Green Day, the ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ Social Media Jokes and Billie Joe Armstrong’s Reaction


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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Thanks to social media’s prevalence in our lives, certain things achieve “meme” status that otherwise wouldn’t. One of the most notable among online music communities happens every year around the start of September and involves the band Green Day.

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You might know where this is going, depending on your level of awareness of social media trends and the like. In 2004, Green Day released an album called American Idiot. It would largely reinvent the band on a global scale, turning the alt/punk pioneers into a stadium act, its concept album resonating around the world and making Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt an even bigger deal than they already were.

One of the album’s singles was “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and the song’s success elevated it to the meme it is today … mostly leading the band to trend on Twitter as people make jokes about its title:

Once September comes to an end, posts like this show up:

Billie Joe Armstrong has actually addressed this online phenomenon, and … he thinks it’s a bit played out.

“It’s like when Jesus was born on December 25, people go, ‘Hey it’s Christmas time’. When the Easter Bunny comes, people go ‘Hey it’s Easter’,” he told Vulture. “When September comes, people go ‘Hey it’s that guy in Green Day’.

“When September comes, people go ‘Hey it’s that guy in Green Day’. I want to say have fun, but get a life at the same time.”

A subdued song, at least by Green Day’s standards and the theatrics that characterize the American Idiot album, the actual inspiration behind “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is a bit more serious than the memes and jokes might make you believe: it was inspired by the death of Billie Joe Armstrong’s father, who died of cancer when the singer/guitarist was just ten years old.

Its music video depicts a couple being broken up by the Iraq War, which differs from its actual inspiration, Armstrong told MTV the weight of the video’s themes felt appropriate:

“The main emotion in the song is that sense of loss, and that’s what Sam went with in the video, two people very close to each other being disconnected by natural causes,” he said.

With all of this in mind, Armstrong’s seeming rejection of the memes makes sense, doesn’t it?


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