Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day song)

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Single by Green Day
from the album American Idiot
Released November 29, 2004
Recorded November 2003
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:20
Green Day singles chronology
"American Idiot"
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Alternative cover
Alternate single cover

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is a song by American punk rock band Green Day, recorded for their seventh studio album American Idiot (2004). Reprise Records released "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" as the second single from American Idiot. The song's lyrics were written by lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, and composed by the band. Production was handled by Rob Cavallo and Green Day. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" remains one of Green Day's signature songs.

The song speaks from the point of view of American Idiot's main character, Jesus of Suburbia, and is a moderate midtempo song characterized by somber and bleak lyrics. This is in contrast to the previous track on the album, "Holiday", which illustrates Jesus of Suburbia's high of being in The City. MTV's Green Day Makes a Video described "Holiday" as a party, and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" as the subsequent hangover.

The song was ranked the number one on Rolling Stone's Reader's Choice: Singles of the Decade list in 2009 and number 65 on the 100 Best Songs of the Decade list in the same year. It has sold over 2 million copies in the United States as of 2010.[1] The single peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Green Day's most successful song in the United States. The song was the ninth-highest-selling single of the 2000–2009 decade with worldwide sales exceeding 5 million copies.[2] "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.


"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was written during a respite from pre-production on what would become the band's seventh album, American Idiot. Hoping to clear his head and develop new ideas for songs, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong traveled to New York City alone for a few weeks, renting a small loft in the East Village of Manhattan.[3] He spent much of this time taking long walks and participating in jam sessions in the basement of Hi-Fi, a bar in Manhattan.[4] He began socializing with songwriters Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin.[5]

Armstrong wrote the song about his time in New York City, about "feeling alone" and trying to take power from that fact.[6] Armstrong felt the song fit nicely with the album's storyline, which is about "going away and getting the hell out, while at the same time fighting their own inner demons."[5] The song's title is from a James Dean poster in which he is walking through New York with an overcoat on.[6]


"Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" from American Idiot.

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"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is set in common time and composed in the key of F minor, like "Holiday", its prelude. The opening features an electric guitar with tremolo playing the verse progression, which is a i–III–VII–IV progression (Fm–A♭–E♭–B♭). The song's distinct tremolo effect on the opening guitar was achieved by digitally manipulating the recording in ProTools. It was difficult to produce, as it needed to remain in sync with the song's tempo.[7] Armstrong added tracks of acoustic guitar-playing to augment his electric guitar rhythms and Cool's drumming.[8] Billie Joe's vocals begin, accompanied by acoustic guitar. The bass and drums enter after the first two lines. The pre chorus features a memorable lead guitar melody before seguing into the distorted chorus. The chorus contains a VI–III–VII–i power chord progression (D♭5–A♭5–E♭5–Fm 5), ending on a C5 power chord vamp. The solo following the second chorus follows the verse progression while the outro follows a heavily distorted i–VI–VII–iv power chord progression (Fm–D♭–E♭–B♭5–A♭–C).

Critical reception

Noel Gallagher of Oasis criticized Green Day in late 2006, saying, "They should have the decency to wait until I am dead [before stealing my songs]. I, at least, pay the people I steal from that courtesy,"[9] referencing the fact that "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" uses the same chord progression as Oasis's hit single "Wonderwall". Gallagher's reaction may have partly been due to the emergence of "Boulevard of Broken Songs", a popular mash-up mixed by San Francisco DJ and producer Party Ben in late 2004. The mix consisted of elements from "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", "Wonderwall", Travis' "Writing to Reach You" and Eminem's "Sing for the Moment", which itself has samples from Aerosmith's "Dream On".

In response to Hurricane Katrina and the popularity of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", Green Day donated all of the iTunes proceeds from this song for the year to the American Red Cross for Katrina aid efforts.

Commercial performance

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was named Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 2006. The song's broad appeal was demonstrated by its performance on several Billboard singles charts: it spent 14 weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart staying there for 38 weeks, 16 weeks at number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart staying for 32 weeks, 11 weeks at number one on the Adult Top 40 chart staying at 44 weeks, and 4 weeks at number one on the Mainstream Top 40 staying there for 26 weeks. This was the first song to top the 4 charts altogether making this song a multi-chart success. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, staying there for five weeks behind 50 Cent's "Candy Shop". This was also the first Green Day song to reach the Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at number 30 and though "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" didn't chart on the Adult Contemporary, it did chart on its recurrent chart.

Music video

The award-winning music video for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was directed by Samuel Bayer. The music videos for "Holiday" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" were filmed with a single, continuous storyline—the video for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" picks up where "Holiday" has left off, with the last few seconds of "Holiday" audible at the start of the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" video. The video depicts the band members after their car has stalled in the desert, and they begin a melancholy walk down a dusty road. Scenes are interspersed with film footage, taken from around Los Angeles, of homeless people and other miserable sights. The video also features performance footage of the band playing the song in an abandoned warehouse.

The video features a 1968 green Mercury Monterey convertible that was modified for filming in the "Holiday" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" videos. The car features a hood ornament in the shape of the hand and heart grenade image from the American Idiot album cover, which was also used in the video for "Holiday". But the "iron fist" was actually used in the video for "Walking Contradiction", when the band members meet at a car towards the end of the video. The band's name is also on the front of the hood in silver letters. The band rode this car to the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony. As shown in an MTV Making the Video special, Bayer used unorthodox techniques to achieve the aged look of the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" video, including using rear projection (as opposed to green screen) and physical damaging the negative: scratching the film with razor blades, pouring coffee on it, and smudging cigarettes on it.

The video won six awards at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2005, most notably for Video of the Year. It also won Best Group Video, Best Rock Video, Best Direction, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography.

Track listing

CD 1
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21
2. "Letterbomb" (live) 3:58
CD 2
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21
2. "American Idiot" (live) 4:12
3. "She's a Rebel" (live) 2:03
Card Sleeve CD
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21
2. "Letterbomb" (live) 3:57

7" picture disc

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"   4:21
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Letterbomb" (live) 3:58

In popular culture


This song was covered by Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada acoustically with a guitar during an internet broadcast in December 2005; a video of it can be found. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is sung first and then fades into "Passion" (After the Battle version) from the Kingdom Hearts II original soundtrack.

A Gottfried Helnwein painting titled "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" features James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and other celebrities, and is a spoof of the famous Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks. In the 2005 VH1 Storytellers program featuring Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong stated that the title of the song was "nicked" from Helnwein's painting; however, Armstrong was apparently referring to a different Helnwein painting featuring James Dean.[10][11]

A live version of the song can be found on Bullet in a Bible, the 2005 live album of Green Day performing on June 19 that year at the Milton Keynes National Bowl.

Bluegrass band Cornbread Red did a cover of the song on a tribute album to Green Day Pickin' on Green Day, while the German choir Gregorian did a cover, on their Masters of Chant Chapter V album, in the style of a Gregorian Chant.

Mark Mallman covered this song on his MP3-only compilation release Outtakes Vol 1.

The song is also featured in Green Day's musical American Idiot, sung on the cast recording by John Gallagher Jr., Rebecca Naomi Jones, and the rest of the company.


"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is also featured in the movie trailer of Lords of Dogtown (2005), starring Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch and John Robinson. In an episode of the MTV series When I Was 17, Ashley Fink reveals that "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was a favorite song of hers. The song was sung by Dwight Shrute and Andy Bernard in the episode "Secret Santa" of the sixth season of The Office.

Charts and certifications

Chart (2004–05) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[12] 5
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 8
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[14] 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[15] 3
Czech Republic (IFPI)[16] 1
Denmark (Tracklisten)[17] 8
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[18] 16
France (SNEP)[19] 19
Germany (Official German Charts)[20] 13
Ireland (IRMA)[21] 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[22] 34
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[23] 5
Norway (VG-lista)[24] 4
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[25] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[26] 12
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[27] 2
US Billboard Pop 100[28] 1
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[29] 1
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[30] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[31] 30
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[32] 1
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[33] 1

Year-end charts

Chart (2004) Position
UK Singles Chart[34] 99
Chart (2005) Position
Australian Singles Chart[35] 31
Austrian Singles Chart[36] 36
European Hot 100 Singles[37] 26
Hungarian Airplay Chart[38] 4
Swedish Singles Chart[39] 24
Swiss Singles Chart[40] 54
UK Singles Chart[41] 88
US Billboard Hot 100[42] 7


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[43] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[44] Platinum 80,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[45] Gold 7,500^
Germany (BVMI)[46] Gold 150,000^
Italy (FIMI)[47] Gold 25,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[48] Silver 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[49] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. Grein, Paul (January 20, 2010). "Chart Watch: Week Ending Jan. 17, 2010: 21 Million Lady Gaga Fans Can't Be Wrong". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
  2. "Biggest Selling Singles Since The Year 2000". Yahoo. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
  3. Spitz, 2006. pg. 150
  4. Spitz, 2006. pg. 151
  5. 1 2 Winwood 2010, p. 50.
  6. 1 2 "International Superhits". Kerrang!. London: Bauer Media Group (1061): 52–53. June 18, 2005. ISSN 0262-6624.
  7. DiPerna 2005, p. 29.
  8. DiPerna 2005, p. 28.
  9. Goodman, Elizabeth (December 20, 2006). "Noel Gallagher Turns Loathing of Green Day Into Personal Pastime". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 17, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  10. Helnwein, Gottfried. "Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | Helnwein's Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  11. "'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams' by Green Day". Songfacts. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  12. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  13. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  14. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  15. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  16. Coldplay se snažili, Čechomor ale nepoložili
  17. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Tracklisten.
  18. "Green Day: Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  19. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in French). Les classement single.
  20. " – Green Day Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  21. 1 2 "Green Day - Boulevard Of Broken Dreams". Retrieved July 15, 2010.
  22. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Green Day search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  23. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Top 40 Singles.
  24. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". VG-lista.
  25. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Singles Top 100.
  26. " – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Swiss Singles Chart.
  27. "Green Day – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Green Day.
  28. Green Day at AllMusic
  29. "Green Day – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Green Day.
  30. "Green Day – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Green Day.
  31. "Green Day – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Green Day.
  32. "Green Day – Chart history" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Green Day.
  33. "Green Day – Chart history" Billboard Pop Songs for Green Day.
  34. "UK Year-End Chart 2004" (pdf). The Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  35. "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 100 Singles 2005". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  36. "Austrian Year-end singles for 2005" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  37. "Year End European Hot 100 Singles Chart 2005 01 – 2005 52" (PDF). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  38. "Mahasz Rádiós TOP 100 2005" (in Hungarian). Association of Hungarian Record Companies. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  39. "Årslista Singlar – År 2005" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  40. "Swiss Year-end singles chart for 2006". Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  41. "UK Year-End Chart 2005" (pdf). The Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  42. "Billboard – End Of Year Charts – Top 100 Singles 2005". Billboard. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  43. "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2005 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  44. "Canadian single certifications – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Music Canada.
  45. "Guld og platin november/december/januar" (in Danish). IFPI Denmark. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015.
  46. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Green Day; 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  47. "Italian single certifications – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Green Day in the field Filtra. Select 2016 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  48. "British single certifications – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Boulevard of Broken Dreams in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  49. "American single certifications – Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links

Preceded by
"Pain" by Jimmy Eat World
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
December 11, 2004 – March 26, 2005
Succeeded by
"E-Pro" by Beck
Preceded by
"Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)" by Chevelle
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single
January 1 – April 2, 2005
Succeeded by
"Be Yourself" by Audioslave
Preceded by
"Give a Little Bit" by Goo Goo Dolls
Billboard Adult Top 40 number-one single
February 26 – May 7, 2005
Succeeded by
"Lonely No More" by Rob Thomas
Preceded by
"1,2 Step" by Ciara featuring Missy Elliott
Billboard Mainstream Top 40 number-one single
March 5–26, 2005
Succeeded by
"Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson
Preceded by
"1, 2 Step" by Ciara
Billboard Pop 100 number-one single
February 19 – March 19, 2005
Succeeded by
"Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson
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