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Jesus of Suburbia

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"Jesus of Suburbia"
Single by Green Day
from the album American Idiot
ReleasedNovember 14, 2005[1]
RecordedJune 2003
  • 9:08 (album version)
  • 6:26 (radio edit)
Composer(s)Green Day
Lyricist(s)Billie Joe Armstrong
Green Day singles chronology
"Wake Me Up When September Ends"
"Jesus of Suburbia"
"The Saints Are Coming"
Music video
"Jesus of Suburbia" on YouTube
"Jesus of Suburbia (Short Version)" on YouTube
"Jesus of Suburbia" on YouTube
"Jesus of Suburbia (Radio Edit) on YouTube

"Jesus of Suburbia" is a song by American rock band Green Day. It was released as the fifth and final single from the group's seventh studio album, American Idiot, and the second song on the album. With the song running for 9 minutes and 8 seconds, it is Green Day's second longest song (with the band's longest song being fellow American Idiot song "Homecoming", which runs for 9 minutes and 18 seconds) and the group's longest song to be released as a single. The studio version of the song was considered to be unfriendly for radio, so it was cut down to 6½ minutes for the radio edit. The long version was still played on many album rock and alternative rock radio stations. The single has sold 205,000 copies as of July 2010.[8] Despite its commercial success, the song is the only hit single from the American Idiot album not to be included on the band's greatest hits album God's Favorite Band.


"After you write a song like that, it was like, 'I can't turn back now.' You can't all of a sudden say, 'I want to write a normal record."

Billie Joe Armstrong, Billboard, 2004[9]

American Idiot is a concept album that describes the story of a central character named Jesus of Suburbia, an anti-hero created by Billie Joe Armstrong. It is written from the perspective of a lower-middle-class suburban American teen, raised on a diet of "soda pop and Ritalin."[10] Jesus hates his town and those close to him, so he leaves for The City.[11]

"Jesus of Suburbia" was the second multi-part song the group formed. Armstrong said it took "a long time" to write the song. Dirnt said that it came about from natural rehearsing between the trio.[12] The song was an extension of Armstrong's desire to write the "Bohemian Rhapsody" of the future.[13] Also, the opening bars of "Jesus of Suburbia," with their guitar-voice call and response structure, seem evocative of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream".

Because the song changes into different sections, Armstrong’s guitars were recorded differently.[14] The musicians would "split the signal from the guitar and send it into an amp while simultaneously going direct with it," to achieve a sound reminiscent of "Revolution" by the Beatles or the style of David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson. In addition, an overdrive pedal was employed to accentuate gain from the instrument, producing a "punchy" sound to each chord.[14] For the first two sections of the song, Cool emulated Ginger Baker and Charlie Watts, two English drummers from the 1960s. For the final three, he drums in his style: "I'm tipping my hat to all these great drummers that I love, and then I kick the door down and do it … my style."[15] In addition to Watts, Cool pulled inspiration from Keith Moon and Alex Van Halen.[15] The song was composed by Green Day (with Billie Joe Armstrong writing the lyrics), and was co-produced by Rob Cavallo.

"Jesus of Suburbia" has five movements:

  • I. "Jesus of Suburbia" (0:00 – 1:51)
  • II. "City of the Damned" (1:51 – 3:42)
  • III. "I Don't Care" (3:42 – 5:25)
  • IV. "Dearly Beloved" (5:25 – 6:30)
  • V. "Tales of Another Broken Home" (6:30 – 9:08)

Music videos[edit]

Two versions of the "Jesus of Suburbia" music video exist, directed by Samuel Bayer (who also directed the music videos for the first four singles released from the American Idiot album). The official music video premiered on October 14, 2005 in the UK and on October 25, 2005 on the MTV network for viewers in the US. One version is a 12-minute edit, complete with a plot and dialogue; the other is a nine and a half-minute director's cut, inclusive solely of the music itself and devoid of additives. The twelve-minute version is censored, whereas the nine-minute version is not. The video starred Lou Taylor Pucci as Jesus. Jesus' love interest (Whatsername) was played by Kelli Garner. Jesus' mother was portrayed by Canadian actress Deborah Kara Unger. Although Armstrong was originally tipped to provide the acting role of the main character, this was altered during pre-filming.

The plot of the video essentially follows that of the song. Despite the fact it is the second track, the video reveals Jesus' and Whatsername's relationship before it is revealed in the story. The video pays homage to "1979" by Smashing Pumpkins—it also made use of the SnorriCam which created the video's notable up-close shots in the convenience store and party scenes.

Live performances[edit]

"Jesus of Suburbia" has been played at most of the group's concerts since its release. At many concerts on the 21st Century Breakdown World Tour, the band picked an audience member from the crowd to play guitar to the song.[citation needed]

The song holds the record of the longest performance on the UK television programme Top of the Pops, at 9 minutes and 10 seconds on November 6, 2005.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Since its release, "Jesus of Suburbia" has received universal critical acclaim. People magazine called the song "epic" and a "magnificent nine-minute rock opera." It is often recognized as one of Green Day's greatest songs.[16] It was voted the greatest Green Day song of all time in a Rolling Stone readers poll in September 2012.[17] Magnet considered the song underrated, saying "the five-movement, nine-plus-minute song bobs and weaves its way through standard-issue pop punk (“Jesus Of Suburbia”), a piano-laced interlude (“City Of The Damned”), the slobbering, thundering middle section (“I Don’t Care”), [and] acoustic mid-tempo connective tissue (“Dearly Beloved”)."[7]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Track listings[edit]

Australian single
1."Jesus of Suburbia"9:10
2."Are We the Waiting" (Live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)2:57
3."St. Jimmy" (Live at VH1 Storytellers in Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)3:07
iTunes digital download
1."Jesus of Suburbia"9:10
2."St. Jimmy" (Live at VH1 Storytellers in Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)3:07
1."Jesus of Suburbia"9:10
2."Jesus of Suburbia" (Radio Edit)6:28


Side A
1."Jesus of Suburbia"9:10
Side B
1."St. Jimmy" (Live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)3:07
1."Jesus of Suburbia" (Video)11:53
2."Jesus of Suburbia" (Live Video, Live at Irving Plaza, New York City, New York on September 21, 2004)11:10
3."Bullet in a Bible" (Video Trailer)2:33


Chart (2005–07) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[18] 24
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[19] 55
Canada Rock Top 30 (Radio & Records)[20] 6
Denmark (Tracklisten)[21] 19
Germany (Official German Charts)[22] 76
Greece (IFPI)[23] 13
Ireland (IRMA)[24] 26
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[25] 26
Scotland (OCC)[26] 13
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 34
UK Singles (OCC)[28] 17
UK Rock & Metal (OCC)[29] 2
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[30] 27


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[31] Platinum 80,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Green Day play 'longest ever' Top Of The Pops song". NME. October 31, 2005. Archived from the original on June 16, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2024.
  2. ^ Blum, Jordan. "United States of Rage and Love: Green Day - "Jesus of Suburbia"". PopMatters. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  3. ^ "Top 10 Epic Punk Songs That Are Over 5 Minutes in Length". Ultimate Guitar. Archived from the original on May 6, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  4. ^ "American Idiot - Green Day". 100 Favorite Albums. Archived from the original on June 26, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  5. ^ Downs, David (September 2, 2009). "Punk Rock Opera". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on October 7, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  6. ^ Connick, Tom (May 16, 2018). "Green Day: their 15 best songs – ranked". NME. Archived from the original on April 7, 2022. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  7. ^ a b "The Over/Under: Green Day". Magnetmagazine.com. May 19, 2009. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  8. ^ Grein, Paul. "Week Ending July 25, 2010: It's Every Rapper For Himself". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2011. Green Day fan: American Idiot (the song) has sold 1,371,000. Jesus Of Suburbia: 204K Holiday 1,452,000
  9. ^ Newman, Melinda, Teitelman, Bram, Brandle, Lars (2004-10-09), "A Smart Start For Green Day". Billboard. 116 (41):67
  10. ^ DiPerna 2005, p. 26.
  11. ^ Spitz, p. 165
  12. ^ "International Superhits". Kerrang! (1061). London: Bauer Media Group: 52–53. June 18, 2005. ISSN 0262-6624.
  13. ^ Matt Hendrickson (February 24, 2005). "Green Day and the Palace of Wisdom". Rolling Stone (968). New York City: Wenner Media LLC. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  14. ^ a b DiPerna 2005, p. 28.
  15. ^ a b Zulaica 2004, p. 64.
  16. ^ Charaipotra, Sona (2004-09-27), "Green Day (Music)". People. 62 (13):47
  17. ^ "Readers' Poll: Green Day's Best Songs Pictures - 1. 'Jesus of Suburbia'". Rolling Stone. September 26, 2012. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  18. ^ "Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  19. ^ "Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  20. ^ "RR Canada Rock Top 30" (PDF). p. 59. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  21. ^ "Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia". Tracklisten.
  22. ^ "Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  23. ^ "IFPI archive". Archived from the original on March 6, 2006. Retrieved March 6, 2006.
  24. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Jesus of Suburbia". Irish Singles Chart.
  25. ^ "Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia". Top 40 Singles.
  26. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  27. ^ "Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia". Swiss Singles Chart.
  28. ^ "Green Day: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  29. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  30. ^ "Green Day Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  31. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia". Music Canada. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  32. ^ "British single certifications – Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 25, 2020.

External links[edit]