Billie Joe Armstrong Wrote This Iconic Green Day Song About His Father's Death

Kori Williams - Author

Oct. 1 2021, Published 2:33 p.m. ET

Green Day
Source: Getty Images

Many musicians use their art to express themselves and speak their minds. Some artists like Doja Cat are playful with their sound and approach to their craft, while others talk about more serious or personal issues in their lives.

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The band Green Day, among other things, is known for dealing with more serious topics. They have been around since 1987, and one song that has captivated fans since its release is "Wake Me Up When September Ends." The song has a personal meaning to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. But what is it?

What is the meaning behind 'Wake Me Up When September Ends'?

Billie said that "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is about how his father's death affected him when he was just 10 years old. His father died of oesophagal cancer in September 1982. On The Howard Stern Show, we learn that afterward, Billie wouldn't leave his room. When his mother encouraged him to leave it, he simply replied, "Wake me up when September ends."

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Green Day
Source: Getty Images

The song came out on Green Day's album American Idiot, released in 2004. But "Wake Me Up When September Ends" was also released as a single the following year.

"I think about him every day," Billie said on the show. "I kind of avoided writing about him for many years, and then finally had a breakthrough. It felt good. It wasn’t a negative emotion so much, but just honoring him." He also said that when huge events like that happen at such a young age, it's almost like starting life again at "year zero."

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Billie has seen all the memes about 'Wake Me Up When September Ends.'

At the end of every September like clockwork, Billie gets a flood of notifications on social media of fans telling him to wake up just like the song's title suggests. Although they all may not know the meaning behind the lyrics, it doesn't change the fact that he sees all the memes and tweets people make about it.

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"It's like when Jesus was born on December 25 people go 'Hey, it's Christmas time,'" Billie said in an interview with Vulture. "When the Easter bunny comes it's like 'Hey, it's Easter' or when September comes people go 'Hey, it's that guy in Green Day'. Have fun but get a life at the same time."

Some fans think it's cruel that people would continuously remind him of such a difficult part of his life. Over the years, they have begun to speak out against. Some remind others of what the song is about in hopes they will leave Billie alone. Others say that they can't expect everyone to know what the song is about and don't mean to be insensitive when they make the joke.

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