Within our world of bastardized punk, here is no argument that Green Day is a legend who defined our pop punk genre. The severity of Green Day’s success is evident in our culture. In fact, their most recent tour has sold out at many venues. Tickets drifted away from eager fans quicker than they could reload their browser page. This iconic band has highlighted the feelings of our generation time and time again, but no song sticks out more than “Wake Me Up When September End”– a hit that immediately worked its way into the mainstream upon its 2004 release.
And it’s that time of year again, folks. With September coming to a close, we can expect a flood of memes and tweets with this phrase. However, do you really know the importance and relevance of this song?
This is more than saying “okay, you can wake up now!! September’s over lol…” on a tweet at the stroke of midnight in the wee hours of the morning on October 1st. This song is not a joke and it is easy for us to forget that.
“Wake Me Up When September Ends” was written by Bille Joe Armstrong and about coping with his father’s death. As the story goes, Bille returned home from his father’s funeral, crying. He isolated himself in his room and when his mother came to check on him, he said: “wake me up when September ends”.
However, another tale is told in the music video. This time, the band narrates the tale of a young couple in love and how war eventually tears them apart. He joins the military, and the rest of the video is about her not knowing if he’s alive or not, caught in constant anxiety.
So to the people who are surely going to be sharing these memes,
Neither of the stories above are for the light-hearted. At its core, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is a song about grief. So, talk about grief. Talk about the emotion behind the song. Bring to light depression, agony, loss… but don’t make a joke over a song that deserves more respect.
Coping with trauma, coping with loss, can take years to fully process. Suffering through the hardship of the month you lost your beloved is a deafening experience. Do not minimize the experiences of those suffering this year. Do not tease Billie Joe Armstrong. Identify with his pain, offer him support, offer others your support.
Do yourself a favor this year and don’t absent-mindedly reduce a song of great importance down to a careless joke. And please don’t boil a song that means so much to so many down to a lousy and highly overused meme.
Contributed by Alex West | @PresidentWestie