Hi there, let me tell you briefly about my relationship with Green Day. As I’m writing this I’m realizing that it was about ten years ago that I began to listen to this band, and that’s terrifying. It was my last year of Middle School (which was just all around awful), nearly ten years ago, when my best friend at the time brought the live concert DVD Bullet in a Bible over to my house. We huddled up on couches only inches from the screen, and pretended we were mini rock-stars. It opened the floodgates to me pretending I was cool. I’d call people posers for only liking American Idiot (despite it being the CD that I first heard of by the band), I’d watch all day marathons of the band on Fuse, dress in crummy- looking hoodies and bought my first pair of Converse, contemplating piercings and haircuts that I never would actually get and falling head over heels.
It was mildly absurd, and the friends who knew me then now could attest to such, but when you’re at that criminally awkward age of 14 and about to go into high school, you need something to latch onto – which I did, wonderfully. I was obsessed.
While I don’t still hold the same amount of early teenage enthusiasm for them as I did nearly ten (TEN!) years ago, I still carry a fondness for them and genuinely enjoy much of their music, and you’ll have a hard time convincing me that their true blue breakout album Dookie isn’t nearly perfect. I have more affection for American Idiot, and listen to Kerplunk on a more regular basis, but Dookie is their masterpiece with no song wasted.
Channeling the energy of Southern California punk kids, Green Day went to town. Throwing their music through the wringer and seeing what stuck, they created a sound that, while not entirely authentic or original, was at the very least their own. Clearly emulating the punk idols of the time, Green Day and their music often had more of a manic tone than an angry one. Their songs were enthusiastic, bass heavy and fun to sing along to. Dookie was their third studio album, released through Reprise Records and the first one that had a distinct and clever sound. The first two are strong and filled with individual songs that manage to stand the test of time, but it’s Dookie that finally captured a crisp, well produced studio sound that also managed to keep their punk bearings. The CD became a worldwide success, charting in seven countries, and it was this album that helped propel Green Day into mainstream popularity, building with it a dedicated and long-term fan base.
The songs are simplistic in nature in regards to their musicality, but simplicity can be a remarkable tool and a deceptive one when used well, and front man Billie Joe Armstrong has always known how to write a good hook and mask serious lyrics with a devilish flair. The album included songs that dealt with issues such as panic attacks and anxiety, sexual orientation, perpetual boredom, divorce and more.
“Basket Case”, “Longview”, “When I Come Around”, and “Welcome to Paradise” were all singles from the album and showed early signs of what the band would continue to pursue in their musical trajectory. “Longview” contains the tongue-and-cheek lyricism along with a signature bass line from bassist Mike Dirnt. “When I Come Around” shows how they’re willing to slow their sound down and still create a viable hit while “Welcome to Paradise” keeps them in touch with their punk roots. And “Basket Case” is just one of their best songs ever, period.
Dookie was an album definitive of the early ’90s, a catalyst for bringing a certain brand of pop-punk to the mainstream, and a strong output from a band that would go on to show its longevity. This year it was announced that Green Day would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and even if they don’t possess the same amount of punk rock credibility as they did in the early nineties, I certainly can’t say I’m displeased to see them honored.
We all have that one band, one movie, one book etc. that either launches an interest (for me, Green Day was a catalyst for checking out other bands and other types of works that encouraged creativity), or creates a safe haven where you can turn your mind off for a bit. Green Day was both for me, so albums such as Dookie, American Idiot and Kerplunk will stand the test of time because of their sentimental pull even as newer albums such as 21st Century Breakdown end up being disappointing. However, even without the abundance of goodwill I feel toward the band, Dookie is simply a wonderful album technically start to finish.
This is my super self-indulgent write-up on a band that I used to adore because I was feeling nostalgic, and now I’m going to listen to “Christie Road”.