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for December 10, 2004

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What a Beautiful Green Day
by Stiffy Biceptz

Can a band that has sold tens of millions of albums and been heartily embraced by the mainstream still be considered a punk band? The answer is definitely yes, and Green Day is that band.
Most punk bands burst onto the music scene with such an anarchistic/adolescent energy that maintaining that intensity is all but impossible beyond a few years. The history of punk is littered with one- or two-album bands that couldn't grow musically past their own snarling, spitting straitjacket. That's why the original punk movement is often referred to as an explosion. The blast was thrilling, but it ultimately left few survivors in its wake, both musically and physically.
Over the past 30 years, A few bands have managed to survive and even thrive after their high powered debut, finding a way to transmute that raw 20-something energy into something no less powerful but a bit more controlled, a bit more mature.
For last 10 years Green Day has been the pre-eminent power pop punk band. From the raw energy of 1994's Dookie to the somewhat more refined sound of 2000's Warning, the band has managed to maintain a strong level of impact in their music, whether in high voltage tracks like "Minority", or in quieter but far more powerful tracks like "Time Of Your Life". It seems that Billy Joe and Co. understand that punk is fundamentally about power and force, but not necessarily bound to volume or speed or obnoxiousness. This has allowed the boys to graduate from the trap of loud and fast, which can get artistically limiting very quickly. It also allows them to revisit that younger, raw energy when appropriate.
Green Day's latest album, American Idiot, perfectly demonstrates how the band has matured into middle age with its punk credentials still air tight. "American Idiot" is a roaring, blasting diatribe on the state of the union, a battle cry for all those dissatisfied with the current status quo. It's also a "must-fling-myself-madly–around-the-dance-floor" type of anthem that has sent me in desperate search of a dance floor where it might get played. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" exemplifies that graduation to a higher form of punk. It would be tough to find another track so soulful yet so powerful. Indeed everything on their latest album is a mixture of the more mature and younger styles, and it's all great. Holiday is my favorite. I also like the fact there's only nine tracks. At this point in their career Green Day can produce exactly as much or as little as they want and make it all count. Who needs ten filler tracks? The heck with that.
Neither wealth nor fame nor middle age has changed these guys, and it shows in integrity of their music.
This band and this album show how the true ethos of punk isn't tied to an age or an income level. It's a philosophy, and it's a philosophy this forty something punkster plans on sticking with for a long time to come.
With Green Day, punk at forty is lookin' pretty good.

©2004 Stiffy Biceptz

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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