Wake Me Up When September Ends

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"Wake Me Up When September Ends"
Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends cover.jpg
Single by Green Day
from the album American Idiot
ReleasedAugust 31, 2005
RecordedSeptember 2003
GenreAlternative rock
Length
  • 4:45 (album version)
  • 4:19 (radio edit)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Rob Cavallo
Green Day singles chronology
"Holiday"
(2005)
"Wake Me Up When September Ends"
(2005)
"Jesus of Suburbia"
(2005)
Music video
"Wake Me Up When September Ends" on YouTube
"Wake Me Up When September Ends (Short Version)" on YouTube

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" is an acoustic ballad[1] by American rock band Green Day, released on August 31, 2005, as the fourth single and eleventh track from the group's seventh studio album, American Idiot (2004). The song was written by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong about the death of his father when he was ten years old.

The song became a hit single, peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a top ten single in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and New Zealand, and was a number one single in the Czech Republic. In the United States, the song became symbolic after Hurricane Katrina, where it was dedicated to victims of the disaster, and also regarded as a dedication to the victims of the September 11 attacks that occurred in 2001. The song was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The song's music video depicts a couple broken apart by the Iraq War, which was intended to convey the song's central theme of loss.

Background[edit]

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" was written by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong about his father, who died from esophageal cancer in September 1982, when Armstrong was 10 years old.[2][3] Armstrong, at one point, dubbed the song the most autobiographical he had written to that point, considering it "therapeutic" but also difficult to perform.[4]

The song is notable in that it is largely unrelated to the storyline that runs throughout the rest of the album.[4]

Commercial performance[edit]

The single peaked at number six in the United States, becoming Green Day's second top-10 single. It also peaked at number eight in Canada and the UK, while reaching number 13 in Australia. The song was certified Gold in the United Kingdom for sales of 400,000.[5] The song ended the streak of Green Day's three consecutive number-one hits on the Modern Rock Tracks chart ("American Idiot", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", and "Holiday"), but it peaked at number two on the chart, kept from number one by Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc." The song also made it to number two on the Adult Top 40 chart and the Mainstream Top 40 chart. This was the band's most successful song in the adult contemporary market, hitting number three on the Adult Contemporary Chart and their only song to appear on that specific chart other than "Boulevard of Broken Dreams".

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" had sold 1,652,000 copies as of May 2010.[6]

Reception[edit]

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone deemed the song a sequel to the group's 1997 single "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)".[7]

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Samuel Bayer, best known for his work with Nirvana and Metallica.[8] Bayer wrote the treatment for the video, which he envisioned as a mini-movie.[4] Bayer brought the idea of an Iraq War-themed video to the trio after interviewing soldiers who had signed up to fight after being persuaded by a television advertisement. The song's music video thus attempts to "turn the machine on itself" by acting as a commercial for "free thought or peace."[9] Although it was far from the song's literal meaning, Armstrong felt it appropriate considering the song's theme of loss.[10] Bayer noted that he felt bored with predictable music videos, and wanted to produce a video that felt like a film. Consequently, he and a crew spent a month casting actors for the roles and conducted rehearsals, uncommon for music videos.[8] The clip was filmed in Los Angeles in late March 2004.[4]

The video focuses on a couple in love (played by Jamie Bell and Evan Rachel Wood).[8] The boyfriend promises never to leave his girlfriend but they later argue when the boyfriend enlists in the United States Marine Corps. The boyfriend interprets his actions as a way to show her that he loves her so much that he would put his life on the line to keep her safe. However, the girlfriend is heartbroken, as he broke his vow to never leave her. The video then shows the boyfriend in battle in Iraq being ambushed by insurgents. This scene is intercut with scenes of the girlfriend tearfully mourning in a quiet field. The video ends on this juxtaposition, emphasizing the pain and heartache of losing loved ones due to the war.

The clip prompted criticism from conservative media pundits.[11] On the subject of the clip being seen as exploitive of the war for entertainment purposes, Green Day's Mike Dirnt rejected this notion: "Rock & roll should be dangerous. […] It should be striking and stir questions, and I think that that video, at the end of the day, comes down to that core emotion of loss."[9] Bayer considered it his best production to that point, remarking, "'September' is hands down the greatest thing I've ever done."[8]

The video reached number one on Total Request Live,[10] and came in second for best video of the year in a 2005 Reader's Poll by Rolling Stone.[12]

Legacy[edit]

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" became closely associated with Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States on August 29, 2005, three days before the start of September. "Wake Me Up When September Ends" became symbolic in the aftermath; one blogger paired the song with television coverage of the disaster, creating a viral video.[13] Green Day performed the song days after the disaster on ReAct Now: Music & Relief, a benefit concert broadcast on MTV and its associated properties.[14]

A live version of the song, recorded on September 3, 2005, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, was released soon after and dedicated to the hurricane's victims.

The song was performed live with U2 guitarist The Edge in the pregame show of the Monday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons; it was the first game played in the Superdome in New Orleans after the hurricane.[15]

Annual Internet meme[edit]

Every year, between the dates of September 30 and October 1, internet memes circulate on social media, featuring captions ordering Armstrong to wake up because September has ended, a literal interpretation of the song's title. Armstrong has stated that he is uncomfortable with the memes and has joked about wanting to write a song in response called "Shut the F*** Up When October Begins".[16]

Track listing[edit]

CD 1
No.TitleLength
1."Wake Me Up When September Ends"4:45
2."Give Me Novacaine" (live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)3:38
CD 2
No.TitleLength
1."Wake Me Up When September Ends"4:45
2."Homecoming" (live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)9:24
3."Hitchin' a Ride"2:52
Australian CD
No.TitleLength
1."Wake Me Up When September Ends"4:45
2."Give Me Novacaine" (live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)3:38
3."Homecoming" (live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)9:24
Live (iTunes exclusive)
No.TitleLength
1."Wake Me Up When September Ends" (live at Foxboro, Massachusetts on September 3, 2005)5:41

7" picture disc

Side A
No.TitleLength
1."Wake Me Up When September Ends"4:45
Side B
No.TitleLength
1."Give Me Novacaine" (live at VH1 Storytellers, Culver City, California on February 15, 2005)3:38

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[53] Platinum 20,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[54] Platinum 8,000^
Italy (FIMI)[55] Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[56] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[57] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blum, Jordan (October 20, 2014). "United States of Rage and Love: Green Day – "Wake Me Up When September Ends"". PopMatters. Retrieved August 21, 2020. Structurally, the song is another acoustic guitar ballad at heart.
  2. ^ Hendrickson, Matt (February 24, 2005). "Green Day and the Palace of Wisdom". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media LLC (968). ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  3. ^ "Wake Me Up When September Ends". Song Facts. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Montgomery, James (April 19, 2005). "It's A Dark Day For Green Day In Somber 'September' Video". MTV News. MTV Networks. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  5. ^ "Certified Awards". Archived from the original on March 31, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  6. ^ "Chart Watch". Retrieved July 31, 2010.[dead link]
  7. ^ Sheffield, Rob (September 30, 2004). "Green Day: American Idiot". Rolling Stone. No. 958. New York City: Wenner Media LLC. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on March 3, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d James Montgomery (August 9, 2005). "'Teen Spirit' Director Calls Green Day Clip His Career Highlight". MTV News. New York City: MTV Networks. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Colapinto, John (November 17, 2005). "Green Day: Working Class Heroes". Rolling Stone. No. 987. New York City: Wenner Media. pp. 50–56. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Moss, Corey (August 31, 2005). "Think Green Day's 'September' Clip Is Epic? Just Wait For 'Jesus Of Suburbia'". MTV News. New York City: MTV Networks. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  11. ^ James Montgomery (April 22, 2009). "Green Day's Greatest Video Moments". MTV News. New York City: MTV Networks. Archived from the original on January 10, 2016. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  12. ^ Greene, Andy (January 11, 2006). "The 2005 Readers' Poll". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  13. ^ Boxer, Sarah (September 24, 2005). "Art of the Internet: A Protest Song, Reloaded". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Archived from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  14. ^ Moss, Corey (September 10, 2005). "Reznor, Kanye, Green Day Reflect On Disaster, Inspire Relief For MTV Special". MTV News. New York City: MTV Networks. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  15. ^ Saiidi, Uptin (September 30, 2005). "'Wake Me Up When September Ends': 10 Fun Ways To Commemorate Green Day's Hit". MTV News. New York City: MTV Networks. Archived from the original on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  16. ^ Murphy, Patricia (November 13, 2016). "'Shut the F*** Up When October Begins'- Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong on the trolls who mock his most famous song". Irish Independent. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  17. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  18. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
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  46. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 100 Singles 2005". ARIA. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  47. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 2005" (in German). Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  48. ^ "Rádiós Top 100 - hallgatottsági adatok alapján - 2005". Mahasz. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
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  53. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends". Music Canada. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  54. ^ "Guld og platin november/december/januar" (in Danish). IFPI Denmark. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015.
  55. ^ "Italian single certifications – Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved February 19, 2018. Select "Tutti gli anni" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Wake Me Up When September Ends" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  56. ^ "British single certifications – Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 1, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Wake Me Up When September Ends in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  57. ^ "American single certifications – Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 10, 2015. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]