American Idiot (album)

From Green Day Wiki
This article is about the 2004 studio album. For information about album's title track, see "American Idiot (song)". For other terms related to "American Idiot", see American Idiot.
American Idiot.jpg
American Idiot
Release date: Sept 21, 2004
Recorded: Apr 18, 2003 - Mar 26, 2004
Length: 57:12
Record label: Reprise Records
Producer: Rob Cavallo
Mixer: Chris Lord-Alge
Singles: 1. "American Idiot"
2. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
3. "Holiday"
4. "Wake Me Up When September Ends"
5. "Jesus of Suburbia"

American Idiot is the seventh studio album by Green Day, released on September 21, 2004 through Reprise Records.

This album was created after the masters for Cigarettes and Valentines were stolen. Green Day decided to record American Idiot rather than rerecord Cigarettes and Valentines from scratch. American Idiot entered at #1 in the U.S charts as well as in many countries. To date, it is Green Day's second-best selling album behind Dookie, with over 15 million units sold worldwide.

Story[edit]

The album's protagonist, the "Jesus of Suburbia", emerged out of Armstrong asking himself what sort of person the title of "American Idiot" referred to. Armstrong described the character as essentially an anti-hero, a powerless "everyman" desensitized by a "steady diet of soda pop and Ritalin".

The Jesus of Suburbia hates his town and those close to him, and due to this he leaves the town for the city. He finds a new, more enjoyable life in "Holiday". This part of the story is considered the "party before the hangover", the hangover being "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Here the Suburbian realizes what he left behind, and feels very alone.

As the album progresses the characters of "St. Jimmy" and "Whatsername" are introduced. "St. Jimmy" is punk rock freedom fighter, a "son of a bitch and Edgar Allan Poe"; "Whatsername" is a "Mother Revolution" figure that Armstrong described as kind of "St. Jimmy's nemesis in a lot of ways". Both characters illustrate the "rage vs. love" theme of the album, in that "you can go with the blind rebellion of self-destruction, where St. Jimmy is. But there's a more love-driven side to that, which is following your beliefs and ethics. And that's where [the] Jesus of Suburbia really wants to go," according to Armstrong.

Near the end of the story, St. Jimmy apparently commits suicide. While the singer didn't want to give away the details of the story's resolution, he said the intention is for the listener to ultimately realize that the Suburbian is really St. Jimmy, and Jimmy is "part of the main character [who] pretty much dies".

The reason for St. Jimmy's suicide is because of Suburbian's conformity to regular life, illustrated in "East 12th Street" ("Jesus filling out paperwork now / At the facility on East 12th Street"). The Suburbian longs to have his St. Jimmy persona back to break conformity and "be free" as heard in the same song ("I don't want to stay / Get me out of here right now / I just wanna be free"). Then, in "Nobody Likes You", it is said that the Suburbian's relationship with Whatsername is starting to fade away.

In the album's final song, "Whatsername", the Suburbian loses his connection with Whatsername as well, forgetting her completely (hence her character name). It is evident that the Suburbian and Whatsername fell in love; however, the Suburbian knew their relationship was failing apart due to his St. Jimmy persona being a lie, whereas Whatsername was a true rebel, one that truly believed in her cause. Because St. Jimmy wasn't a true rebel, Whatsername left him to go and start a life somewhere else, described in "Homecoming". The song leaves the story open ended by referring to the fact the Suburbian cannot remember Whatsername's actual name because he has ether forgotten what her name was or had chosen to erase her from his memory in whole.

Another interpretation of the story lists St. Jimmy as a separate character from the commonly accepted Suburbian persona. Differences in the story have the Suburbian meeting St. Jimmy and forming a friendship with him. St. Jimmy ultimately becomes somewhat of a negative role model for the Suburbian, and convinces him to use recreational drugs, as described in "Give Me Novocaine" (an easy display of Jimmy's effect on the Suburbian). Jimmy's antics interfere with the Suburbian's relationship with Whatsername, causing the timely breakup heard in "Letterbomb". After Jimmy's death, the Suburbian becomes resentful of his relationship with Whatsername, wishing things could have been better without Jimmy, for whom he believes she may have ended up leaving him.

Track list[edit]

All songs written by Billie Joe Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

  1. "American Idiot" (single)
  2. "Jesus of Suburbia" / "City of the Damned" / "I Don't Care" / "Dearly Beloved" / "Tales of Another Broken Home" (single)
  3. "Holiday" (single)
  4. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (single)
  5. "Are We the Waiting"
  6. "St. Jimmy"
  7. "Give Me Novacaine"
  8. "She's a Rebel"
  9. "Extraordinary Girl"
  10. "Letterbomb" (feat. Kathleen Hanna)
  11. "Wake Me Up When September Ends" (single)
  12. "Homecoming" (Billie, Mike, Tre)
  13. "Whatsername"

The digital edition has three bonus tracks, all of which are B-sides of the "American Idiot" single:

The Japanese release of American Idiot has "Favorite Son" as a bonus track; the song comes from the 2004 compilation album Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2.

All four songs have no connection to the main album. "Governator" seems to have been written about California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, mixing the words "governor" and "terminator," the name of his most memorable movies. It was written and sung by bass player Mike Dirnt.

Personnel[edit]

Green Day[edit]

  • Billie Joe Armstrong - lead vocals, lead guitar, writing
  • Mike Dirnt - bass, backing vocals, writing ("Nobody Likes You", "Governator")
  • Tre Cool - drums, backing vocals, writing ("Rock and Roll Girlfriend")

Additional musicians[edit]

Production[edit]