3. GREEN DAY “21st Century Breakdown” (Reprise) Green Day’s second rock opera is more ambitious than “American Idiot”: richer, more diverse, more urgent, more flat-out tuneful and also more confusing. The ultimate target of the songs’ rage and frustration can be unclear — the most pointed song can only ask “Do you know your enemy?” — but the ambition and the spirit of punky rebellion are strong. (Jon Pareles, New York Times)
Well, lo and behold, the next single is actually “East Jesus Nowhere.” I am happy.
09-03 – 21ST CENTURY BREAKDOWN
Green Day will be filming a video for their next single “21st Century Breakdown” with director Marc Webb.
I saw “21st Century Breakdown” and its opening companion piece, “Song of the Century” live four times this summer, as well as numerous times on Youtube. (Oh, what a love/hate relationship I have with Youtube due to copyright issues.) The performance posted below was filmed at Madison Square Garden on July 27th (and we’ll leave that at that). It was a fabulous show and my second time hearing 21CB live. Prior to my fourth time hearing it live at San Antonio, I literally found myself craving to hear the song live once more. In fact, when I think of going to London for two shows in October, I can think of almost nothing else besides hearing both “Song of the Century” (recorded) and “21st Century Breakdown” live again.
Many people, including me, predicted (or hoped) that the next single would be “East Jesus Nowhere,” a hard-hitting song about the vagaries of our modern-day religious system. It’s screeching, loud and indignant and I will say truthfully, captures all of the inner angst that I feel about organized religion with lyrics like, “Put your faith in a miracle… And it’s non-denominational…. Join the choir we will be singing… In the church of wishful thinking” as well as “I want to know who’s allowed to breed… All the dogs who never learned to read… Missionary politicians… And the cops of a new religion.” (Though sometimes I have to question myself about the breeding dogs line because I’ve actually thought worse sentiments at times. Just keeping it real, people, just keeping it real.)
Alas, EJN is not the new single, it’s going to be the terrific title song of the album, “21st Century Breakdown.” “21st Century Breakdown” in itself is a problematic song with lyrics such as “Born into Nixon, I was raised in hell… A welfare child where the teamsters dwelled…” and “Video games of the tower’s fall.. Homeland security could kill us all…”. Ouch. The lyrics aren’t as overt as “East Jesus Nowhere,” and the music behind them softens the blow by a bit. “21st Century Breakdown” is not a song to be taken lightly.
And when this song is played live, the house rocks out. Check it out below.
Drunk Bunny, “Song of the Century” and “21st Century Breakdown.” –
Green Day – Song of the Century – 21st Century Breakdown*
Sing us a song of the century… That’s louder than bombs … And eternity
Do we realize that it’s the 21st Century? Sometimes I wonder. The 21st fucking century, and yet humans are still arguing and fighting over the same issues spawned at the start of the 20th: land, privilege, sex, God and money.
Honestly, I can’t remember a time in my life when there’s never been tension in the air. I’ve been tense since the second I was born. (If you’ve not been tense for the past 45 years, don’t worry, I’ve been tense for you.) This last election in the States wiped me out so much that I’ve decided to take a break from politics, the universe, and almost everything… except work and Green Day. I am forgoing television for a few months and haven’t watched for about a week now, which is saying something for me. I’m listening to music and trying to think. I’ve been listening to rather loud music, but still, the music frees my eyes from concentrating on tiny moving pictures. I’ll keep up with the world as much as I can, but really, the world can go to hell in a handbasket for all I care right now. I’m sitting here in the ghetto that I love, in my new Brooklyn home with the amazing view of Manhattan. Big sky. I am as happy as a clam. Ahh. The coming of the second decade of the century is so far soaring above bombs and eternity for me. Aren’t I lucky?
As the Buddha says, all every one wants is to be happy. I would add to that: and to party.
Sing Us a Song of the Century… that’s louder than bombs and eternity.
What a beautiful way to start a lullaby. The song of the century should be so spectacular that it drowns out all ways and means of destruction. When I first listened to 21st Century Breakdown, I was surprised that the album began with such a sweet song as if sung in a newborn’s ear and captured on a Victrola. The lyric begins with an earnest hope quickly deafened by metaphoric bombs and projecting the future. Eternity is a hell of a long way away; everything comes down to the present.
I suppose I should not be surprised that the 21st Century reminds me of all the centuries that have gone before it. Although I studied history in college, I’m not much of an academic but from lessons learned and books read, the past and the present just spin around again and nothing really changes. Sounds finally captured through technology and heard at the start of the 20th Century — hand-cranked — are the same tales of progress, earnestness, hope against despair, madness, war, and peace that are present in our current world of bytes and bits.
The era of static and contraband… That’s leading us to the promised land
A major theme of 21st Century Breakdown echoes around static, presumably the white noise of television and electronics and the heat of popularity, fame and status. Stolen images and stolen time, seconds ticking, adding up to hours and years, and then poof, you’re gone. Gone off into that magical hereafter. Ah yes, magical, indeed. Today is ignored while tomorrow is constantly dreamed about, heaven. It’s always about heaven, either on Earth or the great beyond. It’s always about reaching for something that you cannot see, and may not want when you finally adjust your eyes.
Tell us a story that’s by candlelight… Waging a war and losing the fight
Have you ever listened to a story while a candle flickers across the bedroom wall? Real, living light, not the artificial brightness surging through our electrical grid. Sure, it’s bad for the eyes, but imagine, huddled under your covers, with your father close to you. He’s spinning tales of Br’er Rabbit or a frightening Grimms Fairy Tale. The flickers across your wall create moving pictures — there’s the Witch tricking the children! — there’s the children being baked! — lesson learned, don’t go off into the forest by yourself! — childhood stories of fear and triumph, war and death, peace and love; the same themes from the 20th to the 21st. The means of communication may change, but the human heart rarely does. Nothing changes and children still grow up learning war is right, even if you have to fight the same types of wars over and over again for land, privilege, sex, God and money.
They’re playing the song of the century… Of panic and promise and prosperity
There goes that song again… dawning of a new era… calling…don’t let it catch you falling… ready or not at all… the 21st Century is ‘hear’ and the Victrola cranks out its old themes of stock market crashes, something for nothing, you too can have it all!
This past Saturday, I was in my old place packing up during a hellacious street party on my block, complete with wall of sound speakers. After the sixth hour of salsa across the street mixed with heart-shattering beats up the street, both played at volume 11, I thought my brain would bleed. The Victrola has been replaced with massive woofers, where the sounds of panic and promise and prosperity come at you in mega-death decibels. At the end of the night, police helicopters started churning overhead. When that happens in New York (or anywhere for that matter), you know that something has gone wrong. Two people, aged 19 and 17, died half a block away from me due to gunshot wounds to the head. Their young song of the century is over now. I wonder what bedtime stories they learned?
Yes, if only the Bill of Rights possessed a “Let the People Party” clause to it. Who the hell am I kidding? We’d find some way to fuck that up, too.
I’m hyperventilating a bit from both the heat and rain here in Brooklyn and the fact that Green Day starts their new tour tonight in Seattle. I can’t wait to hear about the concert from folks who are going… what’s the set like?… what did they play?… did folks have a fabulous time… did anyone hurt themselves dancing like fools?
I have to wait another 22 days and then another 24 days to see them in Albany and Madison Square Garden. I am expecting to dance like a fool and hurt myself in the process.
I should really start exercising like crazy in order to protect my body from falling objects, like other falling bodies. Maybe I’ll dance in my apartment and disturb my downstairs neighbors. I’m moving out… what do I care?
I have a tendency at shows to loose myself in the intensity of the music. I almost caused serious damage to myself when I saw Green Day play at Central Park for Good Morning America, but that show only got started before it was sadly over. I didn’t limp out of the venue. However, when I went to see Gogol Bordello a few months ago, I could barely lift my head the next day, and the next day was a work day… eek!
I can only imagine how much pain Green Day is in after one of their shows. I’ve read articles that have said Billie Joe is completely wiped out after a show, and you know, I can relate to that. Bring the pain, boys… I’m ready!
This 1997 cover of Britain’s punk rock magazine Big Cheese cracks me the hell up. Shitty, snarky white punk boys with funny-assed faces completely on the edge of mayhem. If I had met these guys on the street back in the day, I would have crossed it. Scary looking dudes, if you ask me.
I didn’t pay much attention to the band back then. And I’ll tell you why:
I went to graduate school from 1991-1992 and then again between 1996-1998. Prior to 1991 I had left New York to go back home to Detroit and between graduate school stints, I moved to Philadelphia before ending up back in NYC for a second torturous round of grad school hell. If any of you have never been to graduate school, let me tell you, it sucks the living life out of you. I was broke and thinking about other things besides music or Green Day. I do remember watching them on MTV in their 1994 Jaded in Chicago tour stop, though, and being completely blown away. Who the hell were these crazy motherfuckers?
And then… life as I knew it became a music-less proposition as school and work converged into one tired girl by 1995. Sure, I listened to the radio here and there, but I hate radio, particularly New York radio and I tend not to listen to it… and thus I get my music few and far-between.
Please, don’t cry for me, as I know you’re not. It’s my own damn fault that I probably bought less than 20 albums between the years of 1994 and 2004, the year that I finally came up for air from life in general. Yes, I had heard GD songs in-between and I knew who they were and I always thought that they were great, but I was more into Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and my 80’s die-hard leftovers of the Talking Heads, the Police, U2 and some others when I had the time to listen. I also tried to keep on top of my former life in an acting ‘career.’ I had studied Experimental Theater at NYU in the 1980s and I wrote and performed several one-woman shows and curated a program of storytelling called Oral Text. I was a busy girl, so sue me.
One other vital fact: I am not a punk, but I tend to have a punk attitude, whatever that means. If it means hating overbearing authority, despising organized religion for the most part, liking loud music (I tend to gravitate to music with a heavy beat) and trying to do things on one’s own terms, then in some sense I have a punk sensibility without being one. If it counts, I’ve seen Gwar live twice and the Butthole Surfers once… does that help?
By 2001, I was a bit more settled in life, though not by much. (I am always living on the edge in some ways which really has got to stop.) I had a strange job as a researcher on the television show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” and I traveled to Amsterdam, city of my dreams, in June 2000 and August 2001 and things were beginning to mellow out a bit. Then came the Bush II Horror Show Part One followed by 9/11… well, let’s not even talk about 9/11. I was angry and frustrated and felt as if I were ruled by a bunch of bumbling idiots, because, you know, in reality, I was ruled by a bunch of bumbling idiots from 2000-2008. Fear was everywhere, nervousness was in the air, and xenophobia was the impending meme. What a nasty, nasty time it was.
In order to alleviate a sense of helplessness that would turn into self-mutilation if I didn’t stop banging my head against the wall, I joined the satirical political group “Billionaires For Bush” to find some political relief, laughter, and outlet… and then… Green Day’s American Idiot album came out. After four years of living in an American society were dissent was publicly ridiculed and mocked, Green Day came out and said it loud and raucously: I will not be an American idiot. While we did turn out to be idiots anyway by voting Bush back into office… well, that’s a different story.
American Idiot dragged me through the years of 2005-2008, gave me some hope and helped me to focus my unending longing for a smarter, live-free-or-die and greater country than the one I was handed. I will always be grateful to Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, and Mike Dirnt for the support that they gave me and millions of others (American or not) during these years as well as during their long and wacky career. They are always quick to laugh, have one of the greatest live shows ever invented, and well, they seem like fun people to hang out with as long as no one is crapping on anything.
They have come out with a new album, 21st Century Breakdown, and I love it. It’s not the best of their records and its got its ups and downs, sounding more like the sequel of American Idiot than a standalone album. It’s not my favorite Green Day album, but really, after American Idiot, where could they go? AI was perfection and it would have been hard for anyone to top it. It took a good five listens to really fall deep, but it’s been in heavy rotation on my iPhone along with my other Green Day albums since it came out on May 15. I have also been to my first Green Day concert, at Good Morning America, of all places and no less! My goodness, I’m a geek.
That’s my backstory. I will add that I’m originally from Detroit, am adopted, racially mixed black and white, grew up in my father’s bar and my mother’s hardcore Pentecostal religion. I studied theater and I am now an archivist at an undisclosed location. I’m sane, but not by much.
I’m actually just a basket case.
Big Cheese Magazine picture found courtesy of the Idiot Club.