Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ode to Green Day

When I was doing a fourth year med school elective in a sleep clinic, we had this 15 year old patient who said that he lay in bed for five hours every night, trying to fall asleep.

Attending: "So what do you do when you're trying to fall asleep?"

Kid: "I usually listen to some music."

Attending: "What kind of music?"

Kid: "Well, I try to listen to classical--"

Attending: "I didn't ask what you try to listen to. What do you actually listen to?"

Kid: "Umm..."

Attending: "Well, what did you listen to last night?"

Kid: "Um... Green Day."

Everyone in the room bust out laughing. (For those of you living in a soundproof booth, Green Day is not really what you'd call good music to sleep by.) I was amused on two levels though. When I was 15 years old, Green Day was MY favorite band. It blew me away that ten years later, teenagers were still listening to the band that I liked so much when I was that age. I mean, Green Day?? Who knew that a band who named their first two albums (Kerplunk, Dookie) after the passage of fecal matter into the toilet could maintain popularity for so long? I remember my boyfriend in high school used to tease me that they only played three chords all time. True, but Billie Joe was hot.

I was a teenager in the 90s and therefore liked all the alternative bands that were popular back then (e.g. Nirvana, The Cranberries, Weezer, No Doubt, Bush, Hole, etc). But Green Day was my absolute favorite. The first time I heard a Green Day song on MTV circa 1994, it was like a voice in my ear telling me to dye my hair blue, buy ripped jeans, smoke pot, and have lots of angsty relationships with guys. Of course, I was a huge nerd, so I didn't do any of these things except of course for the ripped jeans. And I listened to Dookie about a million times.

I'm not sure how Green Day evolved into a mainstream band. When they were singing Basket Case, I never dreamed there would be a Green Day song played during my brother's high school graduation years later. But I distinctly remember when I was playing Green Day's American Idiot album in the car in 2004, my husband commented, "Wow, is this Green Day? This song is actually melodic!" So I guess they evolved.

It was a sobering moment in my life when my husband and I got tickets to a Green Day concert when I was an intern. I was only 26, but it was obvious the audience they were pandering to was much younger than I was. In fact, we were probably the oldest people there who were not parents of someone else there. It was then that I realized that I had grown too old for my favorite high school band.


  1. hah. bush isn't still big. i'm definitely out of the loop? Way to go for hitting up a Green Day concert.

    ps. i've definitely fallen asleep to high school rock music. may have taken a little longer though.

  2. I'm about the same as you: teen nerd in the 90s, except I had the ripped jeans and the dyed hair. I was a nerd in an arts high school (imagine Glee but less fun), so multi-colored hair was fairly normal there.

    When American Idiot came out, I was a youth leader for a group of teenagers and they were all playing it. I remember the first time I heard it, "It's this awesome band called Green Day." I hated to tell them that their moms probably listened to an awesome band called Green Day too.

    And what kind of contract with the devil did those guys sign? They've been around since 87 and still look about the same.

  3. Which do you like better, Bush or Hole?

    That joke never gets old :P

  4. Might need a referral to Dr Grumpy.

  5. Did you have crazy teens jumping of the 2nd floor balcony too? :P

    I always thought it was funny how parents would willingly take their child to a Green Day concert. My friend's uber-conservative, strict curfew mom would...Then again, she went to UC Berkeley in the 70s, even though she swears up and down she never smoked pot or did any LSD during that time.....

  6. I saw Green Day live twice. Once when I was pregnant with my son, and once again with him when he was 10 yrs old.

  7. We just got a new radio station that plays mostly 90s alternative and I am in heaven! Lots of Green Day.

  8. Jondavid: Worse, I used to *study* to Green Day.

    AmandaGal: Oh no, I don't think I was old enough to have been the mom of a teenager when American Idiot first came out! Also, GD was super young when they started out. I remember reading an article about them in 1996 and they were only about 21 or so then.

    HotMathematician: I put Bush and Hole next to each other in the list just for you :)

    Mingle: Green Day is total pop music right now, like Bruno Mars or something. So I can see a conservative parent bringing their kids to a Green Day concert.

    MomTFH: I would be disturbed if my daughter ever wanted to go to a Green Day concert... of course, maybe that's how my mom feels when I listen to the Beatles.

    Kyla: Ah, love the 90s alternative stations. I have one that's alternative and does play some 90s stuff, but it's mostly new stuff. Not that that's a bad thing. You can't live in the past!

  9. Ahh...that band is Dave Matthews for me. Nothing like going to a concert at an outdoor amphitheater where you can dance barefoot in the grass in your best floor-length hippie skirt while swigging out of the flask that you snuck in (not to mention being totally enveloped in a dense cloud of pot smoke).

    The last time I went to one of their concerts (like, a year and a half ago), it was in an indoor arena. They had crazy light shows and dancers. I was baffled. Where was the pot smell? Where was the grass to dance in? Where were the 45 minute jam sessions? Oh, Dave dare you change in 10 years and make me feel old and out of touch with what's cool ;)

  10. I LOVE Green do my kids.

    Hubby & I are considering going to NYC for our anniversary to see American Idiot. :)

  11. I am ruining my sons. They listen to and like a lot of my music. My older son impressed (and maybe disturbed?) a few of his middle school teachers by wearing a David Bowie shirt to school.