September 29, 2004


Green Day looks smart with 'Idiot': The band of bratty punks produces a powerful, defiant rock opera (Renee Graham, September 29, 2004, Boston Globe)

When word began to leak out that Green Day was planning a politically charged rock opera for its latest album, American Idiot, reactions ranged from sarcastic guffaws to abject horror. This, after all, was the same band of punk brats who, a decade ago, cranked out mosh-pit ditties about soul-numbing laziness and dismissive hookers and whose crowning close-up moment was a mud-flinging free-for-all at Woodstock '94.

The notion of a Green Day rock opera smacked of unearned pretentiousness and utter desperation from a band that hadn't released an album since 2000's commercially anemic but underrated "Warning." It also reeked of encroaching adulthood from these boys-to-men who suddenly seemed determined to leave childish things -- and what remained of their fans -- behind.

Yet Green Day has always been more than its signature three-chord barrage, and its members -- lead singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool -- have often invested unexpected intelligence, even poetry, into their tales of slacker ennui.

Like the reflective acoustic ballad "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" in 1997, "American Idiot" still manages to be defiantly punk by following no regimen or conventions other than the band's own ethos. Through 13 songs, including two nine-minute mini-operas, "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming," it's the sprawling story of an America staggering from terrorism and war and plagued by paranoia and disillusionment. Its main characters, Jesus of Suburbia and St. Jimmy, representing the punch-drunk masses, are raised on "a steady diet of soda pop and Ritalin," as well as lies and hypocrisy.

Since its release last week, "American Idiot" has often been compared to the Who's landmark 1969 rock-opera, "Tommy," and while such assessments are a little too facile, there are parallels to be found between Green Day's Armstrong and Pete Townshend, the Who's legendary guitarist and primary songwriter.

Good to see one of the better bands of the 90s make it into the aughts, though they should grow up at some point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 29, 2004 9:22 AM

Liked a few tracks of their's but was really cheesed off with their habit of releasing albums barely half an hour long with two-thirds of the songs sounding the same.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 29, 2004 9:43 AM


Maybe you expect too much of punk rock?

Posted by: oj at September 29, 2004 9:47 AM

Green Day was "one of the better bands of the 90s?" A one-hit wonder who's reduced to a pretentious "rock opera" which recycles every Michael Moore/DU/Chomskybot cliche?

First you talk up Morissey, now this. O.J., you're worrying me.

I think it's time for an intervention.

Get the entire Over The Rhine catalog, and listen to everything from start to finish. Repeat as necessary.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 29, 2004 9:47 AM

Whenever one hears the term "rock opera", one should run like hell.

Posted by: pchuck at September 29, 2004 9:52 AM

Just listen to the Comedian Harmonists for good music.

Posted by: pchuck at September 29, 2004 9:55 AM

oj is going soft in his dotage.

My RX for him is 60 minutes Henry Rollins, played loud enough to make the floorboards bounce.

On the other hand, if we're going to be masochistically indulging Artists Who Speak Truth to Power, then I have something for you that hurts so good, it will make a root canal seem like a weakish tickle:

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you Nellie McKay:

If blacks loved white people like women love men, wed still have slavery. Women are in love with the oppressor.
Im so tired of white people. Black people were enslaved for so many years, yet they live among us and dont kill us all. That blows my mind!"
We have the equivalent of a pinprick in the World Trade Center tragedy, and were going nuts. We cant take it. So I do have a problem with white people, because I feel that not only are they currently the world oppressors, but theyre big babies on top of it.


Posted by: Eugene S. at September 29, 2004 10:04 AM


It takes a nation of millions to hold us down.

Posted by: oj at September 29, 2004 10:15 AM


In most instances, that's correct, but there have been a few good ones.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 29, 2004 10:19 AM

They are no DK.

Posted by: J.H. at September 29, 2004 10:40 AM

Not even Fugazi.

Posted by: J.H. at September 29, 2004 10:42 AM

Here ya go, boy-o's, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Call me pathetic, call me what you will...

Posted by: H.D. Miller at September 29, 2004 11:25 AM

Over at Democratic Underground, they're probably seeing the Green Day "rock opera" as the next "magic bullet." You just wait, once every college station in the country puts this one in heavy rotation, why, that'll get 'em! . . .

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 29, 2004 11:36 AM

Yeah I saw the TV ad and thought, "Who is this, a cheesy Green Day clone?" Lo and behold it was a cheesy clone of themselves! Whodathunkit?

I don't listen to any punk made after 1985. Green Day is the worst of the 90's era trust-fund anarchist ersatz punk. Nimrod is dreadful, unlistenable pap. "My parents are stupid, so I'm a real punk rocker!" Ooooh! So scary!

"Whenever one hears the term "rock opera", one should run like hell."
Is that a clever dig at Pink Floyd's rock opera? Don't think I need anything at all!

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 29, 2004 11:42 AM

Mr. Miller:

While it's true that you may be old-fashioned or over the hill, you do make the valid point that Green Day's music ain't got the same soul as that old-time rock and roll.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 29, 2004 12:32 PM

Reminds me of an idea I had a few years ago: Objectivist Punk. Combine the angry nihlism of punk with the angry capitalism of Objectivists and bingo! A million-dollar idea.

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 29, 2004 5:08 PM

Women are in love with the oppressor.

As Orrin will tell you, women are made to be dominated.
Not in any Taliban, smack-'em-around kind of way, but in the sense that women are naturally more submissive than men are.
Or, one could say that women are more inclined to cooperation, if you like, which amounts to the same thing in the end.

It's one reason why young women love "bad boys".

It's also the main reason why Bush is polling so well among women - He's physically fit, walks and stands aggressively, and talks tough.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 30, 2004 6:46 AM