Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told Q magazine May 2009: "That goes from a song about where I come from to what it's like to be in this era, financially. It represents an underdog spirit."
The lyric "My generation is zero/I never made it as a working class hero" references the John Lennon song "Working Class Hero," which Green Day covered for the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur compilation album in 2007. Armstrong explained to AOL that he referenced Lennon's lyric as he "mostly just liked the line." He explained: "It's the times that we live in right now. It's really hard for people to sort of manage the situation they're in, let alone get out of it as far as either be working class, middle class or poor. I think a lot of people end up having this faith-based sense of non-reality that they're gonna win the lottery or something like that. And that couldn't be further from the truth, especially right now. There's a different crisis every week; natural disasters, corporate bailouts, people losing their homes, unemployment. It's desperate times right now for a lot of people. That's sort of what that line represents to me."
Armstrong told The Sun April 24, 2009 that the album title represents the post-Bush world and the end of an era. He explained: "It's about the collateral damage with it but also the hope and optimism a lot of Americans have. It's a really strange time. Exciting, because there's the first African-American president, a smart man who wants to do a good job. A man who's inheriting the biggest pile of s--t this country has ever seen since the Depression. People are losing their jobs yet have a smile on their face, so this record is about that and the start of another era."
Armstrong told Billboard magazine that this song, "is sort of about growing up in a working-class family, and what that represents in a financial crisis and how everyone feels paralyzed and frightened right now."
The 21st Century Breakdown album debuted at #1 in 24 countries.
Maddy from Boston, MaThis song and its video is great! It used to take me to work every morning and would end when I got there. I had to take the CD out of my car for a while for fear of getting sick of it :)
Sc from Anchorage, AkLOVE this song... In Tre' Cool's cover of 'Chocolate Rain' by Tay Zonday (look it up on YouTube), Tre' accidentally sings part of this song :) lol
K from Nowhere, OnI always thought the whole "21st century breakdown" was about everybody freaking out about 2012. There's another line about the "20th century deadline" and I thought that was about Y2K. People are treating it the same way. The whole "class of '13" thing seemed like a thing to say "people, it's not going to happen."
Joshua from Cordova, AkThis song means as the lyrics say billie joe was born when nixon was president and his life was pretty much hell for him and he was raised on welfare because he was the youngest of 12 he was the last one born but the first to move out of the house and he grew up next to an oil refinery which was closed later because it was giving off chemicals which caused the students to get headaches and he never felt like he belonged in his family because he was so different from his mom who liked country music and billie joe never got a job and the only way he made money was being on tour in the early years of when he was in sweet children then it goes into the theme of the 21st century he once was lost but never was found saying that he never really had faith in religion or christianity for that matter and thinks that he is losing whats left of his mind from all the smoking pot and drugs when he was young and now he is just going crazy and then it just goes back into the 21st century breakdown theme
Lacey from Chicago, Ilgah, i love this song so much. there's so much to it and billie joe has a really good point and he always has in any of his songs. i still love the band after american idiot and all because it seems they lost alot of fans after it..i don't know why, i mean what he talks about in his lyrics and songs are so meaningful still. rock on green day.
Katie from San Angelo, TxSomeone seriously screwed up the lyrics
Jessica from Hoemaha, IcelandBillie joe was not born in 69. He was born in 1972. So he is not singing about himself, nor calling himself a bastard.
Brad from Lexington, KyThe Beatles broke up in 1970, and I doubt the reliabilty of that quote.
Kayla from Ballston Lake, NyNo, Billie Joe's wife was born in 1969, Lulu. And his older son, Joey, is in the class of '13.
Lulu from New Orleans, Lawhen i hear that line about the bastards of 1969 i always think of the Beatles. John Lennon called them "the biggest bastards on earth" (one of the few things i would have to disagree with him on) a few months after the breakup so while i'm not sure of the date that he said this it was probably in 1969 and since Green Day seems to like Lennon it's possible this was another reference. Anyone know anything for sure?
Nick from Dtown, PaI really like this album. This is my favorite song. "We are the class of, the class of '13. Born in the era of humility. We are the desperate and in the decline. Raised by the bastards of 1969." I love that part, because I am in the class of 2013 and my mom was born in 1969. Kind of ironic.
Akiva from Manhattan, Nyforgetting all the political stuff this is a great album
Matt from Houston, TxThat goes for many generation x bands. but now obama is the president. so now if obama doesn't get us out of this economic hole, they will start writing songs about him. lot of pressure
Michael from Tucson, AzThe band constantly blames Bush for everything in the world. That's crap.
But they make great music.
Matt from Houston, Txtechn ically green day is pop punk. everything before american idiot was punk but they kinda moved on from that. I haven't heard the album yet but I will take your word for it, unless you think american idiot is also "an awesome punk album". in which case I will have to see for myself.
Sarawoll from Burlington, Njit's 5-15-2009 and this was just real released today! i love green day and this song is incredibleeeeeeee!
Nick from Cairns, Australiais the album released already? i haven't heard much news about it anyway