Songwriting has always been a bit personal for every single musician. Even though there are some throwaway songs that artists have made during their time in the spotlight, there’s always a certain piece of your personality that you’re laying on the table every single time you go into the studio and make something that no one had ever thought of. This kind of stuff cuts pretty close to the bone, but there are always those few songs that tend to take on a life of their own.
As much as these artists may have held these close to the chest, sometimes the song ends up becoming a bit of an albatross around their neck, becoming almost too personal for the rest of the world to see. While they may not have anticipated the universal appeal of their personal story, these songs tended to become hard for artists to play every single night, either because of the fans not understanding what it was really all about or having to relive the same pain that they had the first time over and over again.
Aside from the personal drama though, these songs have gone on to have a life of their own, almost meaning something completely different these days and actually helping fans get over their own personal struggles as a result. The artists may have had to emotionally bleed for their art, but these songs have also been helping fans get in touch with their own emotions for years.
10. Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day
Pop punk was never meant to be a genre for grown ups. If you listen to Blink 182 or Sum 41 more than once, most of the songs tend to be about the kind of emotions that you feel between the ages of 12 and 27, so you might as well be ancient when you start having real problems. Billie Joe Armstrong knew raw pain a little too young though, and he finally felt comfortable addressing it on American Idiot.
While the majority of the record is about a bunch of kids trying to make their way through Bush era America, Wake Me Up When Septembers is actually an autobiographical song Billie wrote about the death of his father, with the title coming from the last words Armstrong said to his mother after coming home from his old man’s funeral. Once it was dropped into the concept album, millions of people saw it as a reaction to dealing with loss, piggybacking off the name of the song to reference the tragedy of 9/11 just a few years before.
Although Billie has sung this song hundreds of times at this point, he still talks about feeling a bit uncomfortable playing it, including one performance at the Reading Festival when he got to the line about how long time had passed and turned away from the mic to stifle his emotions. Moving on is never going to be easy, but sometimes it takes music like this for those wounds to start healing.