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“Wake Me Up When September Ends:” The sad story behind Green Day’s hit

You probably know the famous song, but do you know what’s behind it?

If you are a die-hard “Idiot” (a Green Day fan) or a punk-rock fan in general, you have probably heard more than once the famous song “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by the popular Green Day. But, did you know the story behind it? Well, today we’re going to tell you a tale full of sadness that inspired the blue hit.

American Idiot

In September of the now distant 2004, the album American Idiot was released. It was liked by critics and fans alike, catapulting the band led by Billie Joe Armstrong to great fame. One of the album’s standout songs was “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” a tune filled with a great emotional charge.

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The main reason is that in September 1982, when he was only 10 years old, Billie lost her father. At the funeral, a little Billie Joe could not contain the pain and emotions of the terrible event, so in tears, he ran out of his house and locked himself in his room. Later his mother would arrive home and knock on the door to talk and console him. But Billie only answered, “wake me up when September is over.” A phrase that the child never imagined that 20 years later would be the name of one of his most successful singles.

Shenanigans

“Wake Me Up When September Ends,” was planned to be part of the album Shenanigans in 2002, but Billie Joe did not feel emotionally ready to release the single, so he decided that two years later, in 2004 it would be part of the album American Idiot, which enjoyed a lot of fame and success during its release and is still a favorite of Green Day’s fans. It was released on September 4, 2004.

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“Seven years have gone so fast”

Samuel Bayer, who had previously worked on other music videos for Metallica and Nirvana, was commissioned to work on the music video. Within the lyrics of the song, we can see references to Billie’s life, the phrase “seven years has gone so fast” refers to the time that passed since he joined bassist Mike Dirnt, to form the band we now know as Green Day. While the last part of the song, “like my father’s come to pass, twenty years has gone so fast,” refers to the time that had passed since the death of Billie’s father, and in this way, he was saying goodbye again.

“Summer has come and passed”

The song was a worldwide hit immediately after its release, reaching number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, while in Belgium, the UK, and New Zealand, it entered the list, but it reached number 1 on the list in the Czech Republic.

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The song has also been a reference for several moments and situations throughout history, the single was dedicated to those affected by Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, and it was also dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 during an event commemorating that event.

Currently, the single is one of the most remembered and loved by Green Day fans, and American Idiot gave us totally memorable songs, deemed as the best album of the band to date. What do you say: Did you already know this story? Is there another fact I didn’t mention? What is your favorite song from American Idiot?

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Remember, don’t wake up until September is over.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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