As you get older, you don’t really get too excited about an old favorite artist releasing a new album. Hey, life changes really do reduce your reliance on music as a friend. Much like one’s youthful optimism, you really don’t have a visceral reaction to music that I did between the ages of 12 and 36. It’s kind of like my “athletic” intelligence was at its peak back in my late-twenties and early-thirties. Yet, every time Green Day releases a new album, I get a twinge of excitement that I used to get every time Prince, Tom Petty & R.E.M. dropped a new joint. Green Day? Yes, Green Day.
When the band burst on the scene back in 1994 behind their brilliant pop-punk album Dookie, I was in the midst of a second wind of music excitement thanks to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Tupac and the rest. But something about Dookie reminded me of an American version of The Jam, only with a slacker point-of-view. Then, the boys released their next album, Insomniac. Needless to say, I felt like they were trying to please their critics instead of themselves. At that moment, I really thought they were creatively done.
Let’s fast-forward to 1999, and Green Day’s Nimrod. Initially, all of the songs that had been released were run-of-the-mill Green Day songs. But, if you listened ALL the way through the album, you would finally get to the pay-off with the title of “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. Finally, you Gen X-ers had a Graduation song. The song was so ubiquitous that for the next five years you would hear it at every freshly graduated senior’s commence party. The band followed up the success of that song with the 2000 album Warning, and the great protest single “Minority”. I thought it was just a flash-in-the-pan.
Now, let’s move ahead to 2001, when my youngest son, who at the time might have been the biggest Blink-182 fan in the world, wanted me to take him to see them in concert. He thought he was selling me on the concert by adding that Green Day was the co-headliner. Reluctantly, I agreed. I took him and a couple of his 13-year-old buddies to see this skater punk’s dream concert. In short, Green Day surprised me with their show! It was at that moment that I became a fan of them. I felt like I was watching a band that had absorbed everything from all of the bands that I grew up loving.
Then, Green Day released American Idiot, which changed everything for the band. That was the moment that they grew into their sound. They had finally made an adult punk rock statement that no band had stuck around long enough to create. Then, they released another album under their alter-ego the Foxboro Hottubs, which was nothing but loose fun. I thought their next album was going to explode.
Explode it did, but in a manner I did NOT expect, because what we got with 21st Century Breakdown, an over-bloated rock opera like most of them are. Oh well! I’d rather they try that route than creating a Broadway show. Oops! They did that too. Okay. Well, at least they weren’t doing a GNR Use Your Illusion I & II. Oh crap! At the end of 2012, they released THREE albums in four months: ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! Yep, what should have been a brilliant run from 2009 through 2014, we got an abundance of ego and ambition. And, as if the band was truly ready for their own real episode of VH-1’s Behind the Music, bad luck and demons struck. Family members became ill. Billie Joe Armstrong, the creative force behind the band’s songs, fell prey to addiction. Now, the band and their families were backed in a corner. So, they turned inward. People got healthy. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame actually inducted the band into the Hall in their first year of eligibility. When they played at the ceremony, I knew they were back and ready to make up for that three-to-four-year stretch during which the wheels came off of them.
Which leads me to today. I am STILL waiting on my mail carrier to hurry up an bring me my new Green Day album! I saw them last night on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. That new song “Bang Bang” rocks! Where is my album!
Wait! I hear the mail carrier’s vehicle. I gotta go! Have a great weekend….