“Do you have the time? To listen to me whine? About nothing and everything all at once?” Billy Joe Armstrong says on the track “Basket Case.” This is a question that has been burning for generations of teenagers. Hearing those words as a 14-year-old kid was a bit of a revelation; growing up confused and a bit angsty about the things that surrounded me, there was a sense of feeling like an outsider. But hearing those words gave a life-affirming sense that I wasn’t alone and was not the only one who was feeling this way.
While most of my generation first remember Green Day for their 2004 album, “American Idiot,” it wasn’t the first time that they made their mark on the world. It was in 1994 when the band released their third album, “Dookie,” that they received commercial success. Among the Grunge acts that were prevalent in America during the early ‘90s, “Dookie” provided a brighter sound but retained some of the angst found in the Grunge acts. It was a welcome break from the gloom and anger that Grunge provided. While there’s nothing wrong with Grunge music, it was starting to become tiresome to hear it over and over again.
Hit singles such as “Basket Case” and “Longview” came with audacious and funny music videos that felt like a diary of a teenager’s life. They were filled with bright colors and three misfits. That was the beauty of it, it felt relatable for teens to see these three guys who were thinking and doing the same things as they were. Even Armstrong noted how people reacted towards the band’s appearance, particularly towards the music video of “Longview” where the members looked notably different from the typical clean-looking pop star. “We wanted to show it all, zits, acne, you know, blemishes,” Armstrong said.
Take a song like “Welcome to Paradise.” It’s a song about being on your own and having fun with your freedom but also dealing with the consequences of living independently. Or the song “She,” a song about the problems a teenage girl face in a sexist society. These are some serious topics but it’s balanced by how incredibly catchy the songs are. The choruses soar, the guitars roar and the bass is melodic. They get stuck inside your head for countless hours. Matter of fact, I’m already hearing “She” inside of my head.
The best part of this album is that it doesn’t let up on its energy. This album plays like a train that will never stop. Track by track you are injected by high-pace songs that will leave your heart pounding. The opening track “Burnout” makes it clear that this is a train ride that will rattle you for the next 40 minutes.
“Dookie” still feels as youthful as it was 25 years ago and has been an album that remained constant in many teenagers no matter the time period. Even if you no longer a teenager, you can still listen to these tracks and get taken back to a time period where it seemed like the world was against you. However, a band like Green Day was able to provide the music that helped get you through the times.
Listen to “Dookie” on Spotify: