Year of RevRad, Part 5: "Outlaws"

'Outlaws', the focus of this edition of our Year of RevRad, is the fifth track on Revolution Radio, and a noticeable step down in pace and vigor compared to the preceding songs. Rolling Stone labelled it 'a swelling, wistful tune that looks back at the trio's teenage punk days', with Billie telling the magazine: "I was feeling nostalgic, thinking about when me and Mike would break into cars and steal tapes and lighters and shit like that."

The song opens with bow guitar - a playing technique Billie Joe has used for the first time during this album's recording process - before giving way to quiet, rhythmic music with softly spoken lyrics, in which Armstrong nostalgically recalls the events of his youth. The chorus sees a rise in volume, before the swell subsides to give way to another quiet verse. There are very subtle changes in tempo throughout the track, until it slows down significantly as the song closes with:

"I found a knife by the railroad track
You took a train and you can't go back
Forever now
Forever now
You'll roam"

The 'railroad track' mentioned here is likely the same location as the 'tracks at Christie Road' referred to on the band's 1991 album, Kerplunk. However, while 'Christie Road' was a narration of then-current events, 'Outlaws' is clearly a reminiscence of them. This has led to many fans, and the band themselves, calling 'Outlaws' a sequel to the earlier song, written from a reflective, nostalgic point of view.

The track has split opinion amongst fans, with many praising the slower pace and heartfelt lyrics, while others have called it 'boring'. Here's what some of our staff had to say about the song:


"The first time I heard this song, I remember being surprised by the slow tempo — very slow, by Green Day's standards. That said, it isn't tedious to listen to. Billie Joe's lyrics about young, reckless love save this one, I think. I'm always struck by the somber outro, which is one of the most powerful moments on the entire album."

""Outlaws" is a bit of a love song from Billie Joe. Not to his wife but to Mike and Tré. Looking at just the lyrics, you'd picture it as a peaceful and beautiful reminder of the past. However, when paired with the music, it gives those lyrics a depressing tone and gives me the "days gone by" sense that implies they miss the good ol' days. That could be true, but you'd never know it in 2017.

This is the section of the album I typically skip over because it, along with "Say Goodbye" and "Bouncing Off the Wall", don't do anything for me. However, I do like one part of the song: the ending. No, not because it's over, but I love Billie Joe and piano, especially with the deep lyrical content. It kind of reminds me of his Everly Brothers recordings. I'd love to hear a stripped down version of this song with just piano and acoustic guitar."

The song hasn't yet been played live, nor has it been given an official music or lyric video by the band. However, it has inspired Italian company Luna Video to produce their own fan-made project, serving as an unofficial music video for the song.

You can head over to our song page for full lyrics as well as more details about 'Outlaws', and you can discuss the song with other fans in our forum topic for the track.

What do you think of 'Outlaws'? Is it too slow, or does the nostalgia hit the right spot? Let us know in the comments!