Single Review: Green Day “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Album: American Idiot
Year: 2004

In the single, “American Idiot,” Green Day set the theme for their concept album: alienation, anger about current policies, and questioning the idea of patriotism. Since then, the character, Jesus of Suburbia character was formally introduced in “Jesus of Suburbia.” By the thrid song, “Holiday,” he notices hypocriscy in how the U.S. celebrates its heroes yet exploits them at the same time.

By now, JoS is walking on his city streets alone in “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” the next single and track of the album. The road is familiar yet unknown. Although he knows where it leads back to his home in the suburbs, he isn’t sure what’s there. (“I walk a lonely road/
The only one that I have ever known/Don’t know where it goes/But it’s home to me and I walk alone”). Life is there for him, it doesn’t know which direction to take.

His city is bare, full of closed mom-and-pop stores and without any culture like art musuems. (“I walk this empty street/On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams”). People stay in and don’t have much a reason to go out. They are uninspired and disillusioned. (“Where the city sleeps and I’m the only one and I walk alone)”

By continously walking in his city, he feels like the only who is really doing something or feeling an emotion. (“I walk alone/I walk alone”) He would like someone to be with him to talk with about his confusion. Most importantly, he wishes for guidance. He has the initiative but needs someone to instill confidence in his dreams (“Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me/’Til then I walk alone”)

However, he’s starting to disbelieve in his dreams and is considering losing them. He’s at a crossroads: he can become one of the lifeless city people or try to make a difference (“I’m walking down the line/That divides me somewhere in my mind/On the border line/Of the edge and where I walk alone”)

He questions authority and everything he sees, including himself. However, he knows he doesn’t want to be among the people who have accepted the status quo. Yet, he thinks he may be turning into one of them (“Read between the lines/What’s fucked up and everything’s alright/Check my vital signs/To know I’m still alive and I walk alone’).

Green Day is at their best here. They have created a conflicted and flawed character who is at times, arrogant and bitter (“American Idiot”). However, underneath the bravado is a scared young man who has no idea where he is going in life. Even if some listeners may disagree with Green Day’s democratic views, they should at listen to the non-political tracks to hear some terrific characterization.

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