Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day song)

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"Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Single by Green Day
from the album American Idiot
Released November 29, 2004
Format Digital download, CD single
Recorded November 2003
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:20
Label Warner Bros/Reprise Records
Writer(s) Billie Joe Armstrong / Green Day
Producer(s) Rob Cavallo, Green Day
Certification 2x Platinum (RIAA)
Green Day singles chronology
"American Idiot"
(2004)
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
(2004)
"Holiday"
(2005)
Alternative Cover
Alternate single cover
Green Day's "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" from American Idiot

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"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is a song by American punk rock band Green Day. It was released as the second single from their seventh album, American Idiot. The song was written by Green Day, with lyrics by lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" remains one of Green Day's signature songs.

The song speaks from the point of view of American Idiot's main character, Jesus of Suburbia, and is a moderate midtempo song characterized by somber and bleak lyrics. This is in contrast to the previous track on the album, "Holiday", which illustrates Jesus of Suburbia's high of being in The City. MTV's Green Day Makes a Video described "Holiday" as a party, and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" as the subsequent hangover.

It was ranked the number one on Rolling Stone's Reader's Choice: Singles of the Decade list in 2009 and number 65 on the 100 Best Songs of the Decade list in the same year. As of 2010, it has sold 2,084,000 copies in the United States,[1] and was certified 2x Platinum. The single peaked at number two in the United States, making it Green Day's most successful song. The song was the ninth biggest selling single of the 2000-2009 decade with worldwide sales exceeding 5 million copies.[2] "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Influences[edit]

Noel Gallagher of Oasis criticized Green Day in late 2006, saying, "They should have the decency to wait until I am dead [before stealing my songs]. I, at least, pay the people I steal from that courtesy,"[3] referencing the fact that "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" uses the same chord progression as Oasis's hit single "Wonderwall". Gallagher's reaction may have partly been due to the emergence of "Boulevard of Broken Songs", a popular mash-up mixed by San Francisco DJ and producer Party Ben in late 2004. The mix consisted of elements from "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", "Wonderwall", Travis' "Writing to Reach You" and Eminem's "Sing for the Moment", which itself has samples from Aerosmith's "Dream On".

In popular culture[edit]

Covers[edit]

This song was covered by Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada acoustically with a guitar during an internet broadcast in December 2005; a video of it can be found. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is sung first and then fades into "Passion" (After the Battle version) from the Kingdom Hearts II original soundtrack.

In the 2005 VH1 Storytellers program featuring Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong stated that the title of the song was "nicked" from the famous Gottfried Helnwein painting of the same title, which features James Dean.[4] Five earlier songs also have the same title: an old Harry Warren song, a Hanoi Rocks song, a Marianne Faithfull song, a song by Brian Setzer from his 1987 album The Knife Feels Like Justice, and a Smokie song.

Lyrics from the song bear some resemblance to "I Walk Alone" by Pinhead Gunpowder, a band in which Billie Joe Armstrong also sings. It appeared on their 1997 album, Goodbye Ellston Avenue. The song also shares some lyrics with the Whitesnake song "Here I Go Again", the words "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" can be found in the lyrics of the Elvis Costello song "Brilliant Mistake", the Allman Brothers Band song "End of the Line", the Deadsy song "The Key to Gramercy Park", and The Ataris song "Road Signs and Rock Songs". The phrase "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" also appears in punk/new wave band Blondie's 1983 minor UK-hit single Island of Lost Souls and in the 1988 song "Broken Dreams" by hard rock artist Lita Ford.

A live version of the song can be found on Bullet in a Bible, the 2005 live album of Green Day performing on June 19 that year at the Milton Keynes National Bowl.

Bluegrass band Cornbread Red did a cover of the song on a tribute album to Green Day Pickin' on Green Day, while the German choir Gregorian did a cover, on their Masters of Chant Chapter V album, in the style of a Gregorian Chant.

Mark Mallman covered this song on his MP3-only compilation release Outtakes Vol 1.

The song is also featured in Green Day's musical American Idiot, sung on the cast recording by John Gallagher Jr., Rebecca Naomi Jones, and the rest of the company.

Media[edit]

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is also featured in the movie trailer of Lords of Dogtown (2005), starring Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch and John Robinson. In an episode of the MTV series When I Was 17, Ashley Fink reveals that "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was a favorite song of his. The song was sung by Dwight Shrute and Andy Bernard in the episode "Secret Santa" of the sixth season of The Office.

Composition[edit]

Boulevard of Broken Dreams is set in common time and composed in the key of F minor, like Holiday, its prelude. The opening features an electric guitar with tremolo playing the verse progression, which is a i-III-VII-IV progression (Fm-A♭-E♭-B♭). Billie Joe's vocals begin, accompanied by acoustic guitar. The bass and drums enter after the first two lines. The pre chorus features a memorable lead guitar melody before seguing into the distorted chorus. The chorus contains a VI-III-VII-i power chord progression (D♭5-A♭5-E♭5-F 5), ending on a C5 power chord vamp. The solo following the second chorus follows the verse progression while the outro follows a heavily distorted i-VI-VII-iv power chord progression (Fm-D♭-E♭-B♭5).

Music video[edit]

The award-winning music video for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", which was directed by Samuel Bayer, depicts the band members after their car has stalled in the desert, and they begin a melancholy walk down a dusty road. Scenes are interspersed with film footage, taken from around Los Angeles, of homeless people and other miserable sights. The video also features performance footage of the band playing the song in an abandoned warehouse.

The music videos for "Holiday" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" were filmed with a single, continuous storyline — the video for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" picks up where "Holiday" has left off, with the last few seconds of "Holiday" audible at the start of the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" video.

The video features a 1968 green Mercury Monterey convertible that was modified for filming in the "Holiday" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" videos. The car features a hood ornament in the shape of the hand and heart grenade image from the American Idiot album cover, which was also used in the video for "Holiday". But the "iron fist" was actually used in the video for "Walking Contradiction", when the band members meet at a car towards the end of the video. The band's name is also on the front of the hood in silver letters. The band rode this car to the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony.

As shown in an MTV Making the Video special, director Samuel Bayer used unorthodox techniques to achieve the aged look of the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" video, including using rear projection (as opposed to green screen) and physical damaging the negative: scratching the film with razor blades, pouring coffee on it, and smudging cigarettes on it.

The video of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" won six awards at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2005, most notably for Video of the Year. It also won Best Group Video, Best Rock Video, Best Direction, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography.

Reception[edit]

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was named Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 2006. The song's broad appeal was demonstrated by its performance on several Billboard singles charts: it spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart staying there for 38 weeks, 16 weeks at No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart staying for 32 weeks, 11 weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Top 40 chart staying at 44 weeks, and 4 weeks at No. 1 on the Mainstream Top 40 staying there for 26 weeks. This was the first song to top the 4 charts altogether making this song a multi-chart success. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying there for five weeks behind rapper 50 Cent's "Candy Shop". This was also the first Green Day song to reach the Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at No. 30 and though Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) didn't chart on the adult contemporary, it did chart on its recurrent chart.

In response to Hurricane Katrina and the popularity of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", Green Day donated all of the iTunes proceeds from this song for the year to the American Red Cross for Katrina aid efforts.

Single track listing[edit]

CD 1
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21
2. "Letterbomb" (live) 3:58
CD 2
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21
2. "American Idiot" (live) 4:12
3. "She's a Rebel" (live) 2:03
Card Sleeve CD
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21

7" picture disc

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Letterbomb" (live) 3:58

Live tracks were recorded on September 21, 2004 at the Irving Plaza in New York City.

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chart Watch Extra: Swift joins an Elite Club". 
  2. ^ "Biggest Selling Singles Since The Year 2000". Yahoo. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  3. ^ Goodman, Elizabeth (December 20, 2006). "Noel Gallagher Turns Loathing of Green Day Into Personal Pastime". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 16, 2008. 
  4. ^ Helnwein, Gottfried. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". [dead link]
  5. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  6. ^ "Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  7. ^ "Ultratop.be – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  8. ^ "Ultratop.be – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  9. ^ musicserver.cz: Coldplay se snažili, Čechomor ale nepoložili
  10. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Tracklisten.
  11. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/303108/green+day/chart?f=349
  12. ^ "Green Day: Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  13. ^ "Lescharts.com – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in French). Les classement single.
  14. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  15. ^ a b c "Green Day - Boulevard Of Broken Dreams". acharts.com. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Green Day search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  17. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Top 40 Singles.
  18. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". VG-lista.
  19. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Singles Top 60.
  20. ^ "Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  21. ^ a b c d e http://www.allmusic.com/artist/green-day-p69310/charts-awards/billboard-singles
  22. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/303108/green+day/chart?f=377
  23. ^ (German)"Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Boulevard%20of%20Broken%20Dreams')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  24. ^ http://www.bpi.co.uk/certified-awards.aspx
  25. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 

External links[edit]

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