A Six-pack of Green Day

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.)

Spotify link

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

Spotify link

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.)

Spotify link

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.”

Spotify link

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:

Spotify link

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:

Spotify link

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.

7 thoughts on “A Six-pack of Green Day

  1. While grunge generally isn’t my first choice, I like Green Day since they oftentimes combine grungy sound with great melodies. That’s why I also dig some of Neil Young’s grungy tunes.

    Except for ‘Dookie,’ which a friend once gave me as a present, I generally don’t know Green Day’s entire albums. Instead, it’s songs here and there. ‘American Idiot’ had some catchy tunes.

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  2. Caveman reporting in. Know the name and I know Earl listened to these guys. I recognize one tune from above. Like what i hear though. Funny you should mention Black Keys. Wasn’t onto the either until Earl again kicked me in the butt and turned me onto one of their recordings. Real good stuff.

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    1. Hey, nice to hear from you. Rumor had it that you had run off and joined the circus.
      I love Green Day, really. They’re not just “some band” but their stuff is loud and fast and great. And they’ve got some nice ballads too. They’ve never lost their punk edge. I won’t be going to that tour I mentioned they’re doing with the other bands but that thing is going to be massive. Probably the event of the year.
      I also like Black Keys quite a bit but they’re a lot more blues based. Big Earl is on the right track.

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      1. Actually I was trying out for the job as the “Human Cannonball’. ‘One Shot CBski’
        Now bands like Green Day I feel like i missed something (never to late). That last song you posted kicks. I think what I’ll do is give your play list a go and see if it sticks. Any duets with Garfunkel?

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        1. The guys in Green Day would make a cannonball out of Garfunkel and shoot him the fuck into the sky. God save the human cannonball, Bruce says. That whole list kicks. Grab a stogie and give it a spin. “Basket Case” is my life story.

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