Jesus of Suburbia

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"Jesus of Suburbia"
Single by Green Day
from the album American Idiot
Released October 25, 2005 (2005-10-25)
Format Digital download, CD single, vinyl
Recorded June 2003
Genre Pop punk, alternative rock, progressive rock
Length 9:08 (Album version)
6:26 (Radio edit)
Label Reprise/Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Billie Joe Armstrong / Green Day
Producer(s) Rob Cavallo, Green Day
Green Day singles chronology
"Wake Me Up When September Ends"
"Jesus of Suburbia"
"The Saints Are Coming"
(with U2)

"Jesus of Suburbia" is a song by American punk rock band Green Day. It was released as the fifth and final single from their seventh studio album, American Idiot, and the second song on the album. It is Green Day's second longest song (their longest song being "Homecoming") and their longest song to be released as a single. The studio version of the song, a five movement piece, runs just over 9 minutes and 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. At most live shows on the first leg of their 21st Century Breakdown World Tour, the band would pick a member from the audience to play guitar for the song. The single has sold 205,000 copies as of July 2010.[1]


"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[2]

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."[3] Jesus of Suburbia hates his town and those close to him, so he leaves for the city.[4]

Jesus of Suburbia was the second multi-part song they formed. Armstrong said it took "a long time" to write the song. Dirnt said that it came about from natural rehearsing between the trio.[5] The song was an extension of Armstrong's desire to write the "Bohemian Rhapsody" of the future.[6]

As the song changes into different sections, Armstrong’s guitars were recorded differently.[7] The musicians would "split the signal from the guitar and sen[d] 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.[7] 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."[8] In addition to Watts, Cool pulled inspiration from Keith Moon and Alex Van Halen.[8] 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 six and a half-minute director's cut, inclusive solely of the music itself and devoid of additives. The six-minute version is censored[clarification needed], whereas the twelve-minute version is not. The video starred Lou Taylor Pucci as Jesus of Suburbia. 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 videos' notable up close shots in the convenience store and party scenes. Touring guitarist at the time Jason White appears briefly on Jesus of Suburbia's television of the performance at Milton Keynes during Part 4 (Dearly Beloved).

Live performances[edit]

It has been played at most of their concerts since its release. At many concerts on the 21st Century Breakdown World Tour they picked an audience member from the crowd to play guitar on the song.

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.[9] It was voted the greatest Green Day song of all time in a Rolling Stone readers poll in September 2012.[10] Magnet considered the song underrated, saying "Some will look at this choice and sniff, “How the hell can you call that underrated?” ... But how in the world can you call it “overrated” when 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”), acoustic mid-tempo connective tissue (“Dearly Beloved”) and an outsized, anthemic curtain call (the spectacularly good “Tales Of Another Broken Home”), all in service of a tale of bored rebellion as nuanced as Pete Townshend’s Quadrophenia and as powerful as any of Paul Westerberg’s snot-nosed teenage character studies?"[11]

Track listings[edit]

Australian single
No. Title Length
1. "Jesus of Suburbia"   9:09
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
No. Title Length
1. "Jesus of Suburbia"   9:08
2. "St. Jimmy" (Live at VH1 Storytellers in Culver City, California on February 15, 2005) 3:07
No. Title Length
1. "Jesus of Suburbia"   9:08
2. "Jesus of Suburbia" (Radio Edit) 6:28


Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Jesus of Suburbia"   9:08
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "St. Jimmy" (Live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005) 3:07
No. Title Length
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 positions[edit]

Chart (2005-07) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 24
Austrian Singles Chart 34
German Singles Chart 76
Irish Singles Chart 26
New Zealand Singles Chart 26
Swiss Singles Chart 55
UK Singles Chart[12] 17
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[13] 27


  1. ^ Grein, Paul. "Week Ending July 25, 2010: It’s Every Rapper For Himself". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 3 December 2011. Green Day fan: American Idiot (the song) has sold 1,371,000. Jesus Of Suburbia: 204K Holiday 1,452,000 
  2. ^ Newman, Melinda, Teitelman, Bram, Brandle, Lars (2004-10-09), "A Smart Start For Green Day". Billboard. 116 (41):67
  3. ^ DiPerna 2005, p. 26.
  4. ^ Spitz, p. 165
  5. ^ "International Superhits". Kerrang! (London: Bauer Media Group) (1061): 52–53. June 18, 2005. ISSN 0262-6624. 
  6. ^ Matt Hendrickson (February 24, 2005). "Green Day and the Palace of Wisdom". Rolling Stone (New York City: Wenner Media LLC) (968). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b DiPerna 2005, p. 28.
  8. ^ a b Zulaica 2004, p. 64.
  9. ^ Charaipotra, Sona (2004-09-27), "Green Day (Music)". People. 62 (13):47
  10. ^ "Readers' Poll: Green Day's Best Songs Pictures - 1. 'Jesus of Suburbia'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-02-04. 
  11. ^ "The Over/Under: Green Day". 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  12. ^ "GREEN DAY | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2013-02-04. 
  13. ^ "Green Day - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-02-04. 

External links[edit]