The Green Day song Billie Joe Armstrong said “broke every rule”

Billie Joe Armstrong

When it comes to writing a song, every artist wants to push the envelope. As tempting as it may be to repeat what someone knows is a winning formula. There’s only so far one song that can take them before they sound like a cheap husk of what they used to be. Green Day was on the verge of becoming irrelevant in the early 2000s. But Billie Joe Armstrong claimed that this song contradicted everything they had previously believed.

On the other hand, Armstrong was accustomed to writing perfect pop melodies for punk rock songs before they even had a record contract. He had a healthy respect for bands like Sex Pistols and Ramones. But many of the biggest songs of the band’s career were indebted to the sounds of power pop. The song was from Cheap Trick to The Cars to even the early days of The Beatles.

It was that sense of musicianship that Reprise Records seized upon when the band was first signed. It propelled them to stardom with the release of Dookie. The band’s initial success made them sell out in their local punk community. And Armstrong was determined to come out of the studio with a new sound.

Nimrod saw the band experimenting with non-punk styles for the first time with a swing bat behind the song ‘Hitchin’ A Ride‘. Before bringing in an entire string section for the heartbreaking ballad ‘Good Riddance‘ after lashing out in anger on their follow-up album Insomniac. Armstrong was willing to push the boundaries of his usual sound. But 2000’s Warning marked the moment when their fairweather fans started to jump off the bandwagon. They were not wanting to go along with a lack of pop-punk ragers.

In an era when Blink-182 and Sum 41 were quickly becoming household names. Armstrong knew he wanted to take a different approach with their next album. Once the masters of the supposed album Cigarettes and Valentines went missing. Armstrong wore every influence he could on his sleeve when putting together the nine-minute track ‘Jesus of Suburbia‘.

Armstrong had created one of the most progressive rock songs of the era, telling the story of a kid leaving his home for the big city, combining the sounds of classic rock with the production of a modern pop-punk song. The rest of the American Idiot was still ahead of them. However, Armstrong saw this song as the true turning point for the group.

When discussing the song, Billie Joe Armstrong admitted that it was the best-left turn they could have taken. He said, “It broke every rule.” Lyrically, it encompasses everything about my past, but it’s also written on the outside. That song is like getting rid of everything and throwing it away.”

After crossing that creative threshold, nothing was off the table for the rest of the album. Armstrong started to wear his political beliefs on his sleeve on ‘Holiday‘. He discussed his father’s loss in ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends‘. ‘Jesus of Suburbia,’ became one of the group’s biggest successes. It proved that Armstrong didn’t need a specific science behind a song to touch people’s hearts.

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