The Heartbreaking Story Behind Green Day's 'Wake Me Up When September Ends'

How Billie Joe Armstrong's personal loss gave the song emotional impact

September 1, 2020

Leaves are turning amber and orange, while winds carry a cool breeze. All signs point to September, including social media users sharing Green Day’s 2004 classic “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

Just one day into the month and users are dreading what’s ahead after a tumultuous summer of COVID-19, murder hornets, and a looming presidential election. Tying these fears to the band’s track makes sense, considering the song’s inspiration. But before you start with your memes, you should probably know the full story.

Front man Billie Joe Armstrong recently told The Howard Stern Show the title comes from words he told is his mother after his father died. Billie was just 10 years old.

“I think it’s something that just stayed with me; the month of September being that anniversary that always is just, I don’t know, kind of a bummer,” he said. “But it’s weird. When things happen like that when you’re that young, it’s almost like life starts at year zero, or something like that.”

Stern asked if the lead man still thinks about his father when performing the song. “I mean, yeah. I think about him every day,” Armstrong said. “I kind of avoided writing about him for many years and then finally having a break through like… It felt good. It wasn’t a negative emotion so much, but just honoring him.”

Billie has stayed active since the coronavirus quarantine. He recently opened up about his 48 year balancing act between career influence and family life in a new wide-ranging interview with Kerrang! The artist also tells NME he’s written six new songs during the lock down, and hopes to put the material out there as soon as possible.

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