"Song of the Century" as written by Billie Joe Armstrong, Frank E. Wright and Michael Pritchard....
Sing us a song of the century
That's louder than bombs
And eternity
The era of static and contraband
That's leading us into the promised land
Tell us a story that's by candlelight
Waging a war and losing the fight

They're playing the song of the century
Of panic and promise and prosperity
Tell me a story into that goodnight
Sing us a song for me


Lyrics submitted by bfg1024

"Song of the Century" as written by Frank E. Billie Joe Armstrong

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Song of the Century song meanings
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  • +2
    My InterpretationAlright everyone, ready for a crapload of stuff? You better be, because....incoming!

    Just recently, I bought this album (21st Century Breakdown) and have been attempting to decipher it. I decided to write it here, hopefully to help myself fill in any discrepancies, and maybe even help a few of you!

    21st Century Breakdown is what I like to call a "loose rock opera". In other words, it has a storyline in which all the songs co-exist, but is not quite as structured as, say American Idiot. This basically just means that the imagery or physical side of the story is subject to change depending on the person listening. For instance; through interviews with the band, I've found that the characters Gloria and Christian are not really lovers, however, I can see how they can easily be mistaken for that. That's the fabulous part of music, it can mean whatever you want it to mean!

    1. Song of the Century~This one kind of gives a sneak peak into the album and sets the mood.

    2. 21st Century Breakdown~I believe that this one introduces the character Christian, who is becoming an adult and starting to form his own beliefs. He is a little bitter about his childhood: raised in a sucky town by sucky parents with a sucky looking future. He also knows what he doesn't want to be, which is anything like his parents' generation. He want to do something meaningful and profound rather being part of the "working class".

    3. Know Your Enemy~Christian continues developing his opinions. He becomes very independent and confrontational. He decides who his enemies are.

    4. ¡Viva La Gloria!~Christian meets a character named Gloria, who (is religious maybe?) has her own set of beliefs, which are very different from his. She is very pure of heart, and wants peace and equality. Christian tries to convince her to join his point of view by telling what she could have.

    5. Before the Lobotomy~This one is from Gloria's point of view. After meeting Christian, her eyes are opened to the changing world that seems to be becoming increasingly cynical and harsh. She reflects on the days when things were simpler and anarchy wasn't as prominent, and contemplates the coming generation's condition.

    6. Christian's Inferno~ Christian becomes increasingly angry and leaves. He goes off to find people to join him.

    7. Last Night On Earth~Even through all the struggle she faces, Gloria knows that the one thing on earth that will always be sacred is love. If all else fails, she sends her heart to the person she loves.

    8. East Jesus Nowhere~Preaching to and rallying people, Christian mocks religion and saying "God is nowhere to be found".

    9. Peacemaker~Christian and his followers hit the streets to actually make something happen. They set out to take down the peacemakers.

    10. Last of the American Girls~Gloria begins to settle back into a normal life. She finds her place and who she wants to be. She is paving her own road while still trying to be a good person.

    11. Murder City~Gloria begins to see the influence Christian's ideas are having on people, because she is finding them all over the place. She desperately wants to help, but can't seem to figure out how.

    12. ¿Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)~In her attempts to help, Gloria meets Christian yet again. Christian waves her away, basically saying that her cause if lost and it's useless to fight. He also points out that she isn't perfect, trying to convince her that she's a sinner just like everyone else.

    13. Restless Heart Syndrome~Gloria is knocked down at first by Christian's comments on her mistakes, but reminds him that what comes around goes around; she repented for her sins, but his are going to come bite him in the a@#. She adds the last jab "know your enemy", and leaves him to deal with his own consequences.

    14. Horseshoes and Handgrenades~Christian is taken aback by the strength Gloria's comeback. Pushing away any guilt he may feel deep down, he attempts to make an even stronger resolve in his mission, but he can't help but wonder about what she said.

    15. The Static Age~Gloria can still see all the world's imperfections, but throws her hands up and just doesn't care. Daily life has become so cluttered with corporation crap that it's almost amusing. She's given up on trying to change the world and is living her life the way she wants to.

    16. 21 Guns~Things just keep going down hill for Christian. Nothing turned out like he wanted it to and he eventually gives up. He looks back on all he's done and wonders if it was all worth it, realizing that he'll never be honored (hence the 21 gun salute).

    17. American Eulogy~Christian and Gloria watch as America spirals downwards, and eventually crashes and burns. And then it all starts over again. People want change once more. Both characters learn that it's a vicious cycle.

    18. See the light~A final proclamation of all anyone wants from life: to see the light, to learn and find some way to end up where we want to go.

    The End! :)

    Yup, there we are. That took way longer than I thought it would, but I think I finally figured it out somewhat.
    In the end, I find that Christian and Gloria simply represent two different roads going the same way (ie-1.They are both finding what they believe in 2. They find it and are on the top of their game 3. They are both called to action 4. They are knocked down but stand by their beliefs 5. They give up on the world 6. In the end, they just wanted the same thing). Soo..yeah.
    unillamaon June 15, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat intro to the cd, has a kind of kids gathering around their grandpa for a story feel to it. Definitely builds your anticipation and flows well into 21st Century Breakdown. From what i can tell the two verses seem to be divided into a Bush-Obama style each verse summarizes what's come about so far in each of their presidencies. I'm doubt this is really what its about since the music was most likely finished before Obama became president but, hell, it fits.
    SouthernPunk777on May 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me, Song of the Century is like its supposed to be, the opening track. It's like the intro to a movie before the title appears on the screen. It paints a picture that they want to convey in the album.

    Basically, there's war that has been going on for what seems like a lifetime, propaganda is common and no one does anything about illegal acts anymore. All that's left is people becoming afraid and even a bit selfish.

    This is setting our stage of America, the America that truly is what this song portrays it. And it's a bit scary on how accurate it is.
    FlyingNikkyon July 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionAww. This is such a great intro to the CD. I agree with you, SouthernPunk. When I heard it, I kind of imagined a little kid kicking his legs over the side of a dock or something. Billie Joe's voice is so cute. xD
    kharyson May 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that the world is listening with high expectations (and some with arms folded skeptically) to this album. Let's be honest, American Idiot shocked a lot of people that Green Day was more than a bunch of snot-nosed garage band punks.

    And yes, it's also a great table-setter for 21st Century Breakdown, letting the listener know this will be in the same vein as the previous album, another poignant social commentary on the modern American landscape.

    What really catches my ear is the last line, "sing us a song, FOR ME". Just as Jesus and Jimmy before, selfishness and self-delusionment is going to play a role in this story, although the characters seem to be a bit more figurative than before.

    I'm going off first listen for now, maybe more to come...
    davidecoyoteon May 17, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a great intro to this cd. Damn people that don't like it need to shut the hell up!
    greendayfan4everon May 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so short but somewhat touching! I can't get it off of my head
    MangaChick777on May 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, its short because its an intro not a full song.
    deliiroaron June 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI imagine the younger generation gathering around to hear this new "Song of the Century," with high expectations for it to take them away from "bombs and eternity." It's setting up the album and building anticipation. Like a prolouge. Or an epilouge, if you wanna go that way. An epilouge for the 20th century, because you can't have a song of a century that's just begining.
    SongOfSomeCenturyon June 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI could probably listen to this intro over and over again because it seems sort of soothing to me. That might just be me though.
    EyesOfNighton September 14, 2009   Link

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