My August Green Day

Do you have the time
To listen to me whine
About nothing and everything
All at once…

I was safely sheltered by European pop, dance and techno (most of it coming from Germany and the Scandinavian countries) until I heard Green Day tear into “Basket Case.”

I was in eight grade, with little rock references other than Elvis and the “oldies but goldies” mix tapes of ’50s and 60s American classics. The definition of rock in my hometown of Targu-Mures, Romania was rather hairy. Metal-head hairy. Death metal, speed metal, trash metal — loud and vicious. To be honest, I chose the accessible Swedish mellowness of Sonic Dream Collective to the befuddling anger of Obituary. After all, the first records I paid money for were by Roxette and New Kids on the Block. Hey, it was 1991!

“Basket Case” though was neither poppy nor heavy. The dance connoisseur in me was ashamed to admit guitar-driven music was melting my heart. Then I bought “Dookie,” packaged as a counterfeit Polish cassette by Poker! Music. Soon the dance world would be behind me.

On Tuesday night, standing in the rain at Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, Md., I watched Green Day perform (the link take you to a DCist review of the show) — just a day after MTV’s VMAs showered them in awards. The VMAs arguably makes Green Day the biggest band in the world at this moment, but all I could think about is that these guys and their masturbation-themed breakout album had changed my life.

I never abandoned Green Day. Yes, by the time “Warning” (2000) came out, they were already ridiculously mainstream. So what? They made great music. And “American Idiot” (2004) is that rare record you can listen to without skipping a track. So what if I have to share them with kids that weren’t even born when Green Day began? I can take it.

Thousands of kids were at Merriweather screaming their lungs out. For many, “American Idiot” is the first Green Day record they laid their hands on. Mom bought it. Mom was also at the show. I can only hope there’s a track on this record that will make them appreciate the beauty of electric guitars and deep bass lines.

Plus, there is hardly a concert moment like screaming along to “Holiday” while the rain pours…

Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like and Armageddon flame
The shame; thee ones who died without a name
Hear the dogs howling out of key
To a hymn called “Faith and Misery”
And plead, the company lost the war today

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday …

2 Responses to “My August Green Day”

  1. You should burn American Idiot for me and bring it with you on your visit next month.

  2. I’ve seen them in KKK-land Peoria; definitely made my day (or maybe my May). Green Day has been making my days ever since high school. I don’t think i remember a green-day-less time, once Nirvana was out of the picture and they exploded into the mainstream. And you know what? They’ve been accused of selling out and all, but how else was i going to ever hear of them in my then-Internet-less age?

    And you know what? It took some time until I discovered Dead Kennedys, far less mainstream (though not far enough). Was I happy to hear Jello Biafra talk on campus? Hell yeah. Didn’t I go all the way to KKK-land to hear Green Day? It’s redemptive in a way, all those years of fighting against the Depeche Mode frenzy around me wiped clean.

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