Part G of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, where every day this month except Sundays, I'll be talking about things I love - one thing for each letter of the alphabet.
Easily my favourite band. My first introduction to them came when I was 12 years old and the smash hit album American Idiot came out. It was such a landmark album that - being 2004 - Rolling Stone magazine claimed that Green Day had "saved rock". Its title track was the first proper rock song I'd ever liked, having at the time been one of those kids who poo-pooed any music that was older than me. Like most people when they listen to music, I took no interest in what the band was actually saying with the song. I just thought it sounded awesome. I'd shout "Don't wanna be an American Idiot!" Whenever that line came up with no thought to watch I was actually saying. Now that I'm mature enough to take an interest in the message behind the album... I have to say I'm still a bit in the dark. Basically all I've ascertained is "America sucks, everyone rebel!"
The two nine-minute tracks on the album - Jesus of Suburbia and the less-mentioned Homecoming - were something I'd never heard before. Split into smaller parts, they told a great story with really smooth changes between the acts. They were the main tracks that gave the album the feel of being a "rock opera".
The video clip for American Idiot was awesome, with its great imagery (the band rocking out in a warehouse with a giant American flag behind them, the red stripes turned into a dripping green), the strobe lighting, the mess and the anger.
When I bought that album, I was shocked to find a card inside the cover that listed a whole bunch of other albums they'd released. I'd never heard of Green Day before American Idiot came out, so I'd assumed that was their first album. Not so. Not having any years next to them, I had to guess whether the top or the bottom album was their first. I guessed wrond, which meant the next album of theirs I bought was International Superhits. It turned out to be a best-of album and, having never heard any of their songs before American Idiot, it was like having a new album. I was surprised to realise that Good Riddance was one of their songs. I had heard that one, but had never thought to associate it with them. But my favourite song from that album was actually a really cheerful track that I don't think appeared anywhere else on their whole discography.
So next, I went to the other end of the list and picked up Dookie. This became, and still is ten years later, my favourite album. A themed album, with every song told from the point of view of a drop-kick loser. There was Longview, in which the singer was so bored and lonley that even masturbation had lost its appeal; Basket Case, where he whines about his problems so much that even his shrink is getting sick of him; Emenius Sleepus, a surprisingly cute song explaining to the girl he likes that they're both losers, so they may as well be losers together; And of course the smash hit When I Come Around, which is basically him telling a girl "Look, I know you like me, but I'm just kinda playing the field at the moment. Sit tight, 'cause I'll be done with that eventually, then I'll come around." That was probably the only all-time classic song from the album, but put all together, the songs just clicked together like a jigsaw puzzle. The album as a whole is many times greater than the sum of its parts, to the point that it made it to spot 193 on Rolling Stone magazines 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
They're amazing live performers. Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown tour (that being the follow-up album to American Idiot) was for a long time the best concert I ever went to. Most of their songs are high-energy rock songs, which obviously helps fire up a crowd. Along with the pyrotechnics and explosions, they have all sorts of cool tricks that I haven't seen at anyone else do. Usually once per tour, among all the many hits they belt out, they'll throw in a medley from other artists.
At another point, they'll pull people from out of the crowd and get them to play the next song for the crowd. At the concert I went to they just got one guy up to be the singer, but at other shows they've created entire makeshift bands.
And at the concert I went to, the show ended with all the lights in the arena out and a lone spotlight on Billie Joe Armstrong singing Good Riddance on an acoustic guitar.
Incidentally, they always made an impression when they appeared on the Letterman Show. Their appearances on that show form a kind of story arc throughout their career.
As Letterman says, there is indeed something wrong with their drummer.