By far, the biggest hit off American Idiot has been “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” which is also their most successful single to date. Characterized by dark and moody lyrics, Green Day speak from the point of view of “Jesus of Suburbia,” describing his loneliness after arriving at “The City.” He realizes that he has been walking the only road he has ever known, alone with nothing but his shadow besides him. Wishing that someday somebody will find him, until then he will walk alone, prompting him to bemoan, “I walk this empty street, on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, where the city sleeps, and I’m the only one and I walk alone...”
The video, which won six of those VMAs, features a beat-up, old car at the beginning. It’s corroded and seems to have seen its better days, and sets the tone for the video. The car, which was also featured throughout the “Holiday” video, has since made a cameo at the VMAs and has been distinctly linked to the band.
So, where did this car come from? Talk about an extreme makeover; like Dr. Frankenstein’s famous monster, the 1968 Mercury Monterey conversion went from being in ruins to a pop icon. The mad scientist who breathed life into this monster is James Washburn, who has been building cars for about 17 years, out of his house.
“The band contacted me and said, ‘We want to pull up to the [VMAs] in the car from the videos. Do you know anybody that can help us out?’” Washburn said. “I told them, ‘Duh... Send it over!’”
When Washburn received the car it was a disaster. No brakes. No gas tank. No driveshaft. The cooling system, interior, and suspension were shot. The trunk floor was falling out and cats had been living inside it. “It was a real piece of junk,” Washburn said.
“The one special request we got was, ‘Can we have a fog machine?’” Washburn said. “They are particular to fog and fire. It’s part of how they make their living, hence the flamethrowers and fog machines on the car.”