,” because despite the faults the relationship had and her absence now, she’s still the only person who’ll defend him. If it’s “soul,” not “sole” defender, he could feel her presence literally defends his soul from negativity. He tells her “don’t be so uptight” because there’s no need to be when they were this close. He could also be telling other people not to be so uptight about their relationship because she’s his “soul surrender.”
“Just me and my imagination, I swear I think I saw a ghost” - this line tells us he’s actually alone. Seeing a “ghost” refers back to Chasing a Ghost. He’s longing for her so much, and he still feels so connected to her that he’s seeing her like a ghost who isn’t there, but almost wants to believe that image is real. “Oh, lead me out of my temptation, I got a case of letting go” - he’s asking a higher power, or her as if she’s that higher power herself, to stop him spiralling back into his worst throes of longing or trying to find her again.
“Send me a message through the window, something that I have never known” - in wanting to know if she still thinks about him, or if that ghost could metaphorically be real like a manifestation of their reciprocal longing, he asks her to send him a message through the window. The window is like a divide between them, because she can’t or won’t tell him in person, going back to the forbidden love theme. He wants something he’s never known, because he wants to know how that feels for once in his life and because it would identify that message as being from her. “I think I need a long vacation, to keep me clean and blow my nose” - he needs a vacation, where he can cry and forget, to escape this longing and avoid giving in to it, or relapsing in distress.
Some people interpret this song as being about rehab because of the “keep me clean” line. That’s an interesting angle too. For me though, “soul surrender” is the furthest you can go in your love for someone, and experiencing something like that leaves a mark so deep you might still see the person’s ghost after they’re gone.
Turn Me Loose
Summary: trying to be triumphant in the face of a relationship ending.
“Don’t let your ponytail get out of line, I got a feeling on my mind,” stop and pay attention to me, because I have something to say; “I’m on the spectrum and the borderline, I got the shakes but I’m alright,” I’m dealing with my own issues but I’m alright, insisting he’s fine despite how his lover made him feel, when in reality he knows he isn’t.
“Turn me loose,” let me go, “I’m only gonna stagger” - I’ll “stagger” but won’t fall, it won’t hurt too much; “April Fool’s and I’m not a runner,” I’m already a fool anyway, so whatever; just “don’t call me a loser with dumb tattoos” and hurt me, but “it doesn’t matter,” pretending he doesn’t care, which is sarcastic because he’s just admitted he does.
“I’ll go down swinging for the final line,” I’ll fight for myself until the end; “I’m not the rebel for my bride,” I’m a rebel for myself and not for you; “just for the record and the afterlife, I’ll take a beating not a dive,” I’ll take a beating but I won’t be knocked down, also linking back to Fell For You - “steal a kiss and I took a dive” - saying this time, I won’t take a dive for you.
Because it’s all bluster and he is hurting really, he sings “I’m gonna make a racket, I’m gonna start a riot, I’m gonna make you crash and burn,” saying he’s going to be immature and break the person’s heart in return.
Goodbye to Romance
So this is an Ozzy Osbourne cover and Billie didn’t write it, so it could be argued it means nothing. To me it’s there for a reason though. It’s like hope for the unattainable love he’s been singing about for the whole album - “we’ll meet in the end” and “it won’t be me this time around to love in vain” - while empowering himself by saying “goodbye to friends and to romance” at the same time. It was also played by Green Day at the first trilogy show at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, so this is a nice way of that whole concept coming full circle.
Finally, some takes on a few of the b-sides, which I’m sure weren’t meant to be analysed but let’s go with it:
The narrator uses the concept of a fever blister and being contagious as a metaphor for how repulsive he considers himself, his self-hatred and how he feels he’s so awful people should avoid him.
I can’t even discern all the lyrics to this so it’s a bit of a shot in the dark (or long shot?). I get the impression it’s from the perspective of a female character like Gloria (“of love and razor blades”) that’s loosely based on Billie, using her self-harm (“razor baby” / “she covers up all through the summer”) to empower her instead of put her down. Also refers to her having “imaginary girlfriends, someone that she can share her pain,” tying into the “ghost” theme.
I've Got My Problems
A simple and cynical love song. The narrator plays down his desire for romance - he just wants someone rousing (“I wanna be a girl like you”) to hang around with. Finding that feels like a temporary “solution” to his problems, while he’s “hitting bottom” but “she’s alright.” He feels more strongly about her than he’s letting on, since he doesn’t “wanna fuck around with nobody else” and will “take one on the chin for you.” Whilst Baby Blue is a song written for These Paper Bullets, in this case I think “like voodoo dolls and baby blue” refers back to Angel Blue, someone who’ll “cut my chest just to see the blood.”
Summary: a new romance is compared to the devil because it’s typically “sinful.”
“Beer stains and cigarettes, the party is in my pocket” - two interpretations here. “Party is in my pocket” could mean a party is dependant on the narrator because he’s in control. Like the phrase “in your pocket” typically means being extremely close to, or dependant on, someone. It could also, as some others interpret it, refer to cocaine (especially with the following “bump” line). If so, I think that whilst this “party” might literally involve drugs, it’s also a metaphor for how high the subject makes him feel - “she was my last hurrah and always got me stoned.”
“I’m looking for a drink and a couch to call my home / give me a bump and I will call” - drugs and alcohol could be giving the narrator the confidence to behave like “the devil’s kind” with the subject or even approach her at all. It could also be the same metaphor as the previous line, asking the subject to get him drunk and high on her.
“And whisper dirty lies, the rapture in your ear and we’ll both be terrified” - the couple are revelling in their “sin.” Being “terrified” is like a high, or sarcastic because they’re actually loving it. Or they could be doing things that do terrify them, but fired up by each other, they’re up for it. I’d link this again to Wild One and Body Bag; how he’s almost afraid of the subject because she’s ruthless and so idealised by him.
“Bloodshot eyes and you’re peppermint” - their eyes are bloodshot because they’re up all night and partying (whether metaphorically or literally), but like peppermint is associated with lowered heart rate and blood pressure, the subject is like a cure for the narrator. Like taking ecstasy so you don’t have to sleep. “We can roll like dogs from the devil” - they should be afraid of the devil, but instead in their sin they’ll come close to him, only to roll like dogs without a care away.
“Give me one last try for your love tonight” - this isn’t their first encounter and the narrator doesn’t want it to last just one more night as fun, he actually wants her love. Reminds me yet again of Wild One and the note in the lyric book, “let’s fall in love (just for an hour)” when really, he wants more than just an hour’s love.
“I’ll be the king forever and you can be my sunshine” - to use a cliche, he’ll be king of the subject’s heart forever. Again, he wants her forever, not just now and he wants to leave a mark on her. In return, she’ll be like his sunshine in the dark. Her being like a “cure” or “defender” is a recurring theme. “We are the devil’s kind” - they’re the devil’s kind of people because they’re sinful. I think a lot of the implications of sin are subtle references to sex. “And now I won’t back down, I said I won’t back down” - he won’t give up on trying to win the subject’s love, like in Stop When the Red Lights Flash, he insists "I'll make you surrender."
“Take me into the water” - could refer to holy water or water as cleansing for his demons or sins, or alternatively her metaphorically drowning him; “and pull me from the slaughter” - the defender theme coming up again, like she’s the only one who can pull him from negativity; “because I’ve got the shakes and I’m so petrified” - this time only he’s petrified. The way it’s sung is confident and assertive, but admitting this to her as if she’s his comfort is quite vulnerable. Could be linked to “I’ve got the shakes but I’m alright” in Turn Me Loose, which is a bit of a heartbreaking comparison because at that point the relationship is over, but he’s trying to insist he’ll be alright anyway.
For the drawing, I used the “sunshine” theme and link to “dance forever, under the lights.” The girl is loosely based on how I imagine the character in Wow! That’s Loud and the guy on the young Perry Miller performing Devil’s Kind in Ordinary World.
So I might be reading way too much into some of this, but as some of my favourite songs Billie has written, they deserve it. These are of course my own personal interpretations based on my own feelings and I could be completely wrong about them all. I also don’t mean to imply anything about Billie personally or his private life. I have no idea who or what he’s singing about and knowing wouldn’t change any of my intepretations. Because hey, some people find analysing art fun… and I have a photography degree so finding meaning in things no one else cares about is what I do for a living.
Feel free to comment with your own interpretations! And if lyric analysis interests you, check out our extended discussion in the album thread.
Kinda wish we still had the other subforums up so I could make a topic, but check it out yall- I finally got a band up and running.
We went into the studio 3 weeks back to record our first track (with this lineup, these guys have been going on and off for 2 years) and now its available for streaming. We did our first gig two weeks back, and have another coming up this weekend. Its been a hell of a ride. Gonna use this blog to keep yall updated on whats going on if anyones interested. Plus i think it'd be fun to have a journal of sorts if we end up taking this somewhere. Ill leave links below for our accounts for anyone thats interested in checking us out. Lots more to come hopefully.
And since its the Green Day Community, heres our cover of Brain Stew. Really fun song, I think you guys will enjoy the added solo. Drew shreds.
So yeah, lookin forward to keeping you guys updated on whats going on. Cheers.
Not allowed to make the music that I would
my thoughts are truly reckless
and very misunderstood
so now it is only poetry that I play
with in the backyard of my mind each and every day
I am not too courageous yet my name , that's what it means
I am not a warrior and I am not allowed to scream
I am in a prison of emotion and psychotherapy
Debating on to watch it end all inside of me.
I talked to many people about what is going on
and if I did die it would raise too many questions about myself
to run away will not make the troubles go away
so act as if... you crazy b****…. you are a robot now
made of flesh... but do your best.... not to care anyhow.
My opinions do not matter.
Only whether or not I have done my chores matters.
My existence is to serve, not to think and not to speak unless temporarily allowed to do so.
I am not allowed to set personal boundaries without some kind of punishment being distributed toward me.
Punishment has no rhyme nor reason other than the will of my 'superior' who works 12 hours a day minimum for 3 days a week minimum because I have no job skills and cannot hold a job.
I do not deserve respect because I do not bring in an income to prevent myself from being a financial sinkhole and I eat too much even when I am not eating.
I am using too many towels when using only 1 towel to dry myself IF I do take a shower according to my 'superiors' sister.
Standing up for or even attempting conversation with another person in the house results in verbal negativity and mental punishment of myself.
I am not permitted to leave because I am the center of the mess of gears that is holding the gears together and keeping them from flying in all different directions only because I am not a big fan (see rule number 1) of alcoholic drinks.
Hello everyone! Welcome back to Nico Talks About Creepypastas. After seven and a half months. Yay. Anyway, that quote up there is an excerpt from a local newspaper (location unknown). TL;DR: it's about a boy that almost got killed by someone, or something. This story is one of the most famous creepypastas out there, and it's called Jeff the Killer.
You might be thinking, "One of the most famous creepypastas of all time is just a boring newspaper excerpt? What the fuck man?" But that's just the beginning, a prologue. The real story begins now... if you want to read it for yourself, the link is at the bottom of the post.
Day 1 - Moving Into a New Neighborhood
The story is mainly about a teenager called Jeff and his family. Jeff, his brother Liu and his parents Margaret and Peter had just moved into a new fancy neighborhood. Their neighbor Barbara comes in and introduces herself and her son Billy. And all of a sudden Jeff's family were invited to Billy's birthday party. Well that was fast. Jeff however didn't want to go, saying that he's "not a dumb kid." In the end, he was still forced to go there though. He went to his room, when he got a weird feeling. He just brushed it off as some random feeling.
Day 2 - Gangster Skaters
On the next day, Jeff and Liu were ready to go to school, but not before Jeff got that feeling again during breakfast, stronger this time. Once again he just brushed it off. They went to the bus stop, when these three kids Keith (skinny, dopey face), Troy (the "fat kid") and Randy (the leader of their little gang) barely jumped over them with their skateboards. Probably thought they were the shit. One thing led to another and all of a sudden one of the skaters pulled a knife out and took Liu's wallet. Jeff got the feeling again, but it was WAY stronger this time, it was so strong he got up and, out of anger, broke Randy's wrist, threw him to the ground and stabbed Keith in the arm with the knife the skaters had. He also punched Troy in the stomach, and that was enough for him. That escalated quickly. Only problem: the bus was coming. So Jeff and Liu ran away as quickly as they could and just went to school, not telling anyone what had happened. When school was over and he got home, Jeff told his mother in a "somewhat ominous" voice that it was a wonderful day.
Day 3 - Taking the Blame for Jeff
On the next morning, two cops knocked on the door. You guys probably know why. Jeff said that it was him and that Liu tried to stop him. I mean, that's what happened. But then Liu chimed in and took the blame for him, and while Jeff tried to convince the officers that he beat the skaters up, they took Liu away. Jeff wept in the driveway for the next hour, meanwhile his dad pulled in and asked if he was okay. He couldn't answer because his vocal cords were strained from crying so much. He was emotionally scarred that day. The next two days, nothing happened, so we're going to skip straight to day 6.
Day 6 - Billy's Birthday Party
Now, this is where shit goes down, I'm telling ya.
Jeff actually forgot about the birthday party, and still didn't want to go. He put on a white hoodie and some jeans and went there with his parents, who were dressed much fancier. His mother was in a dress, his father in a suit. They got to their neighbor's house, and Jeff was told the kids were out in the yard. A little kid came up to him with a toy gun and a hat and wanted him to play with the others. He reluctantly agreed, and for some reason actually had a little fun. Until he heard Randy, Keith, and Troy on their skateboards...
Randy told Jeff they had some "unfinished business." That can't end well.
Randy and Jeff both fall to the ground after Randy rushes at him, Randy punches Jeff in the nose. Jeff headbutts Randy. They both stand up. Troy and Keith pull guns out. Randy stabs Jeff's shoulder. Randy kicks Jeff in the face. Jeff twists Randy's foot. Troy throws Jeff through the patio door. Randy repeatedly kicks Jeff until he's coughing up blood. Randy throws Jeff into the kitchen. Jeff stands up, blood and vodka on his face. He gets that feeling again, which this time causes him to snap. HE'S LOST HIS MIND. Jeff piledrives Randy to the ground. Jeff punches Randy into the heart. randy dies. Jeff gets guns pointed at him from Keith and Troy. They run into the bathroom. Jeff bangs the towel rack into Troy's face after Troy missed with the knife. troy dies. Keith throws Jeff into the wall. An open bleach bottle falls down on them (okay seriously, what the fuck why would you have that bleach bottle open). Jeff rams the towel rack into Keith.
I'm gonna stop the summary right here, even though the fight isn't over. Because now something happens that I want to summarize in detail. So, Jeff's body is full of bleach and vodka, and Keith is bleeding to death. In his final minutes, Keith pulls out a lighter and laughs. Think about that; Jeff has bleach and alcohol all over him, and Keith has a lighter in his hand. What happens next? HE THROWS THE LIGHTER AT HIM. The vodka burned him, the bleach bleached his skin (who would've thought?). He passed out...
In the Hospital
I don't know how many days later this is, so I'm leaving the day number out. Jeff woke up in the hospital, a cast wrapped around his face, stitches on his shoulder and a tube in his arm. He tried to get out, but of course that wasn't yet possible. His parents were there... and also Liu. Because after the witnesses told the police how Randy attacked Jeff, they decided to let Liu go. Not much later, the doctor removed the cast from his face. His face looked HORRIFYING. I'm not gonna show it to you just yet, just wait until the end. Anyway, he went to the bathroom to look at it in the mirror. Despite everyone's thoughts, he said it didn't look that bad. Actually he said it was perfect. Quote: "I’ve never felt more happy! Ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa, look at me. This face goes perfectly with me!" Well... according to the doctor, behavior like this is perfectly normal for patients that took a lot of pain killers. I guess that's fine, we'll just take him home then. It's all good... or is it?!
t̜h̰̹̮̭̀̀ͅè̼̺̰͓̩̺ ҉̰̻̜̕f̴͔̻͉̟̘i̫̱̻n̶̮͕͍̮̖̰͖͓̪͞a̦̝̠̬̳͘l̷̡̬̗̠̬͖͔̣ ̧̣̩̤͎̀n͏̱͉̰̥̝̬͖̻͞i̜̩g̷͇̬̗̼̝͍̰͜h̴̢͖̼̙t̢͏̺̹͕̬̦͚͕̹͉
In that same night, Jeff went into the bathroom to put some "finishing touches" onto his face. Just normal things, like carving a smile into his face so that he could smile forever, and burning out his eyelids so that his eyes would never close. Seriously, who hasn't done that before? His mother backed off, realizing Jeff's gone insane.
well... there's only one way to answer this. "Yes son, you're beautiful. L-let me go get Daddy so he can see your new face!" She instantly woke her husband up, saying that he should get the gun. Apparently to get rid of him or something. However, they didn't notice. They did not notice that Jeff was listening.
M̥͔̖͕̲̱̪̮̝̖̝̝͔̲ͧͭ͊̄ͮ͊̃̾̌ͮ͋ͭͥ́̕͟͡͡ͅȏ̦̝̹̼̫̩ͧ̎̍̽̄̀ͥ̑͐́͐̅̓́͟m̸̢̡̢͎̟͙͒̂̉́͝m̶ͫ̔ͣ͌ͪ̃̈́ͩ҉͘͞҉̺͕̟̫̗͖̥y̵̶̢͍͖̝͓̣͉̦̩̰̠̯͉̭͍̜̣̰̖̔͊̔͐̌ͨͦ̉̍ͩ͗̓̊̌̈́ͬ.̵̵̨̟̗̭̭̭͉͍̫̹͔̖̯̜̥͍͙̱̽͋͐̐̆̐͌͌͂̒͗̌͊̅͜.̶̭̙̬̳̽̉̏ͮ̕͠.̼̬͉͙̖̥̉̈́̉͌̊̕̕ ̵̟̯͉̬̮͚̞͇͚͈͙͇̈̑̏ͨ̅̐̇͌̆ͫ̎́̌ͥ́̇̚͢͝y̸̵͈͉̼̺̗̠͕̭̰̮͓̘̠͍͙͎̙̾̀̉ͯ̐̉ͨ̓͝ͅo̶̢̫̟̬̩̫̯͖͙͎̰̦̺͚̤̥̩͓̳͎ͣ̽ͭͯͤͤ̑ũ̧̡͖̠͎͚̦̜͆̌ͭ̿̐ͪ̊ͪ̊͝͡ͅ ̵̧̢̲̠͓͉͔͍̼̩̣̻̥̪͍͕͔̈́̅͒͒͂̓͆͆͗̿̃ͨ͛͡l̡̒ͤ͗̓̔̊̓ͩ́̀͢҉̼͙̭̺̥͚̪͓͎̠̙̬̦̘̫͍̜̫̯i̛̜̩̹̪͔̝̻̦̙̼̠̮̐͂̎̀́̚̚ȅ̶͔͚͔͔̗̥͖̳̣͎̼̣͍͚̼͛̏̍͂̔́̀̉̋̂ͮͫͧ͜͡d̂̐ͭ̏ͧ͛̚҉̛̘̖̯̼̰̫̜̝̥̩̘̹̞̯͎̭͞͝ͅ.̭̼̭̜̲̝̼́̃̑́͊ͣ͌ͨ̏̒̄̔ͪ̋̀́.ͧͥ̀ͧ̀͏͜͏̛̞̥̻͎͔͖.̃̋ͫ̉̍̃̎͛̈͒̉̑̒͆̓҉̨̼̟̦̝̞̣ͅ
Right afterwards they were both stabbed by him. Liu woke up because he heard it, but he didn't know what it was, so he just went back to sleep. Right before he was able to, he got a feeling. Like somebody, or something was watching him. He looked up, saw Jeff ready to stab him as well. He tried to fight against it, until Jeff spoke the final four words.
Original Creepypasta: https://www.creepypasta.com/jeff-the-killer/
Next up: probably "The Russian Sleep Experiment"
Haven't written songs much before, and when i did they were awful so uh...this is my first attempt at a song in ageeessss. Im sure its not very good, but i tried :x
I try to think of why i stay
But nothing seems to come to mind
I think i'd lose my mind
If I still had one to lose
Can you help me find a reason?
I'm in a state of mind that will
Most likely kill me in the end
I am like a rundown car
In an alley with a dead end
Can you help me find a reason?
I am trapped with no way out
Like a rat in a trap maze
I am stuck in a world of grey
Can you help me out of this haze
You fixed the game and stacked the deck
There's just no way I could win
You pushed me in now i'm in too deep
I'm hanging on the razor's edge
I think i'm going blind
To the reason i stay inside
This cage called you
Can you help me find the key
Or at least some better company
You laugh and smile my way
I can't say that I do the same
My heart is bored its overboard
In the sea you call a love life
Can you help me find a way
Or at least a reason to stay
I am trapped with no way out
Like a rat in a trap maze
I am stuck in a world of grey
Can you help me out of this haze
You fixed the game and stacked the deck
There's just no way I could win
You pushed me in now i'm in too deep
I'm hanging on the razor's edge
I don't know how many or if any of you remember me, because I haven't posted for way too long. I want to give more than one update, though. Mainly not for the sake of giving an update, but because I know how some of you feel and it might give some of you some hope.
I know that when I first came here, I was severely depressed. At school I was the outsider, at hockey I got bullied so much it ended with a broken collar bone. It destroyed me so much because I thought my hockey career would have ended as well.
Now, I'm out of school, I study and I'm happy with that. I went through therapy and it helped a lot.
The main change, though, was the birth of my sweet daughter. Really, when I first looked into her eyes (she was born with her eyes open) I realized what true love is! From that moment on I knew I didn't need any hockey career to prove myself, I don't need a hockey career to be worth it, I don't need it to have success or be a good person. I had more than I ever wanted.
Four months later I got an offer, though. "You've trained here a few years ago. Do you have interest in playing in our team the next season?"
Well, I have a baby. I'm alone with my baby. Okay, not completely alone, but would my parents really take so much of their time to help me out there? I told them of the offer. I was scared, nervous and already sad because I thought my answer would have to be a "no, sadly I can't".
"I have no idea how we'll do it, but we'll find a solution, so say yes to them". And that's what we did. We found a solution. I played that season and for the first time in yeeaaars I had fun playing. For the first time ever I really felt like I was part of the team and for the first time in years I was really nervous when I played. I didn't want to make mistakes. We're talking about women's first league in ice hockey in Germany (DFEL if anyone wants to google it). But I got better. I'm not one of the best players in the team, but I think I'll get better and better. I'll give my best. I'll be there next season as well, I hope!
What do I want to tell you with that?
Easy: believe in your dreams no matter how desperate it looks like and no matter what anyone tells you! I was 22 and didn't play for a whole season. Still I got to the place where I want to be! Most people told me I'm talentless. My self-esteem was at point zero and I never believed I would even get out of my depression.
Also I was scared I could never care for myself and would do bad at parenting. I know, I can't prove I'm good at it, but my daughter gives me so much love and laughs so much, I just believe her ;D
Nothing is impossible!
I've been insecure before, nothing new. Usually my insecurity is my place in other people's lives rather than something physical/my appearance. I worry about annoying others, pushing them away, or being too clingy. Especially when it comes to my romantic relationships - I've been trying to work past it for years. So something happened recently and I need some advice about whether I'm A) being stupid/insecure and need to knock this shit off, or if B) I'm right in feeling insecure. Back story to this situation (for just the situation skip to the green) :
So my fiance was the manager for a (different than me) pizza place. Because of recent general management changes and decisions, Kenny has decided to leave to manage a restaurant for the company I work for (more money, less stress, less strict). Anyways, there's this girl who worked for him and she's about 16-years-old (Kenny is 21 turning 22 this year). She has a boyfriend but she's always talking to Kenny at work, texting him (work related, but things she obviously already knows) and calling him (work related, stupid shit). Well I've told Kenny I don't trust this girl, I think she likes him, and I think he needs to be more wary of her. She has a boyfriend but to me that doesn't deter people.
Here's the issue, back story over:
We went to his goodbye party for the crew to say goodbye to him, and she showed up in a skimpy skirt and kept staring at him and talking to him. When I caught her looking at him, she'd look away and look upset. I confronted Kenny about it and he laughed, assuring me he's mine. But, he also said "I just don't think she likes me, I don't think she's that kind of person". To me it felt like he was standing up for her instead of for me. Then I read the note she wrote him, which was a huge card in tiny writing. She said that his management was "better than anything she could have ever asked for". And she said that she couldn't even "begin to express how thankful" she was for "everything" he's done for her from the day he met her. ((To reduce my bias and to make this more fair for her, I'm including a quote without her name in the quote area below))
Is it just me or is this a little too clingy and too mushy to be saying to your boss?
Should I be jealous? Is he standing up for her? Or am I just crazy? Someone please bring me back to earth.
This year, I published a book of Green Day fan stories and art. I wanted to document the band’s incredible impact on a diverse fanbase. So, I gathered stories and fanart from fans of all ages, from Greece to California to Costa Rica to China. All 161 pages are a truly wonderful testament to how Green Day have changed lives and the devotion of their fans. I knew I was going to be proud of it – and everyone in it – but quite how proud I was didn’t hit me until I opened up the box.
How it all began
I was making My Rage My Love My Life – a documentary of my own experiences following Green Day on tour – when I got the idea. I knew I was going to exhibit my photos. They'd quickly become a document of the fan community as a whole, rather than just myself. I thought a little book of other fans’ stories would be an amazing addition. I asked for submissions – at this point just for stories, not fanart – and made a short book in InDesign. Then I exhibited it. It was the most popular part of my exhibit (sadly, no one got in my survival bag).
Exhibiting My Rage My Love My Life in Cornwall
A while later, I put the book up for sale so everyone could read it. It was surprisingly popular!
We Are Revolution Radio, Volume 1
I knew at this point – shocked by quite how much the stories moved me and knowing there were even more out there – that I wanted to make a bigger, better book. This time, I asked for fanart submissions, too. It would be the final book, so it had to be good!
Looking for more stories and art was a slow process. A lot of people who weren’t too shy, or too busy to submit already had. I kept plugging the submission page, but there was little interest. I tried approaching fan artists on Instagram, but they didn’t reply, deleted my comments or blocked me. With my 9 to 5 job, I didn't have much time to continue going out of my way to get submissions. The deadline passed, but I never got around to printing. I felt very disillusioned with the Green Day fandom and its drama and hierarchies at the time, too. How much the book meant to me and what a great project it was faded from my memory.
When I pinned My Rage My Love My Life as an Instagram highlight, I included a few excerpts from the book. Unexpectedly, a lot of people messaged me saying they wished they’d been part of it, that they weren’t even aware of it until then, or that they wanted a copy. I went back to read it again. It immediately reminded me why I was doing it and how important it was to me and to document this. So I reopened submissions (feeling bad that I'd never got it done before!).
People now had months to submit. It was, again, a slow process, but this time I wasn’t letting it go until I’d got as many fans as possible into it!
Getting more submissions
I tried a few different strategies. One was offering the option to submit in Spanish, French or Portuguese, but no one did. I made fun and more ‘serious’ calls for submissions. I encouraged friends who’d previously expressed interest or I thought would like to be in the book. Half of my attempts were successful. My most successful plan was recruiting my East Bay native partner to speak with fan friends in the area and one in LA. Some were shy or struggled to write, so I ‘interviewed’ them or we just chatted about Green Day and pieced together stories. They were stories I’d never have found by only appealing to visible or ‘super’ fans – but they were some of my favourites and moved me to tears!
The biggest obstacle was definitely convincing shy or uncertain people their stories or art were absolutely worth a place in the book. I don’t know if I made a mistake giving people months to submit. Other than my partner’s unpaid internship at My Rage My Love My Life, the most submissions came in with my last minute reminders. Maybe I should have done that all along. It’s so easy to procrastinate or just forget to make time when you have forever to do something.
Deciding whether to publish an eBook
I had a long think about this. At first I was definitely going to offer a cheap eBook version to make it more accessible to everyone. A few weeks later I thought about how if I did, a free PDF would be much more likely to end up on the internet for anyone to see. Which isn’t inherently bad – I wasn’t looking to make money from it, after all. But the contributors shared personal stories under the assumption it would be a limited physical print people had to buy to see, not an easily accessible PDF. I also felt it wouldn't be fair to people who’d previously bought the physical book. So I decided against it. It’s a shame because I’d love it to be more accessible, but I don’t trust the internet with everyone’s stories.
Why not make more books?
A few people have expressed disappointment they weren’t in the book. Some felt I should make more books. Volume 2 is the final version, though. For starters, I don’t think expecting people to keep paying for extensions of the same book is fair. In total, people had almost two years to submit. I chased a lot of people who said they wanted to be part of it and approached others I thought might be interested. The majority didn’t reply or just never got around to it. Most genuinely didn’t have time and that’s a real shame. Before printing, some people had been waiting months to buy the book, so continuing to extend the deadline wouldn't have been fair to them either.
I really wanted as many people as possible to be part of this, but if people don’t submit, there’s not much I can do. The same will happen if I make another book. A few more people will submit, but most who didn’t have time last year won’t have time this year. I did make it clear when I opened submissions for Volume 2 that it would be the final book, so I don't think it's unreasonable.
This time, with the book being over three times longer at 161 pages, I had to use a professional – and pricier – printer instead of the simpler company I’d used before. In early February, I put the book up in my store for £14.99 until February 18th. After that, I’d put in a bulk order. If I only sold a few books, I’d lose a huge amount of money and end up paying to send the books out. It was a scary gamble at first, but I soon sold enough to cover everything. As February 18th approached, I finalised the file in InDesign and prepared to send it to the printer.
Despite having learned all about this at university, I was nervous. After all, studying something in a classroom and actually executing it are totally different things… and I wanted the books to be perfect for all the amazing people who’d supported and contributed to the project over the last two years. What if I messed it up somehow? I had a quick chat with the printer to make sure I was doing everything right and then I sent off the file.
A heavy box arrived with DPD on March 6th. I opened it and there were all my very own, professionally printed books! It was surreal.
Opening the book box (having excitedly taken a few out already!)
They were thicker than I expected. Even though I’d already published one book, this even better final product was somehow even more incredible. Flicking through and seeing everyone’s amazing art and stories there, in full colour and all their glory – I felt so proud! Despite having stared at my own art and story on InDesign for months on end, I was excited and a bit emotional to see that there, too. I knew then exactly why I’d done this and, regardless of inevitable drama, how special Green Day’s fandom really is.
Shipping the books
This was quite a big job, but also exciting! The first five orders got a little gift for their support. After carefully wrapping the books, I passed them to @Rumpelstiltskin2000 to be sealed in mailers. Her sellotape fortresses then went into a Primark bag, ready to be shipped the next day.
The parcels were transferred to some transport sacks (also known as my Pokémon backpack and Berkeley Bowl shopping bag) and we took them to the Post Office. I was a bit worried the Post Office lady might run away screaming. But no, she was professional and got it all done quickly. She even knew American Idiot. I left with a stash of comically long receipts.
And then it was done. My books had officially been published and dispatched. I felt like a proud parent. I sent out dispatch notifications, finished this and now I'm going to rest and play Pokémon.
I hope this might inspire or help anyone thinking of making their own book. If you need any guidance, feel free to get in touch!
I feel like this post is too long for the relationships thread so seems like a better place to chuck it in the blog.
My boyfriend/damn near fiance and I have been together for 3 years. BEST three years of my life. He treats me like a princess, he's kind to me, we hardly argue, and he's a sexy beast. All around, we are a perfect fit and I'm madly in love with him. I bug him about getting married all the time! We talk about the future, kids, all that stuff.
But... I still find myself occasionally seeing an attractive man (or woman, I swing both ways) and I think "damn he/she is hot" and then I feel incredibly guilty for it. I almost feel like I'm cheating for thinking these things. My boyfriend says it's normal, but I still beat myself up about it.
Please help... Is it normal to feel this way? Is it normal to notice attractive people and to not want anything to do with them, just noticing they are attractive?
This is the last of the lyrics for Angel In The Drone. I don't have anything else prepared after this, so this might be the last you hear from me, at least for a while. I hope you enjoyed all the shit that I wrote up until this point. Thanks for reading!
Lift your hands to the heavens like Babel
I'll be your sediment as long as I am able
The thread around my heart cleaves it in two
The red fibers stretch to the point I follow through
And while the world changes in the corners of the gallows
The bliss of the synapses while you're wading in the shallows
Whatever our connection is, believe me
God willing, nothing has moved me so positively
So I ended up going to the doctor's office to make sure all of my prescriptions are in order and basically an annual check-up, and I told him about my severe migraines I've been getting for the last 6 months or so. About 3 to 4 times a week, I get debilitating migraines that sometimes make it so I can't see, sometimes I throw up, and other times I get so dizzy I can hardly walk. So he prescribed me a brand new medication (and I mean this thing is brand spanking new out of the factory type thing, not many trials or anything on it). It is called Ajovy (fremanezumab-vrfm) and it is a preventative measurement for people with severe migraines. The good news is it has far fewer side affects than many migraine medications. The bad part? It's a once a month injectable - I have to inject myself. So I injected it for the first time today (it goes into fatty areas of the body and since I'm a bone rack I had to squish my tummy and inject it there). Now we hope that it helps - and if I do get a migraine, I have Imitrex to get rid of it. So that is one fraction of what's wrong with me medically (yay!)
**PERSONAL AND GUSHY ADVICEY POST**
Okay, so in my short 20 years of life I have had my fair share of relationships. Most of them short-lived and uneventful, as most high school relationships go. But, that doesn't mean that relationships (high school or not) don't hurt when they end.
I've kind of taught myself little things that help me when relationships go sour (even platonic or familial relationships!) so I don't completely break down or lose myself.
This Person Doesn't Owe Me Anything
A real problem with ending relationships is feeling the desperate need to have that person in your life still and feeling dictated by it. I always tell myself, if this person doesn't owe me money or something of that sort, they don't owe me anything and therefore have no purpose in being in my life. Helps me move on real quick. (got this little tip from @stephaniebrite on Instagram.)
Just Because This Person Is No Longer in My Life, It Doesn't Mean I am Unlovable
One of my biggest failings as an individual is placing my self worth and my personal definition of myself in the hands of others. When someone rejects me or pushes me aside, it can have a huge impact on my self esteem. That's when I remind myself that one person's opinion of me is not the true definition of who I am. Their disinterest in me does not make me less valuable, less special, or less loved. I think this is something crucial to remind yourself when going through a rough breakup.
All Things Happen For a Reason
Yes, this is cliche as all get out. But it is true! Whether you believe in fate or not, logic dictates all actions and decisions are made with some sort of reasoning. If a relationship ends, it simply means that you and that person are just not meant to mingle. Sometimes letting go is a good thing!
I Can Be Me Without Them
In life there will always be at least ONE relationship - romantic or otherwise - that's end will bring you to your knees and question even life itself. That is when it is crucial to surround yourself with a supportive network of people in your life - family, friends, therapists, doctors, coworkers, etc. It's also a great time to reflect on your life, before and after this person was in it. You were you at one point before them, right? Well, you're still you! This really helped me when my dad abandoned me. It helped me remind myself that being fatherless didn't mean I was helpless.
I Can Still Love Them and Not Live With Them
My mom's best friend married and divorced the same man 3 different times. I asked my mom why she kept marrying him and my mom told me this amazing tidbit of advice that has stuck with me: "Sometimes you can love someone with all your heart, but you just can't live with them." That has stuck with me. Moving on doesn't necessarily mean the love or feelings disappear, it just means you understand them and yourself better.
I hope some of this helps someone, it also helps get these things off my chest!
More lyrics. Second-to-last song concept on this project. Enjoy.
The Golden Glow Bends As The Stellar Engine Transcends
I thought that things would get easier with time
But the golden rays always seem brighter when you leave them behind
Celestial forces won't slow for someone like me
and it seems the Conduit must take us eventually
I look back on the old days and see the change
The facts in fiction enveloped the lies in my range
Take me back, let me go, show me the secrets that you know
Change again, become a friend, all the humanities I defend
Architect of chaos, we both know the way
As best as we get by on any given day
Climb the beanstalk to see god finally confess
Why I'm like this is anybody's guess
What love doesn't understand
is that love is never understood
It's just not some sycophantic command
or the blessings of underlying good
Perhaps the thoughts quiver too deeply;
there's no one I could envision before
That's just how the sand sinks quickly
with no thought to our nuclear core
So I guess I've changed within the year
Left the body in the rear-view mirror
Got some extraterrestrial rejuvintion
Still stuck in some corporate animation
Stumbling over my ambitions and lack of success
but who's to say these crystal graces have to end?
It's a torture that I really must confess
and a dark vapor over one of my most trusted friends
Architect of chaos, we both know the way
As best as we get by on any given day
Climb the beanstalk to see god finally confess
Why I'm like this is anybody's guess
The antimatter that surrounds us
Perhaps you can feel it, too?
You said that I made your life darker
but in a way that colored it less blue
I don't know if you knew when I revealed it to you
I had to do it to rid the parasites from my mind
But I still can't get over that you're one of the few
that made me feel the best of our kind
And only the cells know what deserves to be spared
and sometimes I hear the whispers of death in the air
We all want the freedom and the auroras from above
We want it, yes, but we want it partnered with love
*ANGRY RANT WARNING, SHIT'S ABOUT TO GET FUCKING REAL*
Oooooooookay. There's this hoe who works with us down at the pizza place (yes, I can call her a hoe, she tried to hit on my 16 year old cousin when she's 22 and sent him nudes but that's a different story for a different time). So this BITCH requests at least a week off each MONTH. LAST MINUTE. SO SHE CAN "SPEND TIME WITH HER BOYFRIEND" WHO SHE LIVES WITH. That already irritates the ever-loving CHRIST out of me. Not only does she do that, but she will call in sick all the fucking time.
So I'm covering her AGAIN tomorrow. Don't want to, but my mom needs someone who can roll dough and there's only 3 of us who can - hoe who called in, another guy with a second job, and me. So I'm covering. But I'm gonna talk to my mom about retraining a former roller to take hoebag's place. That way I don't have to work 60+ hours a week
PIZZA SHOULD NOT BE THIS STRESSFUL OF A BUSINESS OH MY GOD
More lyrics. Enjoy.
Let The Darkness Come
I can't do anything, I'm powerless
All I can do is sit alone and confess myself to no one
Endless echoes pass by and each one grazes my hand
Lit by the phone screen, thinking over and over until I'm done
It's always 4 AM, there's no time for love
The same design, the same skyline, the same sense of self-decline
It's something that never was for me
I've barely felt it before; I can continue on just fine
I don't aim for positivity, just stumbling around reality
Switching the little pleasures with bigger pains
I'm not lonely, not afraid, I can't hit the bullseye
It's a force from the afterglow that grounds me with its chains
Too many nights awake with sorrow singing to me
This wretched world where survival's the only goal
The light comes but the dark is where I belong
There's nothing to save, no image of god or tortured soul
But I guess it's not so bad in the end
I control the darkness despite the chaos I bend
Soon the rifts will pass over once more
and the elements find their platform on the shore
The future is not set in stone, the paths drift between
Though sometimes the haze swallows whatever they mean
As the horizon pulls on the break of day
we always seem to find another way
The grace of the morning brings the sigil of flesh and bone
A mark of solace that you aren't going through this alone
The cacophony of carnage and disease
is balanced by the charity and the prestige
Whatever happens, I'm glad I got to know you
Love strays from both of us, it seems
but at least it shines in someone to talk to
This could be in the work thread or something, but hell - the post would be annoyingly long so here it goes in the blog. *just to preface and so we get a lil back story going on here, I work at a pizza place in town with my momma, she's our manager and I'm the assistant manager*
Okay, so Sunday the owner of our franchise comes out to our tiny town and our tiny store and pulls my mom into the back party room to sit and chat. They're back there for about 20 minutes before they come out and ask me to join them.
First thought? "oh, fuck, I'm getting fired"
Soo my boss looks at my mom and is like "you tell her" and they do the "no you tell her" thing a couple times before they approach me about moving my mom to a busier store to co-manage, and promoting me in my current store. I was shocked and a little petrified but accepted the offer.
Moved my days off, and so I had the next day off (yesterday). I panicked all night, worrying and wrapping my head around it. Busted out a new schedule to bring with me, and I was mentally prepared for a new challenge.
This morning I get a phone call - everything is back to normal, I am no longer promoted. And I need to get my ass out of bed and get to work. And I also get my other two days off this week.
So not only am I royally fucked out of a promotion for no apparent reason, but I also lost 10 hours on this next paycheck, on the last day of the pay period. <<fuck my life>>
So it's been a frustrating, heartbreaking last 48 hours. I ended up working a 16 hour open to close shift today because our closer called in, and I feel as though I'm just not good enough to be manager (although I was assured it was because of the other store involved and had nothing to do with me).
So that's my world right now. Back to normal, just an assistant manager.
More lyrics. The title track, I guess. Enjoy.
Angel In The Drone
I'd cast the weight of the solitude aside
Let the shells fall and the militant isolation die
Running under the earth and inside the halls
The walls, they call for the relapses and the withdrawls
The trenches that my mind dwells in
The phosgene gas drowns the senses again
A parade for the dream machine but it's all true
I'd do everything and more for you
The caskets filled with pasts left behind
are buried with hindsight that finally aligned
A voice from the static and the fuzz
The buzz calls from the angel in the drone
Wicked tales you weave and relationships you grieve
I hope you will never feel alone
It's just some ratio, a fatal metronome,
lost in the mazes of my old homes
I feel the grief's hard to swallow and I just face the fact
that my musings are the byproduct of some interstellar lounge act
But when the symbols of affection are a foreign script,
longing for the fury road and entrance to the crypt
You are the only one in my crystal ball
Deliverance comes whenever I fall
Oh to stay in the mimeosome, view the invasion from the new foundation home
And in times like these I need some clarity, the puppet blocks the pain momentarily
But I can't hide forever in the past, it flashes back to the future of my iconoclast
To prove a point, we talk about whatever
The roads less traveled lead me in the direction
that sends messages to biodegrade forever
The caskets filled with pasts left behind
are buried with hindsight that finally aligned
Whenever the Ghosts take form
and the shapes the mouth makes come hard-worn
It's something that I feel far too often
and who I used to be is soon forgotten
Which strand of DNA is me?
What containment unit connects us organically?
I wanna set the heavens in motion,
traverse this malignant sprawl
I wanna excommunicate from this notion
just in time to disappear once and for all
To this day, I still get chills when I hear the intro to 21st Century Breakdown. I can still see my favourite band, as if in slow motion, running onto that stage like the heroes they were to 14 year-old me. I can see Mike thumping his heart and Tré sitting to play the show’s first beats. I can still feel the unbridled joy, the disbelief and looking back, how my life changed in that very moment.
This tour was arguably the biggest act of Green Day’s career. It was also the biggest turning point in my own life.
If you’ve read my Italy recap, you know I was unwell when I saw Green Day for the first time. For three years I’d barely left the house. I never went to school. My hope for the future was gone. While my single mum worked herself to exhaustion to support us both, my only company was Green Day’s music.
21st Century Breakdown, bringing with it the excitement of a new era, inspired me. I wanted to be like Gloria. I wanted to be able to say, one day, that I’d found a home in all my scars and ammunition and I’d never put away my burning light. Through that, I found hope. For the first time in years, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
‘Gloria is a person that’s trying to hold the torch for staying inspired, even as you lose a certain sense of your own naivete.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Radio NRJ, 2009
The first British dates for the 21st Century Breakdown Tour were announced later that year. My mum, as big a fan as me, bought tickets for four shows. I didn’t know if I could even go. After all, I could barely leave the house. How could I stand in a crowd of 16,000 people?
Before we knew it, we were in our Green Day shirts on the bus to the station. The local bus was one thing. A train to Birmingham, an unknown city, was a different story. I felt painfully obvious, like my illness was on display for everyone’s amusement. Of course, it was all paranoia. There was no one lurking to laugh at me. But either way, my love for my favourite band was stronger than my fear.
We got off the train at Birmingham Airport. It was quiet. Past a lake was our hotel. To its right was the LG (now Genting) Arena, white against the overcast sky. We checked in and wandered. Kids with multicoloured hair sat on the cold concrete, lining up to secure their spots in the pit. A line soon formed for seats. No one needed to join that so early, including us, but we were too excited not to. The arena’s walls were pink inside. We bought shirts and went to find our seats. It was when I looked at the stage, saw the album art I loved so much there, it suddenly became real.
My now well-worn shirt from my first show
Prima Donna were supporting. They opened with the jingling piano of Soul Stripper. Singer Kevin Preston soon tossed his leopard print jacket aside. Their glam rock sound kept the crowd entertained and dancing while they waited. My chest was tight after their set. Not because I was afraid – because, to my surprise, I wasn’t. As the drunk bunny stumbled around to YMCA, it was sinking in that all the live videos I’d watched of a show that seemed so far out of my reach… I was about to experience that for myself. The bunny was gone. The Ramones’ Do You Remember Rock ‘n Roll Radio? played. Then the crackling static that introduced Song of the Century echoed through the arena. The crowd of 16,000 sang along in unison. My heart was pounding with the first chords of 21st Century Breakdown.
Tré Cool ran onstage. The Big Three. Mike Dirnt. Then, finally, Billie Joe Armstrong.
With flicks of his wrists he drew roars from the crowd. My voice was another scream in the tumultous applause. The crowd clapped along with Tré’s hits of the bass drum. With exploding pyros the show began. I was screaming my favourite lyrics, the words that lifted me from stagnation, back at my favourite band. Billie Joe commanded us all to stand up. We already were, clapping as if our lives depended on it. Green Day’s ferocious energy reached from the front row to the highest tiers. In my seat that looked down on them as specks, I felt as part of the show, the mass of bodies obeying Billie’s every command, as I ever have on the floor since. It was a sense of belonging. A sense of acceptance. I felt understood. I knew I, like the other 15,999 people in that room, mattered.
Photo by Rob Ball, another fan coincidentally sat a few seats from us at two shows. We bought them from him afterwards.
The first fan was pulled onstage in Know Your Enemy. He staged dived to the pyros. Their sound was all enveloping, like a pounding warmth that attacked every cell. Everyone, on the floor, in the seats, was dancing. We repeated Billie’s ‘whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh!’ to East Jesus Nowhere religiously. In the bridge he announced he was going to save someone from the crowd. He stubbornly made his way up into the seats, heading for a young girl called Catherine. There was a long exchange before he returned. Unsuccessful in recruiting Catherine, he called up his own 11 year-old son, Jakob Danger (ensuring we knew his middle name was Danger). Jakob obediently waved his arms before allowing himself to be ‘saved.’ The crowd chanted his name while Billie sang ‘the sirens of decay will infiltrate Jakob!’ and he fell to the floor. Once the song ended, he tried to make a quick escape. Billie announced ‘hey, where are you going, Jakob, you little shit? Come here for a second!’ and promptly planted a kiss on his forehead.
‘Alright, see you later. That’s Jakob – Danger – Armstrong! Danger is his middle name.’
Jakob Armstrong onstage with dad Billie Joe to be ‘saved’ in East Jesus Nowhere. Photo by Rob Ball.
Then Billie yelled ‘do you wanna start a fucking war?’ and the show resumed with Holiday. Watching Bullet in a Bible, it was hard to imagine how chanting ‘hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!’ back at Billie in the bridge really felt. It was like a reeling high. As we screamed along to ‘the static aaaaa-aaaaaa-age!’ I just couldn’t believe I was there. The sweltering heat and my hoarse voice were reminders it was real.
Back then, we weren’t looking at setlists. My mum had no idea they were about to play one of her all-time favourite songs – Give Me Novacaine. I can still see the disbelief on her face. After all those years, working so hard she could barely wake up, she was free. Billie even announced that he was now one of us:
‘We’re still alive, Birmingham! It’s been a long fucking time, goddamn I’m so fucking happy to be back in England, you have no idea. Goddammit I’m fucking moving here, fuck this shit, I’m fucking moving. Packing my bags, I’m gonna get on a big old fucking aeroplane, I’m gonna take all my shit across the pond, and I am officially fucking English as of now! I’m bringing it back home!’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, October 27th, 2009
Another fan came up for Are We The Waiting. With a disco ball reflecting skulls around the room, it was like being in the starry nights, city lights coming down over me. It was anthemic. That dirty town might as well have been burning down in my dreams, because nothing mattered but singing at the top of our lungs. The world outside was irrelevant.
Photo by Rob Ball
Billie darted around the stage to St. Jimmy. It was more ferocious, more passionate than I could have imagined watching videos. The crowd was deafening through Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Then they burst into Murder City, a performance that was recorded for GreenDay.com. I didn’t expect that and I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when, two songs later, they played At the Library. People were confused, wondering if this was a new song. We were the only ones in our block screaming every word. Now I wasn’t just seeing Green Day. They even went and played At the Library and Murder City.
Playing At the Library. Photo by Rob Ball.
When I Come Around’s old-school charm wasn’t lost in the dazzling show. Dancing to Brain Stew and Jaded, I didn’t feel I’d missed a thing by hearing them live 14 years after their release. Green Day were every bit the band they were in the 90s – except even more energetic. Everyone around us, young or old, was jumping.
As Knowledge came to a close, Billie announced a band of fans would finish the song. He sought out a drummer first. I was a drummer. I’d bought a poster before the show, which up until this point had been inconvenient. Without thinking, I waved it around. Then Billie was actually looking at me, pointing up into our seats like he did with Catherine. There was an exchange with security. Then I chickened out. I put the poster down. Looking confused, he went to find a bassist instead. Maybe he wouldn’t have picked me, even if I’d had the balls, but it’s still sort of funny.
Basket Case and She followed. The hits were every bit as invigorating as the rarities. The extended King for a Day, with all its goofiness, floor-humping and cover snippets, was a fun and amusing break in the intense set. Could anything top At the Library? Probably not.
‘It’s not written for two people. It’s written for about 20,000.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong on 21 Guns
Or so I thought, until King for a Day’s silliness faded to 21 Guns. I already loved this song. The music video was my all-time favourite. But I could never have imagined its rawness live. I was moved beyond words as I watched the fire rain down to ‘as a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone!’ and Billie’s added ‘whoa-ohs’ that seemed to come from the depths of his heart. Following that was emotional piano absent on the studio version. The band were silhouetted against the music video playing on the screen behind them. I might have been crying. I don’t remember. Billie described 21 Guns as not being written for two people, but 20,000. He was absolutely right.
21 Guns. You can see everyone dancing in the seats opposite us! Photo by Rob Ball.
Then the show was uplifted again with Minority. Billie thanks every crowd countless times after the solo, but each word remained sincere. Blue and white confetti burst from the stage, sprinkling the crowd as the song closed.
Green Day confetti during Minority. Photo by Rob Ball.
Finally, with American Idiot and Jesus of Suburbia, the show too was coming to an end. The crowd, drenched in sweat from the pit to the seats as if at the end of a journey with the band, watched the inimate Last Night on Earth, still and in awe. Billie began with an acoustic guitar. We didn’t yet know that with lights flooding the darkened stage, the full band would return. An emotional Wake Me Up When September Ends followed. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), a hate song turned revelling closer, ended the set. The band bowed and waved. It was over. We charged down steps to scoop up confetti from the floor, filling two tissue packets before security chased us off. Green Day played hundreds of shows every tour. Yet this, my first show that to anyone else was just another city on a list of tour dates, was still so special. That, how every show is a precious memory to be treasured forever, is why I follow Green Day on tour.
Tré Cool tweet about the Birmingham show
Sunset over Birmingham LG Arena
We prepared to do it all again the next day. This time our seats were closer. My new-found wellness could stretch so far, though. By Holiday, a panic attack so bad I was throwing up left me listening to East Jesus Nowhere from the toilets. First aid sat me beside someone with a broken leg. There was nothing they could do. I remember passing the back of the pit, seeing the crackling gas mask image in The Static Age. As When I Come Around echoed from inside, drunks assured me I wasn’t missing anything, because Green Day suck now. It was almost comical. I didn’t want to leave, but I was too sick to stay. We returned to the hotel. It took a while, but I convinced my mum to go back. Arriving to Billie humping the floor, she recorded 21 Guns for me and saw American Eulogy, Christie Road and Macy’s Day Parade.
It was a huge setback. I was more afraid than ever to go on to Manchester. But maybe it had to happen, because it also strengthened my resolve. Mental illness would not take my favourite band from me. It could have my future, my dignity, but not my spark of hope.
We arrived in Manchester. On the bus to our hotel, we met another mother-and-daughter pair on their way to the show. I stuck six A4 sheets together to make a ‘PLAY ¡VIVA LA GLORIA!’ banner before we left.
The Manchester Evening News Arena from the bus. This is a terrible photo, but this view was so exciting at the time!
My ‘Play ¡Viva La Gloria!’ banner
This time our seats were on Mike’s side. Watching Prima Donna and the drunk bunny, I was nervous. But once I heard those opening chords of 21st Century Breakdown, saw my heroes run onstage, I knew I would be alright. I knew whatever plagued me in Birmingham, I had overcome. The songs I was hearing for a second, third time were as fresh as ever. Those I heard from outside in Birmingham were even better knowing nothing could take this from me.
Billie with seated fans during East Jesus Nowhere. Photo by Rob Ball.
Security followed Billie as he ran up into the seats in Know Your Enemy and East Jesus Nowhere. In Boulevard of Broken Dreams, he announced he’d split his pants.
‘Did anyone see my balls?’
Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Photo by Rob Ball
After Boulevard of Broken Dreams, I held up my banner. Billie stopped and squinted. People around us were screaming ‘he’s seen it, he’s seen it, he’s seen it!’ and he pointed before yelling into the band mic. They began 2000 Light Years Away. The guys behind us were laughing, saying he misread it. I have no idea if it was really anything to do with my banner, but it was funny either way – and thrilling since they weren’t playing that regularly at the time.
Oldies section. Photo by Rob Ball.
Hitchin’ a Ride was followed by Coming Clean. It was a furious performance of a poignant song. I’m sure there was the odd homo/biphobe in that crowd, but everyone was dancing. This time, I noticed a stencil of Gloria was the backdrop for She. With that, the 15 year-old song joined the narrative of 21st Century Breakdown. In King for a Day, Billie sang snippets of Stand By Me, I Fought the Law and Champagne Supernova. 21 Guns remained as emotional as that first night. Maybe even more so. Because, though I hadn’t quite figured out what yet, I knew something was worth fighting for. That bridge was my favourite moment of every set.
It was all surreal. Watching the confetti spray out again; hearing a passionate Jesus of Suburbia and seeing the show close, lights dimmed and band bowing, with Last Night on Earth, Wake Me Up When September Ends and Good Riddance.
The show closing with Good Riddance. Photo by Rob Ball
I’d reclaimed my missed show. I would reclaim it even more if I made it through the second night.
‘I like playing big places a lot. We got a chance to be playing these arenas, and I’m really grateful for that. I’m not going to sit here and say “fuck our fans, man, they’re not true Green Day fans because they heard us on MTV.” These people are paying to see me play. A lot of those kids have never heard the kind of music we play before, and a lot of them are from somewhere where there’s a single parent that works their ass off to give them $12 to go out and see us play our show. The last thing I want to do is slag on them for coming out to our show. They made us as big as we are.’ - Billie Joe Armstrong, Rolling Stone Magazine, 1996
Green Day merch in Manchester
It was Halloween. I hung back while my mum looked at merch after Prima Donna. Music was playing inside. It sounded awfully familiar. Was I hallucinating? Because I was sure I could hear Stop Drop & Roll! I squeezed past people to alert my mum.
‘Prima Donna are playing the Foxboro Hot Tubs!’
My mum stopped. Listened. Then her eyes widened.
‘That’s not Kevin, it’s Billie!’
We saw this tweet later
We ran from the merch stand to our seats. In our mad charge down the steps, we knocked over someone’s beer. They just laughed. Steps buckled and we almost fell. Everyone around us, as we stumbled clapping and singing into our seats, looked baffled. The Reverend Strychnine Twitch, AKA Billie, sprayed Carling beer – a British replacement for his signature Pabst Blue Ribbon – over the front row. His blond head darted all over the stage. Tré wore a leopard print shirt and Jason a fluffy white coat. In Mother Mary, Billie threw down his tambourine to leap into the crowd. Security helped him back up.
‘My name is the Reverend Strychnine Twitch and yes, we are the proverbial Foxboro Hot Tubs.’
The short set closed with Sally. Before we move on, I’d like to share another fan’s recollection of this from the We Are Revolution Radio book. I don’t think any trick or treat will ever match this for anyone!
Story by English fan redundantburnout from the We Are Revolution Radio book
The intro to 21st Century Breakdown still unleashed butterflies in my stomach. In Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Billie told us ‘last night in the last song I split my pants. I did that splits thing and my whole butt was hanging out after that.’ It was also the last outing of the leopard print thong. #blessed
That night, as 21 Guns faded to drum rolls, I expected Minority. Instead, in an explosion of pyros and energy Billie roared ‘MASS HYSTERIA!’ and I was swept up in exactly that; mass hysteria as I screamed along to one of my all-time favourite songs, American Eulogy, that I missed in Birmingham. In my own blurry video, I’m deafeningly loud as I bellow ‘vigilantes warning ya, CALLING CHRISTIAN AND GLORIA!’ over Billie’s ‘RIGHT HERE IN MANCHESTER!’ It was unreal. Thousands of people were in a shared ecstasy conducted by a tight performance. We watched through moments of quiet while Billie stamped his foot to solos, basking in the band’s talent and energy, religiously echoing ‘heeeeeey-ooooohhhhhh’ as Mike sang his last verse…
‘I can hear the sound of a beating heart, it bleeds beyond a system that is falling apart, with money to burn on a minimum wage…’
…and we screamed in unison – ‘I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE MODERN AGE!’
…and the song exploded into its final chorus.
‘I don’t wanna live in the modern world! I don’t wanna live in the modern world! I don’t wanna live in the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world…‘
Then the music stopped and 21,000 voices, alone with Billie’s and Mike’s, echoed that we didn’t want to live in the modern world, mass hysteria… until Billie sang like an anthem, ‘nobody likes you, everyone left you, they’re all out without you, having fun!’ over Mike and, as Tré conducted with his drumsticks, we joined him.
The world could have ended then and I would have felt the bricks crashing down were healing gold dust. I could hear the sound of my own beating heart. The heartbeat of a kid stifled by mental illness now impassioned, inspired and ready to smash the silence with a brick of self control.
‘A lot of people were like, “you saved my life, you saved me from depression, you gave me hope.” All these things – it sounds cheesy to sit there and say it, but it’s true.‘ – Tré Cool, VH2 Dookie documentary
As we looked for our train home, my mum was, for some reason, driven to get on the London train. She insisted it was ours. I assured her it wasn’t and even if we wanted to go and attend the Wembley show, after blowing our money on merch we had a grand total of 2p ($0.025). Turned out the Foxboro Hot Tubs played a secret show that train would’ve taken us to. Maybe she should’ve become a psychic instead of working for the UN.
I returned to school. Though I was advised not to take on more than English, Maths and Science, I insisted on taking Art, too. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. But I knew now I wanted to be something.
One of my GCSE art pieces inspired by Green Day
‘Being in a band, you have to be a fan first. So when you meet people who have something to say about how some song affected them, those are the people I connect with. I still am that person myself.‘ – Billie Joe Armstrong in Spin Magazine, 2010
We began selling our possessions on eBay. Bags of clothes and trinkets swamped our conservatory, where light for taking photos was best. With our meagre results, my mum’s savings and some abandoned bills, we booked to attend four more shows – Hannover, Manchester, Glasgow and Paris.
This was my first time, at least that I remembered, leaving England. We could never afford holidays. So we landed in Hannover, Germany, on May 29th. Google Maps and internet access abroad weren’t really things back then. We couldn’t figure our way out of the airport. Expedia told us there was a train, but the ticket machines were broken. We ended up spending half our money on a taxi.
Expedia also boasted that Hannover Expo Plaza was full of things to do and a short train ride from Hannover Zoo. We arrived to a barren square of closed-up shops. Hannover Zoo might as well have been on the other side of Germany. The only shop was a distant gas station. We had two days until the show. It resulted in us aimlessly wandering around and filming a variety of videos whirling round on chairs and dancing in the hotel room. The most exciting moment was spotting some Green Day merch and a poster through a window.
Green Day poster in Hannover, Germany
On the day of the show, we awoke to another day of Expo Plaza fun to find some American band parked outside the hotel. There, we met another British fan, Kate. Her ticket was coincidentally just two rows and a few seats from us.
Because there was so much to do in the area, the three of us hung around to see if the band didn’t mind meeting fans. We didn’t meet them, but we did meet a lovely German mother and daughter, Julia and Iris and an Italian fan, Silvia. We also met some guys who climbed on our shoulders to let us know the band didn’t care about us.
Before the show in Hannover
As doors approached, we waited nervously with our tickets. Inside was a display promoting Green Day Rock Band, where kids tried out the ‘instruments.’ Then we filed in to find our seats. Julia and Iris were on the opposite side to us and spotted our Union Jack flag. Next to us was a Welsh solider stationed in Germany, who never missed a local show.
Fans playing Green Day Rock Band at TUI Arena, Hannover, before the show
German band The Donots opened. They were great. Then we waited, with excited butterflies, to be enraptured once again by our favourite band.
When my mum hears the 21st Century Breakdown intro, it’s this show she remembers. Billie running onstage in his red jeans, pointing at our flag, Tré sitting and blowing her a kiss, the pyros and city backdrop the band were silhouetted against.
‘Dream, Deutschland, dream, I can’t even sleep, the light’s early dawn!’
Mosh pits formed and crashed together as songs rose and dropped. They played Nice Guys Finish Last. Both of us were jumping up and down, pushing each other and dancing in our seats. The intensity between the band and the crowd was something else. I laughed at my mum and Tré’s interaction. I cried to 21 Guns. I was there, in Germany, another country, seeing Green Day. Billie didn’t sing ‘from Hannover to the Middle East,’ but I did.
Before we left, my mum bought some tobacco at the gas station and accidentally thanked the staff, who worked through our broken German with us, in Spanish. At least we provided amusement. The airport bid us goodbye with ‘see you again in Hannover – City of International Fairs.’ I don’t even know if the city is nice. We never saw it.
The excitement of seeing Green Day never changed. But there is just one thing about those first five shows I’ll never get back. I didn’t know anyone. I was just another fan. I hadn’t acquired an array of stalkers and I was unaware of fandom drama and hierarchies. No one was waiting for me to do something, anything, wrong so they could flaunt it online. There are parts of this I’m hesitant to share because someone will take my vulnerability out of context to use against me. It’s unavoidable when attending a lot of shows and having said all that, I willingly stuck myself in by making a documentary about it. Being oblivious was nice while it lasted, though.
When we got home, I saw an ad on the National Express website for coaches to the Wembley show. Well, if it was going to be that easy, we couldn’t say no. We bought tickets.
Green Day ad on the National Express website
On June 16th, we boarded another train to Manchester. We were halfway when it occurred to me our tickets were open. We didn’t have to go for the seats. What if we could make the front row? Catching a tram to the LCCC, we joined the line behind a group of blokes writing ‘GEORGE’ on everyone. The sun scorched the concrete. It was only after I agreed to become a George that I realised the sun would emblazon it over both of my arms. It was permanent marker. I couldn’t escape my destiny as a George. Then a lady saved me with some breath freshener. My mum has carried breath freshener ever since.
The line at Lancashire County Cricket Ground
It was still light when doors opened. With a speedwalk across the floor we made second row on Mike’s side. People around us had travelled from all over the UK. They were kind enough to squeeze me in. The girl beside me, who’d also been at the Birmingham shows, taught me how to hold a barrier spot. That was one of the closest things to this mythical ‘punk spirit’ I’ve experienced at Green Day shows.
Waiting for Green Day at Manchester LCCC
Frank Turner and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opened. Then we waited for our first close-up experience to begin. The band ran onstage one by one. Up close, Mike looked perfect, as if someone had drawn him. Tré and the Jasons were unexpectedly petite. In Know Your Enemy, Billie ran all the way out to our side. He stopped in front of me and his face lit up as he pointed, looking surprised to see me on the front row. I can still see it now, preserved like a photograph in my memory. It meant the world to 15 year-old me that my hero remembered me, even though he’d only seen me from a distance in seats. Class lad, he is.
My first front row view
That was my first taste of the front row. It was also my first experience of petty catfights over front row spots, but I remember how in St. Jimmy, that all stopped; we were just one huge, thriving organism losing our minds to music, equal and united. People were being pulled out left right and centre. The heat was sweltering. Yet I loved it. I loved every second of being crushed and punched and my hair pulled. From that moment, seats would never be the same again.
‘I swear to God I would never want to be in any other fucking band than Green Day. I swear to God. I hate when bands break up. All of my favourite bands, either someone died or they broke up. It’s like your parents or something. But you gotta wheel me away in a fucking coffin to get me out of this fucking band, I’ll tell you that.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Lancashire County Cricket Ground, June 16th, 2010
I watched the show close with When It’s Time with tears in my eyes. Singing ‘we are all born in a world of doubt, but there’s no doubt, I figured out I love you,’ I was sort of speaking to myself, to my own life, knowing love was beautiful and real; and to my favourite band who reminded me how to love when I thought I never could again.
‘I feel lonely for all the losers that will never take the time to say what’s really on their mind; instead, they just hide away. Yet they’ll never have someone like you to guide them and help along the way, or tell them when it’s time to say I love you.’
Because, as I held my mum’s hand threading through the crowd on our way out, my heart was fit to burst with all the love it held. I did feel lonely for all the losers who would never understand.
Green Day billboard at Manchester Arena
We went home and got straight back on the bus to Wembley Stadium. Doors opened as our bus pulled in. Knowing there was no hope for front row, we hung back, taking in the atmosphere of Green Day’s biggest headline show so far.
‘When I was a little kid doing air guitar to my favorite records I never thought I’d be doing it with an actual guitar in front of that many people.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Kerrang, 2005
That yell of our capital city’s name is on the following live album, Awesome as Fuck.
‘Are you with me? Are you with me? This is what I need you to do. This is what I need you to do. When I say one, two, three, four – I want everybody to go fucking crazy! Are you ready? We are the class of, the class of 13, born in the era of humility, we are the desperate in the decline, raised by the bastards – ONE, TWO, THREE, GO!’
It was like a call to arms. At each yell of ‘jump, jump, go!’ Wembley Stadium obeyed. The band radiated energy.
‘Fucking Green Day is going to win the goddamn World Cup, I can tell you that now.’
For the first time since 2004, they played my mum’s favourite song – Waiting. People stared bewilderedly as we lost our minds. We laughed along as Tré played Dominated Love Slave and Billie gleefully hit the drums.
Confetti fluttered into the night from Minority to Jesus of Suburbia. I remember looking up and seeing it floating above me; stretching out my hands to catch some. The show closed with When It’s Time and Good Riddance.
Me after the Wembley Stadium show
National Express buses for the Green Day show at Wembley Stadium
A few people were late back to our bus. I took the chance to buy a £2 knock-off poster from a man who said our driver was ‘bein’ a bit of a funny bugger.’ Before we boarded, the driver said there was no way he could possibly drive off without us, because he’d remember my hair. The lights of Wembley Stadium faded away. I was jolted awake at a service station stop. We all piled off the bus. I nearly left my bag and merch, but I thought better of it. I left the knock-off poster. We bought a couple of cold drinks. My mum had been chatting to another passenger, moments before we went back outside. Where had the bus parked? We couldn’t see it anywhere.
That was because it had already left.
This is hilarious now. At the time, it was not remotely funny. It was 2am. We were stranded at a service station, in the middle of the M1, miles from Nottingham when we needed to be back in a few hours to catch the train to Glasgow. The summer heat faded to a chilly night. All we had for warmth was our Union Jack. This wasn’t even a regular National Express service. It wasn’t like another one would come by in a few hours.
A long-haired man who felt sorry for us bought my mum a coffee. We stared hopefully at the tired drivers passing by but no one was going our way. Our only hope was to contact National Express. We scanned our tickets and found an emergency number. I was fairly sure it wasn’t for Green Day fans stuck on the motorway at 2am, but it was our only hope; so with my remaining 10% battery, I called it. A grumpy voice picked up.
‘Hi. We’ve been stranded in the middle of the M1.’
‘What do you mean, stranded?’
He argued that it was our own fault. I argued it wasn’t. The driver just didn’t count his passengers after saying he’d never miss us because of my hair. Eventually the man sighed.
‘What service station is it?’
He agreed to divert a coach from Stansted and told us to go outside immediately. We waited for what felt like hours in the cold. Only cars and trucks rolled past. The bus wasn’t coming. My mum called them back (noting that this guy sounded like her call woke him up, which improved the scene). The bus was coming in half an hour, he said. It was an hour later when a Veolia coach turned into the car park. The driver’s assistant sat down to talk to us.
‘Were you at a football game?’
‘We went to see Green Day.’
‘What? Green… what?’
‘A band. An American band. Green Day.’
He looked lost. We suggested American Idiot. Wake Me Up When September Ends. Boulevard of Broken Dreams. He shook his head.
‘What kind of music is it?’
‘Rock. It’s like rock. Punk rock.’
‘Punk… rock!’ he told the driver, ‘A punk rock band called Green Day!’
We arrived in Nottingham as the sun rose. Whether we’d make our train to Glasgow was another matter. Our train and Green Day tickets were at home. We leapt into a taxi. Nottingham city taxis go as slow as possible and take the longest routes to maximise the fare. We explained our situation. The driver asked if either of us were available for marriage. We changed the subject.
Well past our 24th hour of no sleep, my mum called another taxi while we rummaged for our tickets and threw clean clothes into our bags. We made it to the station with minutes to spare. After our train to Preston was delayed, we narrowly missed our change by blocking the door with our bags. Someone was in our seats and we didn’t even bother questioning them. We just stood, basking in the relief of surviving Newport Pagnall service station.
A blue sky welcomed us to Glasgow. Misunderstood accents led to us buying the wrong onward tickets to the SECC. We escaped before the conductor reached us. From the station, we walked through the ‘SECC Walkway.’ We fondly nicknamed it ‘The Oven.’ Ever spent too long in a greenhouse? It was like that but worse.
In The Oven
We checked in and dumped our bags, finding ourselves in another episode of There’s Nothing Here. The only way out was back through The Oven. We chose being baked over more videos of us spinning on chairs in the hotel room. A chip shop offered a cheap meal. My sausage was rejected and cold. We walked back through The Oven to find the SECC was actually open and had a shop. The sausage was unnecessary.
We saw a bit of a river and a bridge the next day. Doors were still hours away. Unsure what else to do, we resumed aimless wandering. We thought someone was washing the stage trucks but it was just a guy having a piss. Sometimes I think that now I line up early, I miss all the sights, but I really don’t.
The River Clyde, Glasgow
Other fans were waiting for the band, so we joined them. I wrote ‘¡VIVA LA GLORIA!’ on my arms and held our Union Jack. Billie and Tré wound their windows down as they arrived in black cars. Tré stuck his tongue out. We chatted to a crew member who was amused by our National Express story. As soundcheck rumbled from inside, the first song we heard was ¡Viva La Gloria! so I guess that was more successful than seeing merch through a window in Hannover.
Our Union Jack outside the SECC
Doors opened. Fans trooped into the rectangular room. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opened again. Billie wore a fan’s tie bearing the Armstrong family tartan. He wound up the crowd with statements of ‘fuck England!’ and ‘so much better than England – Scotland always is!’ Afterwards he grinned at us, as if expecting us to be pleased. Thanks, but I’m not Scottish.
In East Jesus Nowhere, Billie ‘saved’ a pair of twins. While a fan sang Longview, he took a toilet break. They played Waiting again. The arena show was intimate after stadiums. Coincidentally, the confetti was also the colours of the Scottish flag. Scooping it up after the show, all of this was still surreal. Also surreal that PCL Presents managed to get something right.
While my mum smoked a cigarette outside, a man asked if she was with the band. She said no, he replied ‘come here hen, ave got a picture o’ ye wee man’ and showed her photos of Billie, and not so wee Mike, at the airport.
Joan Jett’s drummer ate breakfast a few tables from us. Our hotel recommended some things for us to see, but we had no money left, so we just sat on some plant pots watching an incredible number of people cycle by. Glasgow is an active city, apparently.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we then missed a connection and spent the night on a bench in Manchester Oxford Street Station. I put my remaining pennies in a vending machine. Nothing came out. Of course it didn’t.
We were still exhausted when we boarded the train to Paris. Our fellow passengers thought being on the Eurostar was very classy, then there were these two Green Day fans munching cheap snacks. Emerging in the city centre, we took the metro to our hotel in the suburb of Saint-Cloud. Green Day’s crew were drinking in a bar opposite. For our dinner, we had the rest of the crisps we brought from home and some packaged ice-cream from a convenience store. If we craned our necks, we could see the Eiffel Tower from our window. Before the show, we actually – you might want to sit down for this – went to see it. We saw something! Sightseeing! It was a gr8 day. Even spotted someone else in the same Green Day shirt as me.
Me at the Eiffel Tower
On the way back, I saw another Green Day shirt and complimented it. I never expected the wearer to launch into a verbal essay about their Green Day experiences, how important they were to the band and – after asking how many shows we’d attended – how irrelevant we were in comparison. We laughed it off, because it was ridiculous, but that was the moment we realised what came with multiple shows. Anyway, we met some nice Swedish fans afterwards to restore our faith in humanity.
Green Day merch at Parc des Princes, Paris
At Parc des Princes, we found our seats and danced to Billy Talent’s set. Paramore followed. Then we were waiting, once more – with a new friend, the Paris native next to me – for Green Day. We clapped along as they ran onto the vast stage. Billie’s commands to stand up were unnecessary. Everyone already was, filling the stadium with a deafening chorus of ‘hey-oooooooh!’
‘Know Your Enemy is about empowering yourself, like within yourself. There’s no specific enemy out there. It’s just trying to stay engaged and educated to the world – being able to read between the lines and figure out what the bullshit is, but also trying to find the truth.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, MTV, 2009
In Know Your Enemy, he waved the French flag and hugged a kid from the crowd. It was our second show out of the UK and hearing Billie scream ‘PARIS!’ was surreal. For my mum, hearing him thank us in French after living much of her life in Brussels and Geneva was incredible. In the Holiday bass solo, as red text scrolled over black screens, Billie told us in a French accent that they were going to play all night long, before singing a verse of The Saints Are Coming.
‘I cried to my daddy on the telephone, how long now? Until the clouds unroll and you come home, the line went. But the shadows still remain since your descent, your descent. The saints are coming! The saints are coming!‘
The crowd completed the chorus. Then Billie announced ‘the representative from Paris has the floor!’ and the show resumed. Stageside, Hayley Williams fangirled to The Static Age. I waved my (new, Union Jack replacement) England flag. We heard Nice Guys Finish Last and Geek Stink Breath. It was almost 40°C and people were passing out in their seats. Others did the conga through seats below. Fans jumped in unison through the pit. Chants of ‘Green Day! Green Day! Green Day!’ filled moments of silence. The atmosphere was intense.
The sun set as fire rained down in 21 Guns. Billie held up his acoustic guitar, magnified by the huge screens, through the piano bridge. ‘Merci, merci, merci, merci, merci, merci beaucoup, thank you Paris, France!’ he yelled as drum rolls led to Minority. We watched confetti cover the stadium like shooting stars against the setting sun. As the show closed with When It’s Time, Wake Me Up When September Ends and Good Riddance, rain pattered down and the floor was a sea of ‘thank you’ signs. They inspired the signs that later named Awesome as Fuck. We left, drenched in sweat and spilled beer, picking up two discarded posters that have been on our wall ever since.
Sunset in Paris
That was our last show… or so we thought. When we watched videos of the secret shows leading up to this tour, from Oakland and New York, we laughed and said ‘imagine if we could see them in America one day?’ It seemed impossible for a single parent family who’d never had a holiday until the excitement of Hannover Expo Plaza. Transatlantic flights back then weren’t cheap. But we wanted to see Green Day again, and going to America was the only way. It had to be the last few shows. Otherwise we wouldn’t have time to save up. So, we spent the summer selling our possessions while mortgage arrears stacked up, living on toast. Our destination was California. San Diego, LA and the Bay Area.
We were late to the party, though. The only tickets available were from scalpers. It soon became clear we couldn’t afford three shows. San Diego would have to go. LA tickets were too expensive. What did we do? We couldn’t afford this. I tentatively looked up flights to, and tickets for, the prior Phoenix show; even though it meant staying extra days we couldn’t really afford. Well, it was see one show or find a way to see both. So of course, we chose finding a way. We put down a deposit on a flight. As departure drew closer, things weren’t looking good. Up until the last minute, when we were able to borrow some money, it was uncertain whether we could even go. We arranged with our Arizona scalper to meet him in the hotel lobby. Then, before we knew it, we were on a plane to Washington, DC.
The queue at Immigration inched forward agonisingly slowly. At this rate, we’d miss our connection. When we finally reached the front, they took our fingerprints and stamped my passport. They didn’t stamp my mum’s. On her Immigration slip was a huge X. A clock told us we had 30 minutes. Our flight was boarding. Then security stopped us.
‘You gotta go to immigration. That room over there.’
We were confused. Uncertainly, we took steps in the direction they pointed. We were eventually directed into a small room filled with confused passengers and people in handcuffs. A lady took our passports in silence. They were at the bottom of a large pile. We heard someone else ask about his connecting flight.
‘It’s not your connection you need to worry about. Your main concern is whether you are going to be admitted into the United States.’
With 10 minutes left until our flight, my mum stepped up to the desk. ‘We’re going to miss our flight to Phoenix!’
‘You shouldn’t be worrying about your flight to Phoenix. You should be worrying about whether you’ll be admitted to the United States.’
Five minutes to take off and we were stuck in a room with Homeland Security who made me cry. When they finally called us up, they handed our passports back without a word. We’ve since found out it’s because my mum shares her name with a criminal, but at the time we were just confused.
Our flight was long gone. The corridor outside was empty but for a baggage attendant.
‘Where ya going?’
‘Phoenix. But we’ve missed the flight.’
Without warning, he snatched our bags and threw them on a conveyor belt. Our bags containing our documents and worse yet, receipts for our Green Day tickets, which we’d need to show the scalpers (having since worked for an airline, that stupidity pains me). My eyes were wide.
‘But – but where are they going? We’ve missed our flight!’
The man looked bewildered. ‘They’re goin’ on the next flight to Phoenix. You’ll get ’em in Phoenix.’
Then he turned to chat to a friend. Feeling lost and like seeing Green Day was a distant dream, we went through security again and got directions to customer service. We were on our way when my mum grabbed my arm. ‘Maria, it’s Cone!’
Indeed, Cone McCaslin from Sum 41 was wandering along beside us in Washington Dulles Airport. Sum 41 were my second favourite band at the time. I ran the UK fansite. Cone was my favourite member. I was going to see Green Day in Phoenix. What were the chances of this? But there he was. I said hi and even though his flight was boarding, he took 15 minutes to talk to us. He was at Green Day’s Toronto show that month and loved it. He said he’d remember my hair and was kind enough to sign the only paper I had on me, the 21st Century Breakdown booklet. Without a doubt, he was one of the most polite people I’ve ever met. I always wonder if he missed his flight because of us. I hope not.
Cone’s autograph in my 21st Century Breakdown booklet
Every flight to Phoenix was full. United put us on a flight to Denver to connect there. The lady on the desk said ‘I’m gonna give you these boarding passes and you’re gonna run.’ So we ran, promptly stopping to buy a Washington shirt. This was ridiculous and I wanted to remember it, after all. We arrived in Denver on time. The only notable thing on our flight to Phoenix was a guy getting so excited about his hometown he shouted ‘PHOENIX!’ at regular intervals. After 48 hours of travel, we arrived… and there were our bags, looking sad and neglected in the lobby of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. A shuttle bus driver, who said ‘I thought you were a werewolf!’ picked us up. The hotel were about to cancel our booking. We were just in time.
Phoenix from our hotel
Our scalper met us in the lobby the next day. He told us it was awesome we’d come from England and advised us to drink lots of water. We hopped in a taxi to the amphitheatre. Doors had long opened and AFI, the opening act, were closing their set.
Green Day stage in Phoenix, AZ
‘I think of rock ’n roll as being the ultimate American culture. And I always look at that and feel like that’s what I’m playing too, and that’s what I want people to look at: this is the good side of America, this is the side that doesn’t just settle for the grand scheme of things.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Rolling Stone Magazine, 2006
It was like everything leading up to this was a five-second dream. I was sitting in England, then I was suddenly there in the dry Arizona heat, surrounded by palm trees; hearing Song of the Century, the closest I’d ever been to a stage Green Day were about to take. Around us, the crowd chanted ‘Green Day! Green Day!’
Then the band ran on – Billie with his blond hair and striped jeans, Tré in shorts, perfectly drawn Mike, Jason in a blue jacket – in perfect clarity.
‘Buenos noches Phoenix, ARIZONA!’
I have no words to describe what hearing that for the first time was like. My words caught in my throat as I sang ‘dream, America, dream’ there, in America. I could have cried, broken down in tears of joy, but I danced them away to Know Your Enemy. We were living a dream that once seemed impossible of seeing our favourite band in the United States. In East Jesus Nowhere, Billie pulled up a kid called Alexander, stealing his earmuffs and helping him play his Les Paul Jr.
‘Security, security, get rid of this kid! He’s gonna steal my pot! Alex, do you wanna start a fucking war?’
I was as thrilled as any local with Billie’s every roar of ‘are you ready, Arizona?’ In the Holiday bass solo, the amphitheatre flushed red by lights and scrolling text, Billie ran over to our side. He spotted us, grinned and pointed.
Billie spotting us in Phoenix. Video by Sheri Hunter. All others posted from this show are mine.
‘The representative of Arizona now has the floor!’
Pyros exploded with Billie’s ‘bang bang!’ as on the screens, troops marched in black and white. Drum rolls led to Murder City.
‘The clock strikes midnight in A-RI-ZO-NA!’
Then it cut to Give Me Novacaine. ‘Oh, it’s so hot, it’s so hot, I think I’m gonna take all my fucking clothes off. Whoever gets naked tonight gets 50 bucks!’
We chorused ‘heeeeeeeey-ooooooooh!’ to tinkling piano. The crowd waved, at Billie’s command, from the pit to the lawn in sync. Instead of ‘Jimmy says it’s better than here,’ he sang ‘Arizona’s better than California!’ and I screamed approval with everyone else. It ended with ‘give me the entire state of Arizona!’ Billie couldn’t have reminded us where we were any more if he tried.
Then Tré began the intro to a ferocious Letterbomb. It was my second favourite song at the time, after only ¡Viva La Gloria! and it was the first time I’d seen it. I went insane. I was screaming, the lyrics, just screaming, turning my voice hoarse and jumping until my legs were weak.
Me dancing to Letterbomb for the first time
‘This is it! Your time is right now! This is it! There’s no fucking job you’ve gotta fucking go to! There is no boss! There’s no bullshit! There’s no computers! There’s no television! There’s no cellphones! There’s no fucking school you gotta report to! This is it! This is the opportunity right now! This is your fucking freedom! Are you with me, Arizona?’
Some fans criticise Billie’s Letterbomb speeches. But you know what? He was right. That was our freedom and I was liberated, with Arizona as we screamed to tell Billie yes, we were with him. As Tré began Are We the Waiting, Billie announced ‘my aunt is out there in the crowd tonight! She’s a resident! Right here in Arizona!’ before singing ‘are we, we are! And screaming…’ and holding up his mic for the crowd to echo him. I had one hand on my heart, one in the air, screaming ‘heads or tails, fairytales in my mind.’ I felt like Jesus of Suburbia, escaping to a fairytale city to live ‘the rage and love, the story of my life.’ In St. Jimmy Billie roared ‘are you talking to me? Are you screaming at me?’
After the crowd sang the first verse of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Billie placed his guitar down. He proceeded to attempt a headstand. He soon fell on his ass, but he just got back up, did a dance and announced ‘I’ll fucking do anything for fucking Arizona, I’ll tell you that!’ The song was anthemic.
‘If you take a song and you get enough people singing it, it becomes an anthem, and an anthem becomes the national anthem, to a degree. I love people when they join together and sing, and it’s just massive, and it’s done for the right reason. Even if it’s just a great party.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Rolling Stone Magazine, 2006
Billie caught something from the crowd, threw it out, then grinned.
‘We’re gonna play a brand new song.’
My mum and I glanced at each other with wide eyes. We had no internet and no idea what they’d been playing.
‘It ain’t that brand new. This song’s called Cigarettes and Valentines!’
We didn’t know the words, but with the strangers around us, we jumped and danced as if our lives depended on it. It couldn’t have been more appropriate that it was here, in the Valley of the Sun, we danced and screamed to ‘the end of the earth, under the valley of the stars.’
The Cigarettes and Valentines performance on Awesome as Fuck
Burnout followed. If I thought this couldn’t get any better, I was wrong, because then they played One for the Razorbacks. I was drenched in sweat, watching people pass out around us, but I felt like I could pass out and stand straight back up. In 2000 Light Years Away they invited as many fans as they could fit onstage. Security guided them up, they danced, then were escorted back off. The regular oldies section followed. Seeing it here was like seeing it for the first time all over again. My mum and I were our own mosh pit, dancing and shoving and grabbing the other’s arm to scream our favourite lines. King for a Day’s fun dissolved into 21 Guns. Billie spoke into the internal microphone as he returned onstage to rolling drums. We expected Minority.
‘Sing us a song of the century, it sings like American Eulogy…’
We heard American Eulogy, in America. This mass hysteria was like the entire show’s rage, love, energy and passion rolled into one triumphant, dazzling climax as confetti exploded around us and the band.
Jesus of Suburbia
The crowd stilled as the show closed once again with Last Night on Earth, Wake Me Up When September Ends and Good Riddance. No dream of seeing Green Day in their home country could ever have prepared us for this reality. It was better.
One of Billie’s then-infamous ‘ho as hell’ tweets. Good to know he liked American Eulogy as much as we did.
The next day, we one-upped the Eiffel Tower and went to the Grand Canyon, stopping in Sedona on the way. It’s still one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen and I have no doubt that without Green Day, we’d never have visited.
On our way to Sedona
Back on the road to the Grand Canyon
My mum in her Green Day Paris shirt at the Grand Canyon
This is one of my favourite photos ever.
We landed in San Francisco to find we had, yet again, managed to book a hotel with no connection to civilization. Well, OK, there was one escape route. We got on the airport shuttle, which dropped us in Burlingame, where we could take the CalTrain to San Francisco.
Approaching Golden Gate Bridge
In San Francisco, we broke our own sightseeing record and crossed Golden Gate Bridge. The sky was cloudless blue.
Looking not very candid at Golden Gate Bridge
As we walked back, thick fog blanketed the bridge and city until we could barely see. We got to see two sides of it in one visit. It was cool until we found it caused most public transport to stop running. We wandered until we found a bus that took us back.
Fog over Golden Gate Bridge
Fog over the San Francisco skyline
We passed the rest of the time Hannover-style in Burlingame, where we lived on Walgreen’s buns, because we could only afford one more CalTrain and that had to be to the show.
Sunset over Burlingame
Arriving in Mountain View
‘Music is inspiring for me, it’s changed my life, so yeah, I absolutely think music can inspire people to change their lives.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Absolute Radio, 2009
On show day, we got off the train in Mountain View and walked through clean streets to the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Christian protests surrounding it went ignored. Scalpers met us on the driveway, where they upgraded our tickets for the all-seated show, placing us next to Mike.
Christian protest against Green Day’s show at the Shoreline Amphitheatre
Green Day merch at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Tré did an interview at the Live 105 tent earlier that day.
We caught AFI’s set this time. Halfway through, Green Day invaded the stage in animal costumes. Singer Davey Havok went on to play St. Jimmy in the American Idiot musical. You should check them out.
Green Day crashing AFI’s set in animal costumes at their homecoming show
Darkness was falling when Song of the Century echoed through the amphitheatre. This was it. The homecoming and final show of the North American tour. It was filled with fans from the Bay Area to Japan to Australia.
The band ran onstage together. Billie screamed the names of every unfamiliar town we’d sped past on the CalTrain.
‘Home! Home! I am fucking home! It’s been fucking months! But Green Day are back at home! In the fucking Bay Area! However… if you don’t mind, I’m gonna refer to this night as Rodeo, California.’
Mike pointed at my England flag and stuck his tongue out. When he walked out, he beckoned for me to high-five him. Instead of ‘saving’ a kid in East Jesus Nowhere, Billie pulled up an older lady who ‘saved’ him.
Green Day playing East Jesus Nowhere at the Shoreline Amphitheatre
They played Murder City and Letterbomb again. My voice that had just recovered from Phoenix was hoarse already. The seats restricted no one. I was directly in Mike’s line of view and for much of the show he pulled faces and interacted with me. I rocked out with Mike Dirnt and I’m still not over it.
We knew a few of the words to Cigarettes and Valentines now, but it was like seeing it for the first time all over again. After Geek Stink Breath was Coming Clean. Billie announced ‘this next song is about revenge!’ before Going to Pasalacqua. Everyone was jumping to Only of You. It was followed by an explosive performance of Paper Lanterns. That bled into 2000 Light Years Away. They invited fans on stage. The people in front of me were screaming at me to go. My mum was pushing me. I shrugged and said I didn’t want to. By the time I realised both Mike and Eddie (band security) were beckoning me, it was too late. I’m honestly surprised I ever ended up on stage.
In 21 Guns, during that bridge I loved so much, Billie thanked us all for the last 22 years. It was beyond surreal to hear that where it all began in the Bay Area. Then we were thrown back into American Eulogy. I can see, clear as if I’m still there, Billie spinning around as he played the solo. I can still hear the roar of ‘Bay Area!’ and see the confetti covering us. I can still see the band returning to play Last Night on Earth and feel the tears in my eyes as I looked up at the night sky. Not going to lie, I was head over heels for my now-fianceé Annabelle who was at the show, but too stupid to realise. I remember thinking ‘I don’t know who you are, but I love you,’ and knowing, somehow, that whoever it was felt the same way. A year later, we danced to Last Night on Earth in my living room.
The tears were still streaming down my face as we left because it was over. This adventure, this journey I’d taken with my favourite band that had undoubtedly changed my life, came to an end. We packed our bags and caught the shuttle to San Francisco Airport. California disappeared below the clouds.
We hadn’t even considered the Latin American tour. So of course, we got home and looked it up. This story has been retold by others in various ways, from ‘Joy and Maria randomly decided to go to Latin America 24 hours before the show!’ to ‘Joy and Maria went to [insert Latin American country we didn’t actually go to] for 24 hours just to see Green Day.’ None are exactly accurate.
Our options were Caracas (before the terrible crisis Venezuela is in now) or Costa Rica. Flights elsewhere were too expensive. We settled on Costa Rica. It was the last show and gave us longer to save up. Every day was spent photographing eBay items and packaging them. It was mentally exhausting. My eyes were sore and bloodshot from staring at the screen. Our chances of making it still seemed low. With one week left, we emptied most of what remained in our house onto eBay for whatever low price it would sell at. We couldn’t even carry all our parcels to the Post Office. My grandpa kindly drove us with his car piled high.
Me sticking cardboard over a window to get the best light for eBay photos
‘I got my education through punk rock. It may not be the biggest education in the world but I formed opinions and views on the world and society, feminism and racism through it. I think it changes individuals.’ – Tré Cool, Big Cheese, 2004
If I went to this show, I’d miss a crucial Maths exam. My only option if I did was to take a much more difficult one and teachers assured me I would fail it. Regardless, with less than 24 hours to go, we crashed into STA Travel and booked everything. We had no tickets to the show. Just some National Express tickets printed on STA Travel paper and flights to San José, Costa Rica.
That night, we were on a flight to New York. My mum was, of course, taken to ‘the office’ and we were, once again, at risk of missing our flight to San José. If we did, we would miss the show.
We escaped to find someone had walked off with my mum’s bag. Staff shrugged, said it was probably on its way to San Juan and told us to file a report in San José. I was then held up by my illegal cargo, some sour cream and jalapeño crunchy combo mix that travelled all the way from Nottingham just to be told it wasn’t welcome. Rude. We ran and made the flight. In the seat beside us, someone was making a ‘St. Billie’ tapestry. We thought it had to be a bizarre coincidence but no, she was indeed a Green Day fan from New York heading to the show.
It was a relief when we arrived in Costa Rica and my mum was let straight in. She described it as ‘I could see the screen and it had like a big light bulb on it, and it said something like “green light, no problem, admit this person!” I love Costa Rica.’ We got into a taxi with our fellow fan from the plane. The next day we were in another cab on our way to Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, stopping briefly at a Masxmenos supermarket to buy our tickets. We joined a long line at the purple-painted stadium. Men with coolers walked up and down, shouting ‘agua!’ while others offered sunglasses and umbrellas.
Green Day line in Costa Rica
TV crews arrived and filmed our England flag. Other fans posed with it. We bought knock-off wristbands and shirts. Our new friend Alejandro entertained his mother during a phone call with ‘I’m with two British girls! No, really! I’m serious!’ He and I went to a nearby McDonald’s to get food and on our way back, thought we could hear Nice Guys Finish Last. Both of us cursing in English and Spanish, we ran, avoiding potholes and cars that honked as we charged in front of them. Turned out to be techs just testing the drums. Oh well.
Green Day fans in Costa Rica
We met up with others from England, Honduras and the US who we knew from the Green Day Community forum. Sitting on bird shit in Tibás, Costa Rica, probably should have been the moment we knew Green Day had ruined us, but honestly? There was a sense of community I wouldn’t have traded for the world.
Me and Alejandro with my flag
It was dark when doors opened. Security sorted us into male and female lines. When I ran for front row, my trousers fell down. Twice. After that, we made second row. There’s a reason I only wear leggings to shows now.
In the pit, we made two more new friends, Silvia and Adriana. We’re still in touch today. The local opener, Bufonic, were great.
Then, Song of the Century echoed into the night for the last time. We were in Costa Rica, about to see Green Day. I will never, ever, forget being diagonal, off my feet, as I looked up at Billie to see him put his mic aside to check he wasn’t seeing things, then give me the most incredible look of ‘what the fuck are you doing here?’ I will ever receive.
‘What the fuck are you doing here?’ – from videos by reinierocks and lostincoma
In East Jesus Nowhere, Billie ‘saved’ a man on crutches. Watching him wave the Costa Rican flag was like a bizarre, but wonderful, dream. I unfortunately had to give up the spot after being mugged and finding my passport was gone. Silvia kindly came with me. I should have been afraid, having been attacked in a foreign country with no passport to get home, yet as Billie and Mike ran over to point at me in Holiday, I felt safer than I ever had in my life.
Video by reinierocks
The attack went over my head. It was a minor inconvenience before we resumed dancing in decent new spots. After Holiday, Billie headed to the internal mic. I heard piano.
They were playing ¡Viva la Gloria!
I was hearing my favourite song, the words that gave me hope when I thought there was none, in Costa Rica. I couldn’t believe it. There are no words to describe the unconditional happiness I felt then.
‘Don’t let the bonfires go out, Costa Rica!’
Singing Give Me Novacaine, Billie one-upped ‘Arizona’s better than California!’ with ‘Costa Rica’s the best country in the world!’ and ‘at home in Costa Rica!’ That was certainly how I felt. As the show went on, he repeatedly checked I was alright. We exchanged funny faces and he pointed as we screamed lyrics at each other. Even Tré, who I was sure had no idea I existed (and I’m sure he no longer does), nodded and smiled as he threw out drumsticks. I’d never felt so connected to my favourite band. In Are We the Waiting, local fan Isabel who I knew from Green Day Community got onstage. Billie waltzed with her.
The dreamlike fuzz only intensified as One for the Razorbacks was followed by Brat, One of My Lies and Only of You. Then Tré switched places with Billie for Dominated Love Slave. They swapped back for Disappearing Boy. I felt like we were all in a bubble, on a separate plane to the rest of the world, with Green Day. Screaming until my voice would no longer come out to I Was There, I knew I would look back, thinking I was there, for the rest of my life. Road to Acceptance was next. I’d lost my mum, but I knew somewhere in that crowd, she was losing her voice to Waiting. After Christie Road, Billie announced ‘this next song was one of the earliest songs we’ve ever written and I gotta fucking tell you, it’s my fucking favourite fucking song to play right now! So right now, I want everybody here to lose your fucking mind and go crazy and dance, are you ready?!’ and pyros exploded to Paper Lanterns. I waved my flag and Billie pointed as we yelled ‘to this day I’m asking why I still think about you!‘ at each other.
In 2000 Light Years Away, after thrilled fans danced onstage, Billie commanded us to wave as we echoed ‘CO-STA RI-CA!’ to the bassline. I still get that stuck in my head every now and then. Fans posed for a photo with my flag before Hitchin’ a Ride. I waved it when Billie asked for a drummer in Knowledge. He considered it for a moment before shaking his head, smirking, then went to find his son Joey.
King for a Day
‘This is the last show… you wanna keep going?’
The crowd roared approval. Extraordinary Girl provided a poignant prequel to 21 Guns. I had never bellowed anything as loud as I screamed ‘one, 21 guns!‘ or ‘like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone!’ in my life. I was crying, my whole body wracked with sobs that had waited all the years I was unwell to come out. Because I had so much to fight for.
In Minority, I wanted so desperately to scream ‘no, thank YOU!’ back at the band who not only blessed us with such a set but treated me with such kindness; yet I felt at the same time I didn’t need to. Rain fell as Whatsername began the encore. It was one of the first Green Day songs I ever heard. Listening to it on radio.blog.club, trapped at home with my Canada 3000 headphones from the charity shop, I never imagined I’d hear it live… let alone 5,375 miles from that home, smiling through tears in Costa Rica. My voice was trembling as I sang with my arms raised high.
As Good Riddance closed the tour, I sang ‘I hope you had the time of your life!’ with what little remained of my voice. They played almost four hours. I had the time of my life. More than I could ever have imagined. I found my mum and Alejandro after the show. They loved it. Everyone was buzzing on a Green Day high. We were all still smiling as we spoke to staff about my passport. ‘Where are you from?’ one lady asked my mum as she blathered a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. Who cared? We’d sort it out somehow.
While we’re here, I’d like to share another fan story from the We Are Revolution Radio book. This one is by Isabel who got on stage for Are We the Waiting.
Story by Costa Rican fan Isabel from the We Are Revolution Radio book
We walked through dark streets, stepping over cockroaches, to Silvia’s car. Thanking them for the lift, we parted with hugs and a gift of Silvia’s amazing gun earrings.
The 21st Century Breakdown Tour was over. But the next day, as we waited at the police station to report my stolen passport, there were no regrets useless in our minds. Unable to get hold of the British Embassy the day before our flight home, we resigned ourselves to being stuck in Costa Rica and went to Volcán Irazú and Cartago anyway.
Fog over Volcán Irazú
The main crater at Volcán Irazú
I might have been stuck here indefinitely, but at least it was beautiful
Heading back down to San José
On our way back, I got an international phone call. Hoping it might be Annabelle, I answered to the unimpressed voice of my aunt, who has described the relief she feels when she imagines shooting us over Green Day. Needless to say, she did not know we were in Costa Rica.
‘A man in Costa Rica has called the number in the back of your passport to say he’s found it.’
‘Where the hell are you? You’re not telling me you’re in fucking Costa Rica?’
On the road in ‘fucking Costa Rica’
I was, of course, telling her I was in fucking Costa Rica. She gave me the mystery man’s number and hung up. We called him on a hotel phone. He said he’d found my passport discarded on the floor at the stadium and, after realising we did not understand Costa Rican addresses (have you ever seen one?), arranged to meet us outside. When we got downstairs, the passport was at reception. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed I wouldn’t get a new one saying it was issued in Costa Rica.
Please don’t get the wrong idea about Costa Rica because of the passport incident. The people I met there were some of the kindest and most welcoming I’ve ever met. I’ve experienced equally bad behaviour – for far pettier reasons – from European and North American fans. The same thing could have happened anywhere.
’21st Century Breakdown is sort of a collection of photographs, or ideas, or circumstances that have happened within the past five years. Whether it’s a different crisis or a natural disaster, or a financial breakdown, people losing their homes… revenge or whatever, there’s a lot of personal and political things going on in the record. It goes through a sort of dark tunnel with different themes, to hopefully find some sense of hope at the same time.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Radio NRJ, 2009
On arriving home, I passed the exam I was assured I’d fail. Two years after our first show, we sat on white folding chairs on our drive. Our remaining possessions were scattered around us, our keys in the hands of a sympathetic bailiff, as we waited for a moving van to take us to sleep on my grandparents’ floor. My mum’s UN pension disappeared with the house that was no longer ours. The words ‘Green Day’ stared at us, in white spray paint, from our green bin. We laughed. We cried a bit, too. But we regretted nothing.
Green Day are the faces of an inclusive culture from a little punk club in Berkeley. East Bay punks can criticise them all they want. With Green Day shows, their culture tours the world, becoming accessible to everyone and you know what? It doesn’t get much more punk than that.
21 Guns brought me to tears on this tour because I was no longer sure life was worth the fight. Two tours later, alone on the front row in an English arena – like the very one I had to leave in Birmingham – I couldn’t stop myself crying in Still Breathing. Because I knew, thanks to Green Day, that person who almost gave up no longer existed.
I could have chickened out of ever boarding that train to Birmingham. It was a bit like the moment of fear before, seven years on, I stage dived in Champaign, Illinois.
As I walked out on the ledge,
Are you scared to death to live?
Boarding that train, jumping out into that crowd – they’re like bookends to how terrified I once was to live.
But I did jump. I did live.
Did music save my life? Not literally, no. I saved myself. But would I have found the inspiration, the hope, the will to save myself without it? No way.
Hey, 14 year-old me –
You found a home in all your scars and ammunition. Don’t ever put away your burning light.
Thanks Green Day for bringing us the season we always will remember.
¡Viva la Gloria!
Disclaimer: all of these photos were taken with a cheap phone camera long before I studied photography.