Friday, February 7, 2014

Albums2010 Revisited: Dookie Turns 20

I officially feel old.   Green Day's seminal album, Dookie has turned twenty (here's my original Albums2010 review, if you're interested) and people are remembering it either fondly or not so fondly, depending on who you talk too.   I fall squarely into the latter camp.  This was one of the first albums I ever purchased along with The Counting Crows' August and Everything After and Hootie and The Blowfish's Cracked Rear View.  (Seriously:  if there was a trifecta of albums that summed up the post-Nirvana 90s, could you top that trio?

(Randomly, cassette number four I purchased for my new radio, far, far back in the mists of my youth was The Dance, a Fleetwood Mac live album that featured the USC Marching Band during 'Tusk'.)

But, back to Dookie: I can understand the punk purists that despise Green Day.  After all, they were essentially the progenitors of pop-punk that gave birth to bands like Good Charlotte and Blink-182.  But, you could also argue that maybe that was just the sign of the times.  After all, the 90s were the era where rap lost it's social consciousness and embraced the ridiculous celebration of gangster excess that lasted until the emergence of Kanye.  Why wouldn't punk lose it's edge in the 90s?  Who was there to rail against? We were in the middle of the largest and longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history and life was good.  Punk, fundamentally, was born out of the rage of late 70s malaise, when life was anything but 'good.'  People were boiling with anger and rage.   And that's what gave birth to punk.

So I get that.  But, and here's the interesting thing that The Quiet Man and I touched on during the snowy ride back from a galling and truly depressing loss to Ohio State:  music has to evolve to survive. Even as Metallica risked the wrath and alienation of thrash metal purists by changing, so Green Day took some of the angry edge off of punk to make it work for them.  Even working your way through the discography of The Clash you can see the evolution of their sound from 'White City Riot' to 'Train In Vain.'

While everyone probably remembers 'Basket Case' from Dookie, I hold two songs near and dear to my heart:  'Longview':

(This was the first song I ever picked up a phone and called a radio station to ask to hear.  Q103 FTW!)

The second one, oddly, is 'Welcome To Paradise'...  I don't know why, but I think the lyrics speak to me even today.  How scary it can be to leave home and move out on your own for the first time is a theme that I think is universal, in a way.  But really, it can be applied to anything.  A new job, a new house- every transition- and in an economy like this, there can be many, can be scary.  And maybe paradise is fleeting, but sooner or later, even if it's just for a little while, you're going to feel welcome there.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the memories, the nostalgia and spend the rest of the month feeling incredibly, incredibly old.  The only comfort I have from this fact is that Billy Jo Armstrong and Company probably feel a hell of a lot older than I do.

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