Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Green Day Continue To Give My Rock-N-Roll Soul Some Hope...

I set this up as kind of a "follow up" to a long-ago-previous post, "Green Day Saved My Rock-N-Roll Soul Last Night", which you can read HERE.


Green Day has released their new single, “Oh Love”, the first release from their trio of upcoming albums (“Uno!” on September 25th, “Dos!” on November 13th, and “Tre!” on January 15th).

It may surprise you to find out I'm a Green Day fan.  It surprises me.

It’s no secret my musical tastes run pretty left-of-center.  There’s not much in the “mainstream” that interests me.  To be honest, I can be guilty of sometimes automatically discounting “mainstream” acts for the mere fact that they don’t swim in a…uh…more…obscure…stream.

I’ll happily acknowledge the rare exception to this case.  While I don’t listen to it a lot, I like a lot of pop music.  I respect Lady Gaga’s artistry.  I still haven’t decided yet if Katy Perry is absolutely brilliant or flat-out horrible.  I loved how huge fun.’s “We Are Young” was.  I hated myself for loving “Tonight” by Hot Chelle Rae.  It was everything a pop song should be: stupid, catchy, fun to sing along with while in a car with my family, obviously totally void of any beneficial nutrition, but a tasty fun treat. 

But, let’s be honest, these are pretty easy exceptions to make.  These are mostly novelties.  Distractions.

When it comes to rock music, I find most of the “mainstream” stuff too polished and produced for my tastes.

I think the thing I love about Green Day is…for lack of a better term…that they kind of grew up with me as a listener.

Like most guys my age, I got turned onto them when they released “Dookie” when I was 16.  I followed them a while and lost interest by the time I was wrapping up college.  I enjoyed a few of their more “grown up” sounding tracks like “Warning” and “Minority” during those years, but remained mostly uninterested. Then, around the time I was figuring out this whole “I’m a grown up and in the real world now” thing, which comes with all kinds of frustrations and disillusionments, they released “American Idiot” and spoke to many of those feelings.  They continued the run with the ambitious “21st Century Breakdown”.

It sounds so cliché to say that a band has grown up.  But, really, how often have you seen a band or artist successfully do that?

When they release a new album, the Rolling Stones are still playing the same three-chord rock and roll as always.  It’s not bad.  But it’s not “Exile on Main St.”  And, be honest, Mick Jagger’s calculated preening and dancing started pushing the limits of embarrassment way back on the Steel Wheels Tour.

You could say U2 has grown up with their fans, but they’ve aspired to such huge heights throughout their career, that it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t already grown up.

This whole thing of a band maturing is especially tough when you’re talking about a punk band.  My favorite band of all time, Social Distortion, managed to grow old (Mike Ness is 50 now) gracefully with their last record, “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes”, but they’ve struggled to make the transition live in concert.

Understandably so.  Punk is supposed to be snotty music.  It’s supposed to be angry.  It’s supposed to be a rallying cry for the have-nots.  It’s supposed to scare and offend and piss off old people.

So, what’s a punk band to do when they become “old” (yeah, yeah, in the grand scheme of things I know…Mike Ness at 50 and Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day at 40 are NOT old….but, keep in mind, we’re talking “punk rock years” here)?  What are they to do when they become successful and don’t have as much to protest against?  Just look at what happened to The Clash.

Billie Joe has made references to the glorious “Nuggets” compilation and the Stones’ “Exile on Main St.” when talking about Green Day’s new records.  He’s also alluded to the fact that some of these songs were intended to be recorded by Green Day’s side project, The Foxboro Hot Tubs; a garage-rock outfit made up of exactly the same members as Green Day, with a little more raw and stripped-down sound.

This tells me the sound is a little different from what some might expect from Green Day.  That, combined with the references to “Nuggets” and “Exile”, tells me that maybe it’s a little more raw sounding.  Both “Nuggets” and “Exile” drew from primitive rock, blues, and other raw forms of roots music.

That’s the good stuff right there.  And if you got the good stuff, why play it safe and put it out under a side project band name that no one has any real expectations for?  Be who you are, put it out yourself and let the chips fall where they may.

Kudos to Green Day for not being afraid to take chances, to grow up, and to keep it real. 

The video for “Oh Love” is below.  Based on this, I’m excited for “Uno!”, “Dos!”, and “Tre!” to drop over the next several months.  It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been excited for a popular mainstream artist to release an album.  Looks like Green Day may just save my rock and roll soul once again.

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