September 1, 2022

Wake Me Up When September Ends – The story behind the song


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One of the greatest hit songs from punk-rock band Green Day ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ that was included in their 7th album ‘American Idiot’ in 2004 is turning 18 years this month, but this song not only has a great music composition and lyrics, it also has a very deep and emotional background for those who don’t know.

The Meaning Behind The Song

It was during the month of September of 1982 when Billie Joe Armstrong’s dad, singer of the band, sadly passed away due to cancer when Billie was only 10 years old.

Armstrong  attended the funeral services, but, he wasn’t able to control his emotions. He cried and ran out of the funeral to his home where he locked himself in his room.

When his mother got home and knocked on the door of his room, he told her, “Wake me up when September ends” coming up with the title of what would become on of the band’s biggest songs.

In an interview at the Howard Stern Show, Armstrong mentioned the lyrics were actually inspired by the grief he now feels every time during that month.

Stern asked Armstrong if he ever thinks about his father when performing or hearing the song. “I think about him every day, really. I kinda avoided writing about him for many years, and then finally having a breakthrough like that felt good. It wasn’t like a negative emotion so much, but it was just kind of like honoring him.” 

“I think it’s something that just stayed with me; the month of September being that anniversary that always is just, I don’t know, kind of a bummer” Armstrong told Stern.

Green Day - Photo: Nacho DelaGarza

The Video

The music video was directed by Samuel Bayer, best known for his work with other great bands such as Nirvana and MetallicaBayer wrote the idea for the video, which he envisioned as a mini-movie.

Bayer wrote the treatment for the video after interviewing soldiers who had signed up to fight after being persuaded by a television advertisement. He claims the music video was an attempt to “turn the machine on itself” by acting as a commercial for “free thought of peace.”

As of today, the video has more than 198 million views.

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