American Idiot
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The Son of Rage and Love

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Green Day’s Jesus of Suburbia, the tenth track on their 2004 studio album “American Idiot” was the story of an adolescent from a lower middle class dysfunctional home in American suburbia expressing his disillusionment and disgust for the hypocrisy in the apathetic, messed up world around him. Lost and searching for any form of self-expression, the drugged-up punk rocker addresses the corrupt reality of the mainstream media and capitalism that are essentially worshipped as scripture while using materialism and blind faith in religion to justify their own illusion of reality. In his opinion, the graffiti on the walls of the bathroom in the shopping mall have as much meaning as religion. The “Jesus of Suburbia” is the more rebellious and drug-addicted version of “St. Jimmy”, the character that the “American Idiot” concept record is centered around. He believes that everyone too busy living in their blind “Land of make-believe” of religion, drugs, sex, etc., pretending that everything around them is okay rather than caring about anything in actual reality that really matters. He is sick of the hypocrisy and the expectation that he is just a loser like everyone else in that town so he is making the decision to leave town since no one cares either way, recognizing that he doesn’t have to be a loser like the rest of him if he actually does something with his life. He repeatedly struggles with the self-justification that by outwardly being a screw-up, he is just being what everyone around him expects him to be.  He can’t escape through drugs and meaningless sex to escape the reality of his circumstances, although he tries at one point “Doing someone else’s cocaine”. Like many of the other lyrics of the song, this line carries a double meaning of the “Jesus of Suburbia” character buying cocaine from a dealer, as well as using the cocaine to attempt to escape like everyone else does. During this period of experimentation and struggle to self-medicate, he wastes his life in front of the television on the couch while his mother is out partying. He references on several occasions how he basically grew up on the streets hanging out with the other “Lost children of the city” in the parking lot of the 7/11 because his mother didn’t really care what he did or where he was. This is an instance where the “son of rage and love” lyric could also potentially hold a double meaning of an abusive father and alcoholic mother, as well as the appreciation of where he is from making him the better person that he is today, and his mutual hated of the town and everyone in it. According to Green Day’s bassist Mike Dirnt, Jesus of Suburbia was “an extension of Armstrong’s desire to write the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody of the future, of course referencing the band’s frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. “American Idiot” was the band’s seventh studio album, and as a concept record and punk-rock opera was quickly labeled a strong career comeback with a unique sound unlike the band’s earlier discography. This single used a more “punchy” sound to each chord and a split signal from the guitar’s heavy riffs directed back through an amplifier for a style closely comparable to the Beatles’ Revolution.  Jesus of Suburbia was the longest song Green Day has ever released as a single, although it was the band’s second-longest song ever written, being beaten by Homecoming, which was another song on the “American Idiot” album. The studio version of Jesus of Suburbia is about nine minutes long. Another six minute version was later released as a radio edit since radio stations were reluctant to use up nine minutes of air time on one song. By 2010 the studio version of the song had sold over 200,000 copies. It was voted the “Greatest Green Day Song of All Time” by a readers’ poll in Rolling Stone Magazine in September of 2012. The nine minute studio version is made up of five different movements that help to move the storyline along smoothly: “Jesus of Suburbia” (0:00-1:51), “City of the Damned” (1:51-3:42), “I Don’t Care” (3:42-5:25), “Dearly Beloved” (5:25-6:30), and “Tales From Another Broken Home” (6:30-9:08”. Two different versions of the music video were released, directed and produced by Samuel Bayer, the first 12-minute edit including story plot and dialogue on October 14th, 2005 in the UK and October 25, 2005 on MTV in the United States.  Later another six and a half minute director’s cut with censored lyrics and no story dialogue was released as well. The “American Idiot” concept album, but more specifically “Jesus of Suburbia” is a continuing narrative of many young Americans struggling for self-acceptance and identity during the international political conflict during the Iraq War in the early 2000s. The heart-shaped grenade on the album cover is a perfect illustration of the internal conflicts of the “Son of Rage and Love/ The Jesus of Suburbia”.

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