Lyrical Analysis: Green Day – Macy’s Day Parade

Posted by on Nov Thu, 2019 in Hard Rock, Lifestyle, Pop, Punk, Straight Edge, Surf Rock | 0 comments

Lyrical Analysis: Green Day – Macy’s Day Parade

Intro:

Macy’s Day Parade is a single from the album Warning, released by Green Day in the year 2000.

I consider myself to be a free spirit. I do what I think is right, even if it feels like the whole world is against me. I march to the beat of my own drum. I am neither a leader nor a follower, but a lone wolf.

Living in my solitary, self indulgent fantasy land, sometimes I have a hard time relating to “normal” people. (If there even is such a thing as a normal person.) In my head, dragons and faeries are typical, but a 9-5 office job is otherworldly. Similarly, it’s hard to wrap my head around the traditions of the holidays. Even though these events repeat themselves like clockwork, they are anything but comforting and familiar. The Macy’s Day Parade is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen, even by daytime television standards.

Is it weird to be normal, and normal to be weird? Are the holidays a wholesome celebration, or a monopolized marketing campaign? Is Green Day a cliché pop punk band, or are they actually talented and deep? Are they hypocritical for condemning conformist culture, while selling thousands of records and merchandise?  Let’s find out, in this analysis of their single, Macy’s Day Parade!

Lyrics:

Today’s the Macy’s Day parade
The night of the living dead is on its way
With a credit report for duty call

The Macy’s Day Parade happens every year on Thanksgiving. It’s supposed to be a holiday about family and gratitude. However, Thanksgiving dinners are notorious for being awkward at best, and traumatic at worst. Black Friday is also a running joke, for being a corporate materialistic shopping spree, just one day after you were supposed to appreciate what you already have. The fact that a department store is sponsoring an annual parade, speaks volumes about the commercialization of the holiday season.

It’s a lifetime guarantee
Stuffed in a coffin, ten percent more free
Red-light special at the mausoleum

People want to say that time is something positive. Time is precious, and time is money, and things get better with age. But we are mortal, and time is synonymous with death. We are all living on the devil’s clock.

Give me something that I need
Satisfaction guaranteed to you

Everything is a commodity. Even happiness itself. And how do you raise demand for your product? You create a deficit. This applies, not only to material goods and money, but also to freedom, happiness, and even time. (Again, time is money, and we’re running out of both.)

What’s the consolation prize?
Economy sized dreams of hope

People can steal anything away from you. Your money, your possessions, your joy, your freedom. But as long as you live, you can choose to have hope and faith. Those are some of the few things that you can hold on to. But the choice is yours.

When I was a kid I thought
I wanted all the things that I haven’t got
Oh, I learned the hardest way

Sometimes, we confuse our wants for our needs. Just because you want something, doesn’t mean you need it, or even deserve it. You may think that money and materialism will make you happy. But I’m living proof that that’s not necessarily true.

My life is literally a rags to riches story. I was living on the streets and couch surfing for longer than I care to admit. I clawed my way out of the gutter with sheer willpower and resilience. Now I’m working in a solid, challenging, rewarding career, making more money than I ever dreamed of. I am in a long term, commited, healthy relationship. I live alone in my own house, no roommates or family members in my space. I have my own car, reliable transportation and independence. But I still feel empty inside. All the money in the world can’t buy a time machine to change the past, nor can material possessions assuage my regrets and sorrows.

Then I realized what it took
To tell the difference between Thieves and crooks
Lesson learned to me and you

Ironically, many things that we consider innocent and wholesome, are actually insidious. Take, for example, the golden age of cinema. The Wizard of Oz is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s a whimsical, family friendly fairy tale, sentimental even by 1940’s standards. But behind the sacharine veneer, the star Judy Garland had a tragic life, ended by an undignified death. Many other child actors, who were supposed to be kid-friendly,  grew up damaged and traumatized by the industry. (Hannah Montana,
Macaulay Culkin, and Shirley Temple are just a few examples.)

Similarly, the holiday season is supposed to be festive and cheerful. But behind the cozy imagery, it’s a cold capitalist marketing strategy. Multibillion dollar conglomerates manipulate their clients into associating consumerism with endorphins. Families are supposed to be warm and fuzzy, but they are often vindictive and cruel to each other. Romantic relationships are supposed to be a dream come true, but they can be a toxic nightmare. Friendship is supposed to be mutually fulfilling, but it’s usually one sided and draining. If our lives were a TV show, it would be less like Leave It To Beaver, and more like Breaking Bad.

Give me something that I need
Satisfaction guaranteed

The holidays are symbolic for friends and family in general. It’s supposed to be a magical celebration, but it’s actually expensive, time consuming, and stressful. Just like every relationship ever. If you want the perfect Thanksgiving feast, you’ll also have to deal with the before and after events, too. Everyone wants the picturesque roasted turkey and honey glazed ham, but nobody wants to buy the ingredients, cook them all day, set the table, and then wash the dishes afterwards.

Similarly, everyone thinks they’re entitled to unconditional love and grand romantic gestures, but few are willing and able to show the affection, forgiveness, and compromise that they want for themselves.

‘Cause I’m thinking ’bout
A brand new hope
The one I’ve never known
‘Cause now I know
It’s all that I wanted

Like the myth of Pandora’s box, the world is full of cruelty and sorrow. One of the only redeeming qualities, is the hope that things might get better someday. But even hope is bittersweet. By definition, it means acknowledging that the past and/or the present are messed up… But maybe the future will be good. And even then, that’s only a possibility, and not a guarantee.

What’s the consolation prize?
Economy sized dreams of hope

We rarely get what we want, but we usually get what we need. Even if you failed at a goal, you can still have hope. Even if you have setbacks, you can try again. Even if you have a negative situation, you can try to make the best of it.

Give me something that I need
Satisfaction guaranteed

Most things are out of your control. You don’t choose your family, you just get born into it. You don’t decide when bad things happen to you, that’s why they’re called bad things. You don’t get to decide when or where or how you will die. All you can choose are your own thoughts and emotions. Will they be positive or negative? Neutral? A combination? That’s your choice, and yours alone.

Because I’m thinking ’bout
A brand new hope
The one I’ve never known
And where it goes

If your happiness and self worth is contingent on your circumstances, then you will always be miserable. You will be upset because you don’t have the money you think you deserve, or the fancy house you feel entitled to. Maybe your car is shabby, your friends are flakey, and your family is dysfunctional. You’re in a relationship an actual human being, and not with an imaginary fairy tale princess, or the fictional Prince Charming himself. That’s reality. Get used to it.

Even if you obtain  all the selfish desires that you think you want, you might still be miserable. The only thing that can make you feel fulfilled, is your own attitude.

And I’m thinking ’bout
The only road
The one I’ve never known
And where it goes

Contrarianism is just as mindless as conformity. A rebel without a cause, who rejects everything without even understanding it, is just as close-minded as the society that they claim to subvert. If you take the road less traveled just for the hell of it, and not because you actually want to, are you really free? Or were you peer pressured to act out in a certain way, because that’s the only way to be “punk”? Maybe that road is less travelled for a reason.

It’s okay to acknowledge shades of grey, and the whole spectrum of colors. Everything isn’t always black and white all the time. You can be reliant on the system while still being critical of it. I complain about my job sometimes, but I still strive to be a good employee to the best of my abilities. My family has helped through hard times, even though they’ve disappointed me in the past. Sometimes I feel like my friends are just using me for my money, but I’m still there for them if they really need it. The entire human race depends on each other, even though we all lose faith in humanity sometimes. After all, sometimes I’m the negative, toxic one. We all deserve some credit for our strengths, and also some blame for our weaknesses.

This self awareness is liberating. The truth really does set us free. To love someone or something, is to accept it how it is, flaws and all. You don’t have to pretend that it’s perfect. You don’t have to lie to yourself or anyone else.

And I’m thinking ’bout
A brand new hope
The one I’ve never known
‘Cause now I know
It’s all that I wanted

Gratitude isn’t blind optimism. In fact, I’d argue that wallowing in self pity is far more dismissive, childish, and naïve than being proactive. I don’t have the luxury of staying home and feeling sorry for myself all day. Self pity doesn’t pay my bills. I push myself to do the best I can, in spite of everything and everyone else. Even if I feel sullen and depressed, I find the motiviation to go to work, run my errands, and do my chores. At least then I won’t feel like a complete failure. Sure, it’s boring and tedious to do this busywork. But it’s also boring and tedious to lay around crying all the time. You don’t have to be happy to be productive… But maybe you have to be productive to be happy.

People think I’m “privileged” or “lucky” for trying to stay positive. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have to stay positive, provide my own motivation, and be my own best friend and biggest fan. Not because I want to, but because I need to. If I didn’t pick myself up, nobody else would do it for me. If my self esteem was dependent on how other people treat me, I’d put a glock to my temple. If my mindset was determined by my dark past, I’d give up on life. I have to rise above it for my own sake, or else I’ll be held back by everyone else’s negativity.

Hmm, if only there were multiple academic sources, that unanimously proved that mindfulness and neuroplasticity had a real effect on human psychology and behavioral health. Oh well.

Outro:

When we think of giving thanks, we don’t need to imagine a whitewashed, watered down narrative history of Pilgrims and Natives sharing a dinner table. We don’t have to ruminate on all of the stressful family drama of the past. We don’t have to feel obligated to have a perfect dinner setting from a cheesy sitcom. Being grateful is more than eating a single heavy meal one day out of the year, and filling the void with material possessions the next. Gratitude is a constant, daily struggle. It’s not easy. It’s much more practical and pragmatic than one might assume. And even hope and faith have a darkness all their own.

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