Green Day are one of the most influential bands of modern alternative and emo music. Led by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, they’ve written and produced so many of this generation’s anthems, and no album was quite as lauded for its impact as American Idiot.
American Idiot came out in 2004, and it included a number of now-iconic songs such as the title track, ‘Holiday’, ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’, and ‘Jesus of Suburbia’. However, American Idiot is an album wherein digging beneath the surface can actually reveal how much thought, effort, and songwriting skill actually went into it as a full contemporary masterpiece.
One of the unique details of the recording process of the album is that filmmaker John Roecker actually documented the entire project for a documentary film, eventually entitled Heart Like a Hand Grenade. Discussing the process of recording the album, Roecker said: “American Idiot was recorded in the order of the album.”
If the recording was done in album order, that makes the very last song ‘Whatsername’. Even if it isn’t one of the most popular efforts on the record, it’s undeniably a terrific track and a fantastic closing note.
In the clip of footage taken from their recording session on the song, you can actually see Billie Joe Armstrong, situated in the background as they finish up the bass part, and he is reduced to tears. He hides his face ever so slightly, but he makes no big effort to conceal the emotion that overtook him at that moment.
Commenting on that moment, Roecker continued, “This was the last song and it brings everything together. It was a very emotional time when this song got finished. It was like, ‘This is it.’ It felt like school was out and we hopefully will see each other when summer’s over. It was sad. But you have the let the baby go. You do. You can’t be that greedy, and I remember going, ‘Okay, it belongs to them now.’ But for nine months, it was just us.”
To him, it wasn’t just about closing off the song. It was about finishing the whole album, which is an extremely emotional process, not to mention for something as monumental as American Idiot.
If you want to see Billie Joe Armstrong’s reaction in the final moments of recording ‘Whatsername’, you can check out the clip down below.