By Dan Weiss
Welcome to Green Day Week at Radio.com, a series of essays in celebration of the band ahead of their induction this weekend at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Today, an essay about Green Day’s flawless, breakthrough album, Dookie.
Green Day released a flawless album 20 years ago, possibly the first flawless album I ever heard. It’s also the first punk album I ever heard, which likely goes for many other people born in and around 1985. 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.