A Look Back At Green Day's 'Dookie' 20 Years Later
It's also the first punk album I ever heard, which likely goes for many other people born in and around 1985. Reconciling these two truths didn't seem weird when I was nine, but hearing many more punk albums and somewhat fewer flawless albums in the 20 years succeeding has helped me realize. Knowing what I know now, punks were never this direct (could you even imagine if the Clash's "White Riot" was released in the wake of Macklemore?) and they're anything but flawless. The almost-40-minute perfection of this thing offends purists, who probably think better of oh, the Germs' G.I.
Punks are supposed to be flawed. They're not supposed to function in society, which makes them feel like a "tool without a use." They're supposed to rebel against common sense, because those who condescended and pushed it down their throat have anything but. They're arguably not supposed to empathize, as Billie Joe Armstrong unsarcastically proclaims on "Having a Blast" in one of the most chilling choruses of the 90s: "No one here is getting out alive/ This time I've really lost my mind and I don't care/So close your eyes and kiss yourself goodbye/ And think about the times we've spent and what they meant." Which is sad enough until the kicker comes round: "To me it's nothing." This isn't Billie Joe, this is a fantasy, a fantasy he channeled into song and melody worthy of Lennon-McCartney.
"May I waste your time too?" Armstrong asks on "Sassafras Roots," one of a few songs here that betray a country influence he wasn't ready to acknowledge until "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" took over the Bar Mitzvah and Seinfeld clip show circuit three years later.*
Putting country in a punk tune, or Lennon-McCartney for that matter, was an inevitability in pop. Mainstream guitars didn't stop getting louder during the stretch from Led Zeppelin IV to Woodstock '99, and singable not-just-verses-but-choruses have always generally helped billions of music buyers distinguish the music they remember and care about from the music they don't. (There's also a few million music buyers for whom this isn't true, none of whom presumably is among the 20 million who bought Dookie). more on this story
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