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.