The Saints Are Coming

Green Day's new album after American Idiot wasn't due for quite some time, but luckily fans had something to satisfy their intense Green Day cravings until then: The Saints are Coming.

This cover of the song may be new to us, but the song itself isn't really new at all. A punk band from Dunfermline, Scotland known as The Skids first did the song. The Skids were founded in 1977, and since then have had a few hits, such as their song Into the Valley and Masquerade. The Saints Are Coming was a released single, but The Skids version only reached the 48th spot on UK rock charts. The Saints Are Coming was from their debut album titled Scared to Dance.

Richard Jobson was the vocalist of the Skids, and in a recent interview, he said that he had written the song about a friend of his. This friend had enlisted in the British army, and was tragically killed while he was serving in Northern Ireland. The lyrics depict the concept of despair using metaphors to compare bitter weather and the emotions you feel in times of tragedy.

"A drowning sorrow floods the deepest grief,
how long now?
Until the weather change condemns belief,
how long now?"


When Green Day and U2 covered the song, the lyrics took on a whole new meaning, a literal one sadly. The lyrics can easily be applied to Hurricane Katrina, and the catastrophic damage done, the thousands of people it displaced and other tragedies spawning from the hectic event. New Orleans was destroyed, and where was help to those who needed it? Well, the majority of it was stationed across an ocean in Iraq out of reach. The severe lack of coordination in formulating a plan to deal with the disaster was upsetting, obviously very upsetting to U2 and Green Day. Wanting to help in any way they could, they covered The Saints Are Coming as a charity single, and organized a benefit concert to accompany it. New Orleans is one of the most cultural parts of the United States, from the food to the accents, it's something truly unique. Another major aspect of New Orleans culture is its music. Since the forming of the city, it's been a musical innovation center. The city was a very popular port, which allowed different cultures to mix together. European instruments combined with soulful African sounds to create some of the origins of blues and jazz. The heavily syncopated style of funk began to seep its way into New Orleans clubs. Bounce music grew greatly in popularity as well and never really achieved commercial success, which makes it something special you only find in New Orleans, and a select few other southern American cities.

Obviously, a hurricane causing the city to become flooded put a damper on the musical culture of New Orleans, practically destroying it. Green Day and U2 wanted to do something to help this, which is why all proceeds went to Edge's Music Rising foundation. This foundation was actively involved in getting instruments back into the hands of the scattered musicians, so that the music of New Orleans could continue to exist.

September 25th, 2006 was when the two bands performed the song in a powerful show on Monday Night football, the Saints vs. the Falcons game. Since August of 2005, no games had been played at the Louisiana Superdome due to Hurricane Katrina. The two bands played a set consisting of 4 songs: Wake Me Up When September Ends, House of the Rising Sun, The Saints Are Coming, and Beautiful Day. During that game, the Saints went on to win 23-3 against the Falcons, and every time they have a home game, they now play The Saints Are Coming as they take the field.

The live version from the football game was available for download on Rhapsody almost immediately after the performance. The studio single was released for Internet download on October 30th, 2006, and was followed by a CD single which was released on November 6th, 2006. You can also find The Saints Are Coming on U2's greatest hits album U218 Singles.

The music video for this song directly confronts the lack of government aid received by the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It was released on YouTube October 27th, and Chris Milk was the director. It begins with shots of the bands in Abbey Road Studio, which are then mixed with live footage from the football game, along with scenes from Hurricane Katrina wreckage and news headlines. Then, for the second part of the song, the video shows how the situation could have been handled. It shows military support vehicles coming to the rescue, portraying them as saints in a way, as they come to the aid of those who desperately needed it. Then, as the video reaches its end, you see a scene with a sign that reads "Not as Seen On TV". This shows the contrast between the scenes depicted in the second half of the video, and the cold reality of what actually happened.

This song was an amazing collaboration between two monumental bands in rock music, so it's no surprise that it's been nominated for the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group Grammy. The video has been played heavily on Fuse, MTV, and VH1. The song has reached number one on radio countdowns in countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. It has also got its fair share of airplay in the United States and the United Kingdom. All awards and publicity were earned rightfully so, for a good cause, making this song one of the most monumental in Green Day's career.

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