Six-packs are not meant necessarily to say “these are the best the band has to offer.” Rather they are just six I dig and could be a different six next week.
If you are of a certain age, inevitably your kids will find their way to your record collection and make of it what they will. My kids at least heard some of what they thought to be good stuff (Beatles, Hendrix, etc.) and some which they could take or leave (blues, alas.) Alas, they complained that several were scratched. C’est la fucking vie.
My son was shocked, I think, to one day discover that his past-his-prime dad actually had a Green Day record or two in the old collection. Or maybe it was a CD. Whatever. In any case, I dug – and still quite a bit like – Green Day. Initially I think some people were turned off by their faux-British vocals and their aping of late ’70s punk. But that, to me, was just so much noise and bullshit. If it’s good, it’s good.
Brief bio: In 1986, guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt, 14 years old at the time, formed a band called Sweet Children. They quickly started performing live with drummer John Kiffmeyer, caught the attention of the now-defunct Lookout! Records and got signed to that label. The name Sweet Children was dropped and they changed their name to the cannabis-influenced Green Day.
They managed to release a couple of albums that collectively sold about 12 copies. There was a band on the label called The Lookouts and its drummer, Tré Cool, eventually joined Green Day. Their second album Kerplunk sold 50,000 copies in the US. While this album wasn’t burning up the charts, it did include an earlier version of the great “Welcome to Paradise.” This album led to them being signed to Reprise records and in 1994 they released Dookie which had a slight uptick in sales, selling 10 million copies in the US alone. It also won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album. (Alternative to what I’ve always wondered – ME.)
Per Billie Joe Armstrong, [“Welcome to Paradise”} is about West Oakland, living in a warehouse with a lot of people, a bunch of artists and musicians, punks and whatever just lived all up and down, bums and junkies and thugs and gang members and stuff that just lived in that area. It’s no place you want to walk around at night, but it’s a neat warehouse where you can play basketball and stuff.” (Me, I’d head for Tahiti – ME.)
I read the following and kinda remembered it happening. Note that the Hatch Shell is where the Boston Pops performs every year on July 4th. This was completely different:
At a performance on September 9, 1994 at Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston, mayhem broke out during the band’s set (cut short to seven songs) and by the end of the rampage, 100 people were injured and 45 arrested. The band also played Lollapalooza and Woodstock ’94. The latter became infamous for a mud fight the band started with fans. Earlier this year, the band released an album called Live! Woodstock 1994.
From Dookie comes the most excellent “Basket Case,” whose lyrics provide insight into my mental state on at least some days:
Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I’m cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
Or am I just stoned
The band’s next album Insomniac couldn’t really match those numbers but still contained a track I dig, “Brain Stew,” (Which is about Armstrong’s insomnia as it happens.)
I’ll jump ahead here a bit and talk about the band’s 2004 release American Idiot which was a worldwide smash. The title was inspired by our own beloved President George W. Bush who is, in fact, an idiot. But many of us now look fondly on that period as “the good old days.” One supposes they could re-release it as a “tribute” to Trump. But I personally think you’d have to write a new one called “Traitorous Sociopathic Narcissist Douchebag.”
A musical was made from this album. I didn’t see it but the Tony awards broadcast showed that I had no interest in hearing a bunch of clean-cut kids sing rock and roll with perfect diction to the back row.
In 2012, Billie Joe threw a nutty onstage and left the stage halfway through the (apparently appropriate) “Basket Case.” (After doing a Townshend on his guitar of course.) His issue was the time-honored one of rock ‘n roller substance abuse, going in and out of sobriety. Green Day canceled its remaining concerts for 2012 and early 2013.
I’ll leave you with two more numbers. I couldn’t decide between “Longview” and “Holiday” so I’ll arbitrarily go with “Longview” from Dookie:
And just in case you were thinking the band were some sort of relic, know that in early 2020 they are scheduled to release an album which is apparently inspired by me titled Father of All Motherfuckers. I just heard this tune from it on Spotify. Doesn’t even sound like Armstrong singing and in some ways sounds more a Black Keys number:
And in case you haven’t heard, Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy are touring together next year. This news is ‘sick’ per my son.