Green Day’s “21 Guns” Lyrics Meaning

In “21 Guns”, Green Day use significant imagery common in war to depict the devastating state of a relationship. The first line and subsequent verses reveal how both parties are confused about continuing the conflicts or giving way to peace in their relationship.

The chorus sums up the intent of the writer. And said intent is to convince the other party to put down their weapon, stop the arguments and fight to bring back the peace they both long for, together. The writer admits that they have been overcome with the pride and pain they’ve felt as a result of their constant fights and losses. However, they have to let go of these emotions, and give up their own pride and sense of entitlement for the sake of peace.

Speaking to Q Magazine, Green Day’s Armstrong admitted that the title of this song is a reference to the customary 21-gun salute. This salute is performed in honor of a person who has fallen.

“One, twenty-one guns
Lay down your arms, give up the fight”

“21 Guns” Information

Writing: All members of Green Day
Production: Done by Green Day in association with Butch Vig
Commercial Release: 25th May, 2009
Son’g Album: The deluxe version of the band’s “21st Century Breakdown” album

How did “21 Guns” fare on the Charts?

It fared well. Actually, it is considered one of their most successful songs on the Hot 100 in America. Here, it soared to a peak position of 22.

In Europe, it also enjoyed enviable success. For example, in Poland and Iceland it took Green Day to number 1. It also gave the band a top 10 hit in Sweden. In the United Kingdom, Germany and multiple other European territories, “21 Guns” was a top 40 hit. It is also one of Green Day’s most successful single in Israel, considering it almost topped the singles chart there. It actually got to number 3 there.

Appearance on “Transformers”

This Green Day track is featured on the 2009 sequel of action film “Transformers”. It is one of the songs played at the film’s closing credits.

Did “21 Guns” win a Grammy?

No. But it received two nominations during the Grammys of 2010. One of these nominations was in the coveted “Best Rock Song” section. Here, it and others (including Pearl Jam’s “The Fixer” and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody“) fought for the award. “Use Somebody” was eventually crowned the victor.

Green Day's "21 Guns"

5 Responses

  1. Baz says:

    Stirs up so much Emotion in my 80 year old Body. Fantastic Ageless Band

  2. R says:

    Damn, Baz, I’m half your age and this makes me tremble, thinking of my ex gf who was half my age. No pun intended, but our geometric differences in age makes me think that some of our behaviors never change. I don’t know your story, but I’m filling out the blanks

  3. Adams says:

    Although I was familiar with this song before, it didn’t really catch my attention until I watched what has become one of my all-time favorite movies, Michael Bay’s 2009 science fiction film, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” Since then, it has become one of my favorite songs.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Playing Harmonix’s 2010 rhythm game, “Green Day: Rock Band,” was a game-changer for me when it comes to fully appreciating “21 Guns.” It’s amazing how the interactive experience of its play in the game can enhance your understanding of the song.

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