BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS
To say that I have an in-depth knowledge of punk rock would be a gross overstatement. My “knowledge” of punk rock has been acquired coincidentally, gained through accidental exposure to just a handful of songs, one of which is “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day.
Punk rock was a genre of rock music that developed in the mid-1970’s, faded in popularity, and then had a resurgence in the 1990’s. Green Day was part of this resurgence. The music of punk rock, both early and later, was characterized by a return to basics—stripped down instrumentation, hard-edged melodies, anti-establishment lyrics, and extreme simplicity of musical design. Participants—musicians and audiences alike—often adopted a certain kind of appearance—leather, spiked hair, heavy eye make-up and so on. Collectively, punk rock musicians were attempting to re-define rock music to exclude sentimentality
Boulevard of Broken Dreams was a song from 2004. I remember scoring a lot of points with one of my Sinclair classes—comprised of twenty kids in their late teens—when I mentioned my fondness for this song at some point during that school year. I was “cool” for the moment.
As all music-lovers know, your own state of mind often dictates what music you are going to listen to. I suppose this is a psychological self-affirmation of “this is the way I feel right now.” As it happens, I just found out that my car—the one involved in last week’s crash—was declared a total. The car was new, only a month old, the result of searching for exactly what I wanted until I found it. But the cost of the repair was truly eye-popping and with no guarantee that there would be no future problems. The frame had been bent… So now I’ll start the car search all over again, the financial calculating, the loan acquisition, the insurance and BMV visits, and so on.
So the grittiness of this song, the repetitive refrain, the self-pity of the lyrics—somehow this music has surfaced in my mind.
I should also say, though, that I have loved this song, for musical reasons, from the first time I heard it, when I was obviously in a fine mood.
Green Day is comprised of Billy Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool. They are a Berkeley, California band. It was with their seventh album, American Idiot, that they were really propelled to fame. They have subsequently won five Grammys, and quite a number of other honors. The stage adaptation of American Idiot—which itself is a rock opera—won two Tony Awards.
Green Day was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, 2015. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” from their American Idiot album, was the Grammy Record of the Year for 2004.