“Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” came out as part of Green Day’s multi-platinum 2004 concept album “American Idiot”, which is centered on the life of a fictional character. However, such is not the case of this track. Rather, this song is based on events in the real life of Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of Green Day. And the subject it focuses on is the passing of his father when he was just a boy and how he has been coping with the associated emotional pain since.

And the track moves in stages, starting off when he was just 10-years old (as Billie’s father passed away in 1982). Then it transition to when he first formed his own band in his late teens. And finally it takes us “20 years” later, closer to the present day when Armstrong penned this tune. And basically, what can be concluded from the consistency of the emotions expressed throughout is that the singer has never fully gotten over the loss of his dad. 

Meaning of “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

The title of the track was derived from an emotional young Billie Joe Armstrong deciding to flee and seclude himself in his room during his father’s funeral.  And when Billie’s mom entreated him to open up, his response was reportedly “wake me up when September ends”. It’s important to mention that Billie’s dad died on 16 September.


So accordingly, this is recognized as one of the most autobiographical songs he’s ever written.  Moreover the singer is known for having a difficult (i.e. emotional) time performing the track live. So in summation, this is a grievance song which, though being based on a very-specific story, has caught on with fans due to being construed as a tribute to lost loved ones in general.

Honestly, we think the primary reason this song has become an international hit is due to its being centered on the theme of loss in general.

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" lyrics

Music Video

Part of the reason for the song’s general interpretation is that the music video itself, directed by Samuel Bayer, has a romantic theme centered on the Iraq War(and the aftermath of 9/11).

Release Date of “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

Reprise Records and Warner Bros. Records released this track on 14 September 2004.  It served as the fourth single from Green Day’s album entitled “American Idiot”.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” and Hurricane Katrina

This classic was also the de facto theme song of relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc in the United States on 29 August 2005.

Chart Performance

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 8 in Britain. Indeed the song performed well internationally, most-notably topping the Rádio Top 100 in the Czech Republic.

Writing Credits for “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

This very emotional song was written by Billie Joe Armstrong and produced by Green Day’s regular collaborator, Rob Cavallo.

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