Green Day's album "Dookie" has turned 30. It now gets the deluxe box set reissue treatment. That is kind of weird to me. Perhaps, after thirty years, it is time to put this album in a dog poop bag, and put it into the trash.
Am I being too harsh? Maybe, I finally am.
When I first saw this box set it, celebrating its 30th anniversary, it made me feel old. I know that's relative. Suddenly I was back in the eighth grade when this came out, when I was first exposed to the Green Day version of punk rock, fourteen years old, hitting the streets with a skateboard. Sure, Green Day, was more pop than punk, but there were many great pop punk bands that I liked much better. It was the same time in my life when I was getting turned on to the better punk rock music of The Descendants, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Ramones, and later the anarcho-punk that came out England such as Crass, Conflict, Chumbawamba, Flux of Pink Indians and the like. Crass, earyl Chumbawamba and Rudimentary Peni became favorites for me. I really liked that noisey stuff. From there I kept looking, searching, for you know, the sound... the sound that you like... the sound that turns you on, the music that gets you excited, the song and bands you've always been waiting to find and hear.
Green Day was an anomaly within this mix, and never much found its way onto the mix tapes I received or made. As I listen to Dookie now on my headphones, it still doesn't move me very much. I admit the catchiness of some of the songs, such as Longview. But perhaps I've heard them too many times, even if it wasn't me who was putting on the record. Despite this, many of the other bands that had been brought up on Lookout Records I really loved, and it was The Queers who probably remain my favorite. That was my first bonafide punk rock show as well, The Queers opening for Rancid. Probably not long after Dookie came out. And though the Rancid show was good, it was The Queers who really shined that night.
Admittedly, part of my own dissing of Green Day back in the day, and now, was because of their popularity. With a chip on my shoulder as a middle class skater punk from the westside, I got irritated with all the people my own age who fell in love with it, but they didn't like the hard hitting and lyrically more devastating music of Bad Religion and the like. Well, now I don't need to be such a jerk about it, but I still find myself driven to comment on the band and album, as in this email.
However, I'm reminded of the punk novel by Stacy Wakefield, The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory. Set in 1995, its about a young punk girl who goes to NYC and gets involved with the squatters and the underground hardcore music scene there, (hence the crust).
"Sid teams up with a musician from Mexico and together they find their way across the bridge to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Packs of wild dogs roam the waterfront and the rough building in which they finally find space is occupied by misfits who don’t know anything about the Manhattan squatting scene, Food Not Bombs, Critical Mass, or hardcore punk. But this is Sid’s chance and she’s determined to make a home for herself—no matter what."
It was a fun coming-of-age novel with a romantic subplot, and the one thing I always remembered about it was how the main character talks about the guy she falls for, and how she can listen to Green Day with him, without pretending to always have to listen to the harder stuff like Nausea, Aus-Rotten, and Filth.
Perhaps there is a good reason that part of the book stuck with me. In music as with reading: you can't always be delving into the Herman Hesse, Dostoyevsky, or the Bronte's. Sometimes you need to read some Mickey Spillane, Robert E. Howard, Ed McBain or what have you. In the same way you can't always be listening to Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage or Nurse With Wound. Sometimes you need to listen to Green Day.
And as I listen to "When I Come Around" for the upteenth time, its not so bad. I guess today was my day to listen to this turd of an album that I reviled so much in my past. But maybe it doesn't stink as much as I remembered. I understand why it hit home with all the kids out in the suburbs. And why they covered this song at so many Battles of the Bands. This may be the first time since those days in the 90s when I listened to this album straight through.
But the chances are good I might not listen to it straight through again for another thirty.
Justin Patrick Moore
Husband. Father/Grandfather. Writer. Green wizard. Ham radio operator (KE8COY). Electronic musician. Library cataloger.