Track by Track: “Revolution Radio”

Track by Track: “Revolution Radio”

Green Day: aka, hands down one of the best punk bands ever. These guys have inspired countless bands and are still rocking it hard 30 years later, refusing to let personal setbacks stop them from performing. The members are all in their forties and have kids my age (I’m 19, for reference), yet Green Day is as huge a name today as it was in the 90s. While their sound changed over the years, this album throws it right back to Green Day’s roots and is possibly one of my favorite Green Day albums.


Revolution Radio is Green Day’s 12th studio album, released in October 2016. Its sound is slightly different from the triple-album, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tre! (2012); this album mixes the new and old sounds of Green Day, particularly that their 90s albums and American Idiot (2004). The lyrics, written primarily by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, are “colored by his struggles with addiction and fears about our Trump-y future” (Rolling Stone Oct 2016). Revolution Radio tackles several political themes and acts as a “call to action.”

ALSO: All lyric artwork (except those for “Troubled Times”) were self-created using the FontCandy app.

1. Somewhere Now

somewhere-nowI love this track. There’s something about opening an album with a softer tone, than blasting into your traditional sound. The first lyric in particular is powerful for something that seems so simple: “I’m running late to somewhere now that I don’t want to be.” Armstrong himself has said it’s one of his “all-time favorites.” As he told Rolling Stone (Sept 2016), “It’s my favorite beginning of a record that we’ve ever had…I think it’s so relatable.” Spin describes this track as “the Who-gone-Hot Topic, a cacophonous combination of highs and lows that simultaneously mirror and detract from the song’s narrative.”

2. Bang Bang

I must say, this song was a pleasant early birthday surprise when it first was released in August. Similarly to “Having a Blast” on Dookie (which is sung through a crazed bomber’s POV), “Bang Bang” is written from the perspective of a crazy shooter, based on Elliot Rodger, the gunman behind the 2014 Isla Vista killings. Billie Joe wrote this track by getting himself into Rodger’s mindset, later telling Rolling Stone (Aug 2016) “to get into the brain of someone like that was freaky. It freaked me out.” This track is fast, angry, and 100% classic Green Day. Even the band has acknowledged that this is “the most aggressive single we’ve ever had” (Q magazine).

3. Revolution Radio

Armstrong got the idea for this song while spontaneously participating in a Black Lives Matter march a couple of years ago (Rolling Stone Sept 2016). The lyrics of the song also make me think of those of us who stand for everything “controversial”: LGBTQ rights, equal rights for all people (gender, color, race), proper/equal representation, etc. We know what needs to be done to improve all lives, to help heal the world–and they try to discredit us. We try to “legalize the truth,” but they try to make it so that “we will be seen but not be heard.”

4. Say Goodbye

This song is directly about violent events that happened over 2016, such as the various accounts of police brutality. This song is a farewell and salute to those who have died or were killed this year, an acknowledgement of the bad situations we face today, and a prayer for the future that things will one day improve. That we will be able to improve the awful situations that keep arising, to stop them completely. Honestly, I never read so into this song until I started researching for this post. I just thought it was another political-rock-Green-Day song. I definitely won’t be hearing it the same way now.

5. Outlaws

“Outlaws” is one of several tracks that gets reminiscent of the band members’ teenage punk days. You can hear the fondness in Armstrong’s voice as he sings of their crazy days, “the pride as Armstrong reflects on Green Day’s time together” (Alternative Press). What’s interesting is that this song is considered a sequel of sorts to “Christie Road” (Kerplunk), which is also about that period in Green Day history (Rolling Stone Sept 2016).

outlaws

6. Bouncing Off the Wall

The original title of this song was “Concrete Dream,” which is the first lyric in the song. Honestly, I’m glad they changed it because the original title doesn’t fit as well. It’s overall a good song, although I’m still unsure what this song is about. The sites I looked at didn’t seem to totally know either–although Alternative Press, in their review of the album, called the song “like a party in the middle of a revolt”–which is pretty spot-on!

bouncing-off-the-walls

7. Still Breathing

“Still Breathing” is hands down my favorite track. It’s just so powerful. I’ve already added it to my special playlist. Loudwire called this song “the..band’s poppiest cut from the album yet, while also being the most emotionally heavy.” Billboard described it as “packed with the kind of angst-dripping lyrical twists and turns that marks some of GD’s most beloved work” and I will 100% agree that while the song is not traditional Green Day sound, the core of it is still classic Green Day.

8. Youngblood

I love how this song has lyrics reminiscent of “She’s a Rebel” (American Idiot). The arrangement of the lyrics and the music is so similar between the two tracks and it’s so cool. This track also seems reminiscent the character Whatshername in the Green Day musical American Idiot. “Youngblood” is one of several songs Armstrong has written about his wife Adrienne, who he’s said is “easy to write about because she’s so awesome” (Rolling Stone Sept 2016).

9. Too Dumb to Die

too-dumb-to-die“Too Dumb to Die” is meant to be autobiographical of Armstrong’s teenage years. As he put it, this song is “about growing up totally working class and not knowing what the future was going to be” (Rolling Stone Aug 2016). Armstrong also references his father in the song, whom he remembers as constantly picketing for things that, to Armstrong, never seemed to change. There’s one lyric in this song, “lost somewhere over the rainbow,” that can be either a reference to the song from The Wizard of Oz, and to Billie Joe’s own bisexuality (as the colors of the LGBTQ flag are a rainbow).

10. Troubled Times

This particular track hits pretty close to home right about now. It’s a “pretty fitting song for the last days of the election cycle. And maybe, for what comes after” (radio.com). Armstrong wrote this song out of his fears for the American future, what with Trump getting elected in as president. He told Rolling Stone (Sept 2016) that “I wish saying ‘we live in troubled times’ was a cliché, but it’s not.” The fact that he had to say this makes me sad…as do the opening lyrics (below).

11. Forever Now

forever-now“Forever Now” is the longest track on Revolution Radio. Rolling Stone (Sept 2016) titled it “the album’s most ambitious track.” When it comes to sound, “Forever Now” constantly changes. It reprises a bit of “Somewhere Now,” and sounds almost as if it were several songs blended into one. That detail alone makes me think of “Jesus of Suburbia.

12. Ordinary World

This song is so un-Green Day, I love it. It makes me think of “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” because it is also a stripped-down, acoustic track with down-to-earth lyrics. “Ordinary World” was initially written for the movie Armstrong starred in of the same title, about an aging rocker. Armstrong liked this song so much that he decided to include it on his band’s album as well (Rolling Stone Sept 2016).


I hope you all enjoyed today’s Track by Track! If you have any particular albums you want to see dissected and interpreted, leave a comment below! And please give this blog a follow to keep up for future updates, or follow me on social media to find out when I post new blogs!


Sources:

Rolling Stone:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/green-day-older-wiser-mad-as-hell-in-revolution-radio-w443594

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/green-days-revolution-radio-a-track-by-track-guide-w441350

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/billie-joe-armstrong-on-green-days-topical-new-lp-w433483

Genius.com: http://genius.com/albums/Green-day/Revolution-radio

Spin: http://www.spin.com/2016/10/review-green-day-revolution-radio/

Pitchfork.com: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/22474-green-day-revolution-radio/

Alternative Press:  http://www.altpress.com/reviews/entry/review_green_day_revolution_radio

 

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