“Compositing a Green Day Mix and Examining Motifs of Time as Being Pliable or Erroneous”

Firstly, and this is a phenomenon I’ve noticed with various artists such as Rivers Cuomo (the unabashedly Green Day-adoring) and Ted Leo, but it’s not unheard of for a discography to actually become less mature, or starkly FINAL, as it goes on. Consider, for instance, Weezer (1994) and The Tyranny of Distance. Listen to the wizened panic in “St. John the Divine,” or “Say it Ain’t So.” The tone is serious but more tellingly the issues are large-scale: reading, in the Ted Leo, as a bastion of spiritual solace, and simple domestic sanctuary for a person growing up (growing up too fast, that is), in Weezer.

Now, obviously, Leo should be contrasted sharply from Weezer in the ensuing projects for many reasons (note the juvenility Rivers Cuomo called his home persona, of course), but Leo did get “punkier,” the song structures on the later tunes more resemblant of the bratty Ramones or Sex Pistols (Shake the Sheets would be a good example of this), and the penchant for those longer conceptual forays of structure largely dissipated by the mid-’00’s. Did Billie Joe Armstrong grow up too fast? Obviously. His dad died when he was 11, and then once his music career got going, he tasted disillusionment right away in the form of a “Billie Joe must die” scrawling on a restroom wall, in the wake of the band’s major label signing. The effect of these tragedies is (a) great rock music but (b) I think, a certain eccentricity in how they’re proffered, or maybe just the tendency to be guarded, to closely protect the art created as if it’s offspring. [1]
So I suspect that some of these songs on ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tre! were penned back in the Insomniac/Nimrod epoch, because goddamn do they have such a youthful spunk about them. Take “Little Boy Named Train,” “Wild One” (which reminds me very much of “Worry Rock,” which Weezer covered) or “Rusty James” — I mean these are by-the-book Green Day-isms, with none of the trapping frivolities of Warning’s “Blood, Sex and Booze” or “Misery,” none of that genre appendage. It’s back to mortal and pestle rock and roll (though the guitar sound has evolved slightly, which is the band’s wont), and although the three newer albums do contain the thematic wrinkle of romantic faux-promiscuity [2] (see “Troublemaker,” “Night Life” and “Oh Love”), very much in the vein of American Idiot’s speed trial “St. Jimmy,” but seemingly even more divinely ordained for its lack of topical fanfare. [3] The songs exist almost in spite of themselves, and in this way further reflect the life of a young lost-soul rocker.

Addenda: Wu-Tang
I know, I know, I probably shouldn’t write about Wu-Tang at all, since I’m white, let alone within the same post as Green Day, but I couldn’t help but notice that in the song “Careful (Click, Click)” [4] there runs rampant the concept of time’s mutability or malleability. You’ve got the “baroque” [5] beat on the part of RZA which grants the mood a certain dusty, mummified feel, [6] but the Ghostface’s verse bestows the listener’s mind with an overwhelming array of images, pertaining to the temporal realm: “Syringes rubber bands / Needles the ’60’s… We got all that / Osh Kosh jumpers / Pink champale,” the whole thing of which renders the track in a certain way transcendent (not to mention selfless and helpless from multiple stab wounds and leaked sounds, little Wu-Tang inside joke there). Agh, what is my point here? Good question. Part of it, though, is that music, I think, doesn’t FULLY always exist within time — it sets us free from that concept, and maybe time is a tired old concept that’s just so dull, so formulaic, so that if you find yourself just TOLERATING a song, and thinking, Well, it’s going to be over in two minutes, or whatever, chances are it’s bad music, and you should look into sophisticating your collection into something that will come into the business of melding your own past and future into one cognitive coin of inspiration.
Best of Green Day:
{from Kerplunk}:
1 “Welcome to Paradise”
2 “Christie Road”
3 “No One Knows”
{from Dookie}:
4 “Having a Blast”
5 “Longview”
6 “Basket Case”
7 “When I Come around”
{from Insomniac}:
8 “Geek Stink Breath”
9 “No Pride”
10 “Bab’s Uvula Who?”
11 “86”
12 “Brain Stew”
{from Nimrod}:
13 “Nice Guys Finish Last”
14 “Hitchin’ a Ride”
15 “All the Time”
16 “Uptight”
17 “Walking alone”
{from American Idiot}:
18 “St. Jimmy”
{from ¡Uno!}:
19 “Troublemaker”
20 “Oh, Love”
{from ¡Dos!}:
21 “Wild One”
22 “Amy”
{from ¡Tre!}:
23 “A Little Boy Named Train”
24 “The Forgotten”
[1] We almost didn’t get a “Better Man” by Pearl Jam: it took showstopping producer Brendan O’Brien’s moral handiwork, coaxing Vedder over to his personal abode in Atlanta and initiating the ethereal organ part for the first verse and a half, to do what Vedder viewed as justice to the item.
[2] This is a great source for corroborating several of my points here: http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-green-days-billie-joe-armstrong-uno-dos-and-tre
[3] This is obviously not to discredit the mission statement of American Idiot. I wholeheartedly jibe with its semantics, but it’s a situation I think no one enjoys acknowledging.
[4] I swear to God if you don’t own The W I’m going to karate chop you in the neck.
[5] I know for a fact I’ve heard RZA’s beats described as “baroque,” which would be the artistic style in painting, poetry and classical music directly following the Renaissance, marked by affective techniques which were darker and more long-winded, less ideo-Christian and more encapsulating of humanity’s darker side.
[6] This track is also notable for its inclusion of two of what I consider “stock Wu-Tang lines”: “Father U.C. King police,” originally birthed as “Father U.C. King the police,” in GZA’s highly spinnable “Living in the World Today” off Liquid Swords, and which actually just means “Fu** the police,” and then “We have an A.P.B on an emcee killah / Looks like the work of a Masta” (I have no idea what this means, but it’s Noodles in both instances, the first time appearing on the archetypal “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”).


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