Think Outside the Boombox: An ode to Green Day

Music columnist Patrick McKenna on a group and its connection to teenage culture

By Patrick McKenna | Jan. 28, 2014

Tags: Music

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I know I discussed alternative music from the ’90s in my last column, and I swear I’m not some sort of addict when it comes to the guitar work and lyrical performance of that era.

But I had an epiphany that involved a genre so unexplainably marvelous that it deserves to be brought up often, specifically when noting a certain blend of ’90s greatness that came from California.

For a certain ’90s band, the exact audience that worshipped a fast, ferocious and fantastic sound forgot a monumental significance shortly after its peak of advancement and success as a group.

It was music that invigorated, broadened and magnetized the sound of punk. The new sound encompassed a dirty touch of rock music that transcended punk and created pop punk.

The head of that squadron is none other than Green Day.

Even with its tragic fizzling out with late career releases that were less than exceptional, Green Day is a personal band for me, as it possibly is with you. We grew up at a time where the emotions of modern suburbia and teenage unrest blasted their way into mainstream music, which started a movement that adolescents everywhere could identify with.

For me, that first experience with something so monumental to the course of punk rock (such as Dookie) created a whole new personal mindset. Green Day simply changed music.

I should backtrack and note the reason for mentioning this group and its phenomenal companions.

After being flabbergasted by the Thursday night extravaganza of the “American Idiot” musical performed in Jesse Auditorium, I was reminded of the group’s achievements during and prior to the era of American Idiot.

The combination of excellently choreographed dancing, inspiringly tight vocals and acting that would make Billie Joe proud were more than enough to cause a reflective moment in praising a group for holding such sentiment in songs while never forgetting the powerful pulse of punk rock.

It was a time when pop-punk made its way from garage shows to headlining festivals, bringing along cult followings with which few bands could compare.

Groups supplied a surprisingly romantic memory for listeners such as me, between the reviving lineup of The Offspring, Sublime, blink-182 and many others, that brings me back into a nostalgic setting of early high school shenanigans and our formerly dangerous teenage mindsets.

This music deserves a better understanding. It may be something that flourished in the past, but it is far from dead. It should always be remembered how Green Day emulated a theory that still stands today for alternative music, a theory powerful enough to resonate in our everyday lives: take me as I am or f*** off.

P.S. I thought I’d start a “jams of the week” list at the end of my column, so no matter what, readers can be met with new music that deserves repetitive listening. Here are the four tracks that I’ve listened to most often this week, along with brief descriptions.

“Maggie’s Farm” — Rage Against the Machine (cover) This cover had what most haven’t ever before. A reinventing track that stays true to its original message (played most notably by Bob Dylan), this song includes the funk-metal intensity of Rage met with the empowering vocal’s of Zack de la Rocha and ear-arousing guitar work Tom Morello.

“Family Tree” — Black Lips Hold on tight during this raging garage track that features the disturbingly raw vocals of Cole Alexander, with a drum and guitar combo that leaves listeners feeling the bruises of a mosh pit and the vibrations of chaotic sound.

“Blue Moon” — Beck NEW BECK NEW BECK NEW BECK. That is your description.

“January Wedding” — The Avett Brothers If you’re not one for the beauty that is sappy acoustic folk, this might not be your kind of tune. Otherwise, indulge yourself in a well-crafted love ballad guided by heartwarming lyrics and a simplistic acoustic sound.

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