Tom Morello Responds to Conservatives Having Meltdown Over Green Day’s Updated “American Idiot” Lyrics

Despite Green Day having been a very vocal punk band for more than three decades now, some conservatives apparently missed the memo.

tom morello and billie joe armstrong are pictured
Images via Getty/Michael Loccisano / WireImage & Getty/Chris Willard/Disney
tom morello and billie joe armstrong are pictured

Nearly 20 years and four presidencies later, Green Day’s “American Idiot” is still decidedly relevant.

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong altered the lyrics in “American Idiot” to sing, “I’m not a part of the MAGA agenda,” during the band’s performance on Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

— CONSEQUENCE (@consequence) January 1, 2024

During the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees’ recent performance on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong changed a line in the title track to the band’s classic 2004 album to reference his desire to not be "part of a MAGA agenda.” As fellow longtime fans of the punk trio will note, the original lyric, taken from the song's second verse, goes like this:

"I'm not a part of a redneck agenda"

Billie Joe's timely tweak was followed by present-day American idiots publicly expressing shock and anger, performatively or otherwise. Quickly, such chatter found itself the subject of a Fox News segment, ultimately spurring a response from Rage Against the Machine co-founder Tom Morello.

"Is that so?" Morello said in response to a clip of talking heads struggling to grasp that nearly all art, not to mention nearly all artists, are inherently against so-called conservative ideologies.

Of course, this is far from the first time Morello has been inspired to speak out about such rhetoric. Back in 2012, for example, he penned an op-ed against Republican Paul Ryan, who quite famously missed the entire message of RATM.

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To be clear, Green Day—also featuring Mike Dirnt on bass and Tre Cool on drums—made their thoughts on the erosive nature of Americanism quite clear from the very beginning of their career.

During their initial mainstream rise after the release of their 1994 album Dookie, another classic, Billie Joe and company made a point to take the openly gay band Pansy Division on the road with them. In an interview at the time, Billie Joe reflected on the importance of supporting the pioneering queercore group, saying PD was "the kind of band that saves people's lives."

A decade later, Green Day released American Idiot, an acclaimed concept album that gave the band their second milestone release while also giving voice to those who felt alienated by the George W. Bush administration and post-9/11 hysteria. While the title track and fellow single "Holiday" worked well within the larger story of the rock opera and eventual Broadway musical, both songs also served as indictments of mid-2000s USA.

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The American Idiot era also saw the band participating in the Rock Against Bush campaign, an effort started by NOFX frontman and Fat Wreck Chords co-founder Fat Mike with the aim of keeping Bush out of the White House for a second term. The campaign resulted in the release of two ubiquitous punk comps featuring songs from Green Day, Yellowcard, Alkaline Trio, New Found Glory, and more. Green Day's included song, "Favorite Son," was inspired by Bush's failures as a POTUS.

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But these are far from the only examples of Green Day taking a stand through their art throughout their 36-year career. During a televised performance of their Revolution Radio single “Bang Bang” in 2016, Bille Joe added in an MDC-inspired "No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” chant. 

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The NYE tweak of “American Idiot” isn’t even the first time that particular song has been given a live update from Billie Joe. The songwriter made the same lyrical change during the band’s iHeartRadio Festival performance in 2019, as seen below. This also isn't the first instance of the band engaging in some delicious Trump mockery, as just last year they released a Nimrod-referencing charity shirt featuring the one-term POTUS' mugshot.

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This month, Green Day will release SAVIORS, their 14th studio album. The 15-track project’s lead single, fittingly, sees Billie Joe pondering death at the hands of the American dream. Presumably, we can expect thickheaded dolts to get pissed about the track's lyrics in about 20 years.

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In unfortunate Rage Against the Machine news delivered Wednesday, drummer Brad Wilk announced the band is ceasing activities and thanked "every person who has ever supported us."

The 55-year-old opened an Instagram post, "I know a lot of people are waiting for us to announce new tour dates for all the canceled RATM shows. I don't want to string people or myself along any further. So while there has been some communication that this may be happening in the future... I want to let you know that RATM (Tim, Zack, Tom and I) will not be touring or playing live again. I'm sorry for those of you who have been waiting for this to happen. I really wish it was..."

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