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Green Day makes album a rock opera

When Green Day’s “American Idiot” was released in September 2004, I had no idea how bad my life was about to get.
When the album first hit stores, I, like many other Green Day fans, rushed out and bought it, tore it open and actually enjoyed it on the ride home. The instrumental music itself hadn’t changed much – it was still the same simple, power-chord driven pop-punk that had won me over so many years before, but something was a little off.
On my second time through the album, I really started to pay close attention to the lyrics being preached by frontman Billy Joe Armstrong, and I knew instantly that bad things were about to happen.
Armstrong had somehow managed to capture the perfect balance of vague, meaningless, overused themes and naughty words to send teenage music fans into a Green Day frenzy of epidemic proportions.
And the worst part was, nobody saw it coming.
Before “American Idiot,” Green Day wasn’t a band with a political agenda. Obviously, the Bush administration and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had a lot to do with the tone of the album, but my point is that in the old days, you knew you weren’t going to be slapped in the face with a flagrantly political song.
That all changed with this album.
“American Idiot” had just enough anti-government, teenage angst to unite parent-hating social outcasts from all across the globe, and make life a living hell for anyone who owned a radio.
Everyone lived through the events that followed, so I won’t describe them in great detail, but “American Idiot” became impossible to escape.
It took over radio stations, music video shows, wardrobes and on one occasion that I can remember, I even saw “American Idiot” rubber wristbands being sold at a Wisconsin gas station.
However, the album eventually ran its course and the now much richer band went back to the studio to begin work on their new album, “21st Century Breakdown.”
But now, nearly five years later and just when we thought we were in the clear, it’s back.
“Rolling Stone” announced Monday that “American Idiot” will appear as a musical at California’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre this fall.
Seriously.
I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that after hearing this news, my soul broke in half.
Instantly, I pictured what the over-the-top stage will look like and the types of conversations that will spawn between the gullible, confused fans sucked into the theater to see this crime against Pete Townshend, the father of the rock opera.
I know this will not produce a huge resurgence of the album in the mainstream, but it will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and The Who’s “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia,” which were all very original ideas.
Again, people will credit Armstrong’s “insightful” views on American society and the plight of today’s teenager and again I will debate jumping in front of a moving bus.
The musical is said to contain a 19-member cast and is scheduled to open Sept. 4.
Wake me up when September ends.
D.J. Piehowski is a junior journalism major from Genoa. He is the Scout assistant sports editor.
Direct questions, comments and other responses to dpiehowski@mail.bradley.edu