Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Whole Lot of Dookie

My Dookie is missing. Upon finding out that Green Day was a candidate for this year's class of the Rock n'Roll Hall of Fame, feeling nostalgic, I went for my CD shelf, came up with the case, and... No disc.

I don't know how long it's been gone, where it went, or if I will ever get it back again. I will just listen to my wife's copy.

Whenever I hit play and those first notes of "Burnout" start blasting out of my speakers, it takes me back to the summer of 1994, when I was an awkward, lanky 12-year old, first trying to some sense out of the world. 

I had never really been outside of the rural Ohio hellscape that I saw around me. Trees and fields, nature right in my face. Nothing to do but sit around and dream about the future.

Billy Jo's lyrics spoke to me, to every 12-year old in America, and those songs became the anthems of our lives, as we played that disc, over and over again.

"Longview" was a revelation... I mean, what 12-year-old boy didn't feel bored and horny and fed up with just everything and everyone around them. Right on the verge of teenage angst, I was ready to explode.

And I did. We all did, because that is what teenagers do. We exploded on to the world, developing our own personalities and identities, exploring the world around us and inside of us, Dookie urging us forward, that "fuck you, world!" spirit boiling to the surface and fueling our mission, whatever the fuck it was anyways.

I started playing guitar and making plans for my own band, which would eventually surface as I found like-minded lost souls seeking enlightenment through blistering power chords and pulsing rhythms.

Grunge was already dead, but we were alive, more alive and free than we had ever been, and maybe than we would ever be again. We didn't feel alive and free at the time--hell, we didn't know what we felt. We just knew that we felt something, and it felt right, and wrong, and it swirled all around inside of us, and we tried to make sense of it, and somehow, through the wisdom of songs like "Basket Case" and "When I Come Around", it did in some small way. We weren't alone.

We every successive album, Insomniac, Nimrod, Warning, American Idiot (and the ones that came before, as well, Kerplunk! and 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours--their rendition of "My Generation" is a classic, in my book), our lives continued to be be defined, in part, through them--I mean, how many high school graduating classes didn't use, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"as their class song, how many anti-Bush War people didn't rally around "Jesus of Suburbia" during the second Gulf War? These songs spoke to us and spoke for us when we ran short on our own words or didn't have a voice to speak our point of view in a way that others would listen.

While they have always had their share of haters trying to say that they sold out, that they weren't punk, or any of that other crap, they have always been whatever they defined themselves to be, in spite of those criticisms. And that attitude is something that I have always tried to carry with me. Fuck the haters and the critics. What do they know, anyways? What is punk, anyways?

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