#3. Green Day
To me there is no other name in punk music other than Green Day. They are the epitome of punk rock in the 90s; innovative, rebellious, aggressive, counter-culture, rough, rugged, and raw. They were just as monumental in their musical genre as Sublime and A Tribe Called Quest were in theirs, only instead of offering playful insightful music they were downright juvenile, raucous, and wild. They were everything you wanted a punk rock group to be. They were the standard bearers, rabble rousing, card-carrying members leading the musical revolution. They pretty much captured my teenage angst as I was growing up. But where most groups would stop developing Green Day didn’t. They evolved as they grew older, and so did their music. They would take a hiatus to reflect inward, sequestering themselves until they emerged having undergone a metamorphosis developing their sound to convey the message they were trying express. They could change their sound and their image, but their rebellious, sophomoric-humor, and soul would never falter.
Green Day is made up of three members: Billy Joe Armstrong, the front man and lead guitarist, Tre Cool, the drummer, and Mike Dirnt, the bassist and additional vocals. They hail from the Bay area in California. They have been rocking garages, bars, clubs, stages, and now sold out coliseums since 1987. They didn’t gain any real recognition until the release of their 3rd album Dookie in 1994. Many Green Day purists however will say that they first garnered acknowledgment in 1992 when they released their second album Kerplunk!. I first took notice of them in skate videos in the early 90’s, so these arguments fall on deaf ears. But, the first Green Day album I bought was Dookie. The album, like the group was amazing. They went on to release a host more albums, each one having their distinct punky thrash guitars and immature witty lyrics. Their concerts were known for their insane mosh pits, high energy playing, and their crazy on-stage antics. They were immortalized in rock concert lore with their mud bowl performance at the 1994 revamp of Woodstock. The release of Nimrod with the hit “Good Riddance” marked a clear desire to depart from their immature partying ways. The release of Warning displayed the band’s desire to experiment with their sound and their eventual maturation was becoming evident. Then in 2005 a musical perfect storm was created when they released the critically acclaimed album American Idiot. This album was the announcement to the world that Green Day was a true rock dynasty and that by the time all was said and done they would leave an indelible mark on punk, rock and alternative music.
The album American Idiot was the best album in the decade between 2000 and 2010. Not since Pink Floyd’s The Wall had an album been able to transform and transcend what rock music could do. It was quite literally a rock opera. It went back to the days of storytelling through music, but did so throughout the course of an entire album. American Idiot captured America’s attention because of how real and transcending the music was. American Idiot was not only brilliant in its conception and masterful in its execution, but maintained its social relevance by incorporating timeless themes that affect us still today. It took a genre of music that had become boring and stale and breathed new life into it. The influence of this album could be seen in the release of albums from bands such as My Chemical Romance, The Killers, Panic at the Disco and a host of others who obviously took inspiration from this masterpiece. But what puts Green Day in a class of their own is that despite all of the critical-acclaim, fanfare, and praise that this ground-breaking, awe-inspiring album generated it isn’t even their best album. Dookie is far and away their best album. Front to back, song to song, there is no other album quite like this one. It still till this day can transport me back to the emotional state I was in when I first heard this album. That is powerful music.
You can pretty much put any album on and listening to it straight. Here are some of my favorite songs from some of their albums. They have many compilations and live albums as well. I am more a fan of buying the whole album so you can get a sense of what they were trying to achieve and the messages and themes of the album. But if you want to dip your big toe in before you jump headfirst into a pool of Green Day I would recommend their International Superhits, and go from there.
Put the disc in and let it play:
Seriously, just let the whole thing play!
…just let this one play, too.
Listen to the whole thing
21st Century Breakdown
“one day, a guy walked up to me and said, “What’s Punk?”. I went over and kicked a trashcan over, and said “That’s punk!”. So then, he went and kicked over a trashcan and said, “This is punk?”, and I said, “No, that’s trendy!!!”
-Billie Joe Armstrong