Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Green Day Redux

So I was looking around and saw a couple of things, one from the big cheese, and one from some other guy named Steve Sturm. You go look now!

Both of them discussed the anti-Bush qualities of the music of Green Day, particularly the album American Idiot, for which they’ve been on tour recently. This was something I left out of my story on the Green Day concert I attended last month. I did consider it, but eventually I decided not to put it in. Because I’m a hypocrite. Why? I liked the concert so much, I didn’t want to say anything bad about them. And now I’m going to tell you that it doesn’t matter, even though last month I apparently thought it was bad enough that I shouldn’t mention it and discourage potential concert attendees.

It all started with the perfect TV dad, better than Stephen Keaton, better than Cliff Huxtable, way better than (but rhyming with) Ward Cleaver, that’s right, I’m talking about Jason Seaver. He took little Ben to a concert, and thanks to Maggie, he and Ben even had backstage passes. Naturally, while backstage, Ben saw something he shouldn’t involving said singer. Ben was crushed. Here was someone he idolized as only a child can, and he was bitterly disappointed. When he got home, he tore down the posters. Dad saved the day by pointing out that whatever flaws the singer had, it didn’t change the fact that the songs were good.

And it’s not just music. Go to any museum, and some of the art you see there was created by major assholes. Read any books? Surprise, surprise! Some authors are jerks. And now I suppose you’re saying that their indiscretions weren’t exactly public. But Jerry Lee Lewis nailed a young cousin of his. Hell, Poe did the same thing. Put that in your unseen censer and smoke it. And if I check my handy lit books, Poe’s still in there.

They don’t have to be famous either. Look around at work. Plenty of people there ain’t exactly saints. The guy at the next desk over might be having an affair. You might even be the one he’s having it with. So why slam Green Day? I guess because their offense is special.

You see, they don’t like President Bush. I’m sure that’s a shock to you. I mean, who’s ever heard of someone not liking a president? Except everybody, since every president has people who hate him.

On the other hand, Green Day is selling a product; most moonbats are just busy being batty. Ford doesn’t make ads showing how well their trucks run over puppies, but every one of their trucks can squish puppies good. We all know that, but people still buy Ford trucks. And Ford doesn’t go around bragging about it. Green Day may hate Bush, but they don’t keep it secret.

But it’s just a protest album, right? I’m too lazy to read all the lyrics, but I don’t think Bush or Iraq are mentioned by name anywhere on the album. The songs may have grim imagery, but you can listen and enjoy the music and never hear Bush’s name. And I thought half the music of the 60’s was protesting something or other. What were they protesting? Who gives a rat’s ass, as long as it sounds good? I sure don’t. In fact, in ten years, when Bush is a distant memory and Hillary is handing over the keys to the White House to Osama, I’ll bet this album sounds just as good.

Now you’re saying that’s fine as far as it goes, but what about the concert? Did Green Day pull a Dixie Chicks? There was a brief one. At one point lead singer Billy-something Armstrong, I think his name is, might have said something like “Bring me President Bush’s head on a platter!” Which brought out the usual screams from the ignorant children in the crowd. Of course, they would scream just as loud if he said the sun was hot. I was annoyed for about half a second, but my innoculations against Vedder-rhetoric that allow me to still like Pearl Jam were able to handle this as well. Just think how much culture you’d miss if you only got to see and hear and read the stuff created by people who agree with you on politics. Your list of acceptable art would be pretty short.

But who am I to tell Strum what he should or shouldn’t listen to? We’re both making choices according to our tastes, which happen to be different in this case. But maybe I could say this, if you see or hear or read something you like, go for it, and don’t let me or Steve tell you any different. Just remember to actually see or hear or read it before you make up your mind. Nobody knows what you like better than you.

And then you have the Ramones. While I definitely agree that their music is great, can we really say at this point that they have left Green Day so totally in the dust? Give Green Day fifteen more years and see how they stack up over a similar length-of-career effort. I’ll freely admit I’m not an expert on either of these bands, but do lyrics like “Beat on the brat with a baseball bat” or “Gabba gabba hey” sung over fast guitars really make the Ramones such a quantum leap above and beyond “She's a rebel vigilante missing link on the brink of destruction” or “Sometimes I give myself the creeps” sung over fast guitars? Ok, ok, maybe I’m pushing it a bit, but still, give them time. After all, none of them are dead yet.

Update: Oh yeah. Here’s what I wrote about Green Day the first time around.

Update II: Ha ha ha on me. Rereading that older Green Day post I see there was a Ramones mention in there. They held a place of honor. And I see I was grateful that even kids at a Green day show could sing along. So much for that last paragraph.
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