The most influential band in the punk genre and quite easily the harbinger of punk music, Green Day is and will always be synonymous to punk in each and every aspect that we can possibly think about.
Seldom have we seen such a wide ranging metamorphosis in a particular music genre but Green Day gave a new dimension to punk music and elevated it to its greatest heights.
Simply put, Green Day imbibed and inculcated as well as made me explore the punk in me.
Since the 90’s, this band has been spreading the punk wave around the world. Formed in 1987, it comprises lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool.
Although they released their first two studio albums, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours (1991) and Kerplunk (1992), it was their third album Dookie that titled the tide in their favour and they became the forerunner of this punk renaissance.
It was a breakout success, selling over 10 million copies in the United States and 16 million copies worldwide. “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around” are some of the famous ones of this album.
“Do you have the time,
To listen to me whine,
About nothing and everything,
All at once.
I am one of those,
Neurotic to the bone,
No doubt about it.”
Also there was a marked difference in various singles of this album. While “Basket Case” was a blast of punk-pop angst, “When I Come Around” on the contrary was a love song. This is an evidence of the versatility of the band as they could make an almost seamless transition from one genre to other.
“No time to search the world around,
Cause you know where I’ll be found,
When I come around.”
~When I Come Around
Their fourth studio album “Insomniac” revolved around dark and heavy lyrical tones and aggressive sound. “Stuck With Me” is a notable mention from this album.
Another song from this album, “Brain Stew” depicts the anxious state of an individual where he is uncertain about his thoughts and is on the cusp of exhaustion. The song is simple in its lyrics yet narrates a story in its own.
Their following album “Nimrod” was their first experimental album and it bordered on the lines of folk, surf rock and ska.
Musically diverse, this album was widely praised by critics and garnered critical acclaim and was certified triple platinum and double platinum in Australia and Canada respectively. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” is the best one from this album.
“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road,
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go,
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why,
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time,
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.”
~Good Riddance(Time Of Your Life)
This acoustic ballad is one of the most adaptable songs and holds its own amid Green Day’s other boisterous songs. This song emphasizes on the fact that sometimes there arises unforeseeable circumstances and we end up taking some tough decisions.
It is about these decisions that pave the way for an individual to become a better person and also lays importance to enjoying life as and when it comes.
To summarize, it’s a song about breaking up but trying not to be bitter about it. Billie Armstrong’s voice captures this resentful and rueful situation and paints a picture that is worth its price.
“Warning“, their fifth studio album was musically mature than its predecessors and was more coherent and less aggressive.
It was their seventh studio album “American Idiot” that brought them back to their best as they achieved massive success.
Platinum certified by the RIAA and rewarded with the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2005, this album had some amazing singles like “American Idiot“, “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams“, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” are the ones I like the most.
“I walk a lonely road,
The only one that I have ever known,
Don’t know where it goes,
But it’s home to me and I walk alone.
I walk this empty street,
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams,
Where the city sleeps,
And I’m the only one and I walk alone.”
~Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Green Day’s signature song, it is a touching imagery and depiction of disillusionment and depression. It portrays the endurance of an individual who is desperately clutching to his faith and hoping for a revival to pull him out of his state of despair.
The soothing yet powerful music causes the song to burst into life which is again excellently supported by Billie Armstong’s voice. Reminiscent of intense loneliness, this beautifully sad song is my favorite Green Day track.
“Summer has come and passed,
The innocent can never last,
wake me up when September ends,
like my father’s come to pass,
seven years has gone so fast,
wake me up when September ends.
here comes the rain again,
falling from the stars,
drenched in my pain again,
becoming who we are,
as my memory rests,
but never forgets what I lost,
wake me up when September ends.”
~Wake Me Up When September Ends
This ballad strikes a mournful tone as Armstrong laments the passing of his father. It depicts how he could not get over this tragedy even though many years have passed since then.
Tears roll down our cheeks as we realize the intense pain that Billie had to go through. High on emotions, this is one of the finest of Green Day.
Following this, they released their eighth studio album, “21st Century Breakdown” in 2009, which had some amazing singles like “21 Guns“,”21st Century Breakdown” and “Know Your Enemy“. This album won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2010.
“Do you know what’s worth fighting for?
When it’s not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away and you feel yourself suffocating?
Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And you look for a place to hide?
Did someone break your heart inside, you’re in ruins.
One, 21 Guns,
Lay down your arms,
Give up the fight,
One, 21 Guns,
Throw up your arms into the sky,
You and I …”
A very expressive song, it is an anthem for the 21st century. Carrying a strong message, it describes the horrors of war. People are constantly left in ruins from what they were forced to do in war.
It lays importance on ending the war and throwing the guns in rejoice that it’s all over. The ferocious approach is what makes the song so edgy yet so deep.
“Do you know the enemy,
Do you know your enemy,
Well gotta’ know the enemy, ohaooh!
Violence is an energy,
Against the enemy,
Well violence is an energy, right.
Bringing on the fury,
The choir infantry,
Revolt against the honor to obey (Ohaooh).
Overthrow the effigy,
The vast majority,
We’re burning down the foreman of control (Ohaooh).
Silence is the enemy,
Against your urgency,
so rally up the demons of your soul (Ohaooh).”
~Know Your Enemy
Firstly, the drum beats of this song demand attention. Simply scintillating, the beats capture the mood of the song and enhance the meaning conveyed through the lyrics.
Secondly, through the song, Billie Armstrong sends a strong warning to people to avoid corruption and violence in the world as he labels it as the ‘enemy’.
Highly underrated, you only get to experience the greatness of the song once you get past the surface.
No wonder, it was the “Smackdown” theme song for “WWE”.
Green Day is one of the most versatile music bands to have ever come up. Though mostly punk, the band has a wide plethora of musical repertoire.
It would be very difficult to measure the vividness of their music. To put it in a few words – Green Day’s music is powerful, hard hitting and laced with a punk touch.
Their songs have a sharp and thought provoking message attached to them. Their songs complete with adrenalized music and Billie Armstrong’s powerful vocals still resonate in our ear drums, leaving a profound impact.
The punk trio from California have always managed to unite old and young rock fans with their songs for 20 years now.
In the rich annals of punk history, the name of Green Day will always shine bright as the band that revolutionized punk music and gave a new face and a new approach to the punk genre.
Undeniably, they can be said to be the old-school punk torchbearers and also new-school punk pioneers.
I would like to say just two more words :- Any day, Green Day.