Meaning American Idiot by Green Day & The Story

The composition American Idiot opens the album of the same name by Green Day. Recall that we are talking about a rock opera that tells about the wanderings of the fictional character Jesus from the suburbs, who left his hometown because he hated its customs and inhabitants.

The story behind and meaning of the song American Idiot – Green Day

In the lyrics of the song, Billie Joe Armstrong criticizes the state of society in the US in the mid-2000s. He is outraged that the media, acting to please the government, manipulate people. They turn them into “American idiots”, ready to accept any opinion that will be imposed on them.

Armstrong was inspired by the song That’s How I Like It by Lynyrd Skynyrd. He heard it while driving in the car. He later recalled:

It was like, “I’m proud to be a redneck,” and I was like, “Oh my God, how can you be so proud?” I’m just against all this.

Q, 2009

It is important to understand what Billy meant by the word “hillbilly”. In the original, he used the word “redneck”, which in English is disparagingly called the inhabitants of remote towns or farmers, usually from the southern states. These are conservative guys who have little interest in politics, despise black people and are wary of anyone who holds other views.

Release and achievements

American Idiot was released as the first single from the self-titled album, which reached number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100. In other countries, the composition’s success was much higher: the third position in the UK, the first places in Canada and New Zealand, the seventh line in Australia.

Considering that the song was released in 2004, at the height of George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, many thought that the name American Idiot alluded to him. Naturally, this caused discontent among many supporters of the politician. Green Day participants were accused of lack of patriotism and other deadly sins for every “real” American.

Billy commented on the rising hysteria:

He [альбом] about not understanding where we are right now. My education was punk rock: what the Dead Kennedys said, what Operation Ivy said. He attacked America, but at the same time he was American.

Spin, 2004

However, in 2005, American Idiot was nominated for a Grammy in four nominations, although it did not receive a single award (unlike the album, which was recognized as the best in the Best Rock Album category). Rolling Stone magazine included it in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Video of American Idiot

The music video for the song was directed by Samuel Bayer. Below you can watch online the official video of American Idiot by Green Day.

Interesting Facts

  • Although the word “media” is clearly heard in the second line of the song, the word “mania” is printed on the booklet for the American Idiot album.
  • In 2006, Green Day was sued by a vendor who claimed that he had composed all the songs on the album back in the early nineties. He did not have evidence of this version, and the accusation was based on the fact that the lyrics on the cover did not coincide in places with the words performed by the vocalist.

American Idiot Lyrics by Green Day

Don’t want to be an American idiot
Don’t want a nation under the new media
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind-fuck America

Welcome to a new kind of tension
All across the alien nation
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
TV dreams of tomorrow
We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow
For that’s enough to argue

Well maybe I’m the idiot America
I’m not a part of a redneck agenda
Now everybody do the propaganda
And sing along to the age of paranoia

Don’t want to be an American idiot
One nation controlled by the media
Information Age of hysteria
It’s calling out to idiot America

Lyrics American Idiot by Green Day Alternate

I don’t want to be an American idiot
I don’t want the new media to rule the nation
Do you hear hysterical voices?
Brainwashing America on the subconscious

Welcome to a new kind of tension
All over the nation of foreigners
Where everything can’t be alright
TV dreams of tomorrow
We are not the ones to follow
And stop arguing about it.

Well, maybe I’m from idiot America,
I don’t go to hillbilly meetings
Everybody’s doing propaganda now
And sing along to a paranoid generation

I don’t want to be an American idiot
The whole nation is controlled by the media
Information age of hysteria
Calls out to stupid America

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