If Nirvana‘s Nevermind was responsible for effectively killing the age of hair metal with its dynamic hard hitting music and the gravely voice of Kurt Cobain, then Green Day‘s Dookie brought us out of the haze of grunge and over produced pop music. With Dookie, Green Day made punk music commercially acceptable. Dookie flipped the bird to authority and convention while smiling in the frowning face of grunge music. Dookie swept three snot nosed punks off of the streets of Berkley, California and in a wave of youthful rebellion and teenage angst, Dookie inspired a generation and served as a launching pad for one of the most successful bands in the world. This month, the diamond certified album turns twenty and is just as relatable in 2014 as it was in 1994.
In 1992, Green Day released Kerplunk, their second studio album through the independent, Lookout! Records. Pop-punk hooks and lyrics caught the attention of Rob Cavallo who was junior A&R scout at Reprise Records. Cavallo signed the band and agreed to produce Dookie. While the punk scene in Berkley disowned them, the rest of America loved Green Day after their legendary performance at Wood Stalk 1994, which was dubbed “Mudstock” after the band started a mud fight with the crowd. Dookie produced five hit singles, won them a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, and to date, has sold over 8 million copies in the United States. With Feb. 1, 2014 marking the 20th anniversary of Dookie’s release we’ve put together a track by track examination of one of punk’s favorite albums.
1. Burnout : Billie Joe Armstrong sings “I declare I don’t care no more” to open this misfit’s manifesto. It’s the perfect opening line for a major label debut of a post-Nirvana album filled with teenage angst and hormonal rage. It’s a two minute burst of buzzsaw guitar and snotty hooks that sets the tone for the album.
2. Having a Blast: The band keeps the early album energy going here with the angsty “Having a Blast.” Armstrong sings about tying explosives to himself, “think about the times we’ve spent and what they’ve meant” in this breakup rant. Melodic hooks over choppy guitars keeps the edge alive early in the album.
3. Chump: “Chump” follows the model laid down by bands like the Ramones and Sex Pistols. “Chump“ is punchy and likable in its own right, its most memorable moment is probably its closing guitar swells and drum groove. This would lay the ground work for Dookie’s first big hit.
4. Longview: Best known for Mike Dirnt’s infectious walking bass line, this is song where the three Green Day instruments are used in such isolation that the whole band deserves recognition for selling their parts and adding to the eventual buildup. Starting with Dirnt’s Bass lines and Tre Cool’s Slow intense drumming, it’s when Armstrong’s driving power chords kick in, that the song reaches the apex of it’s adolescent rock catchiness.
5. Welcome to Paradise: This was the Only Kerplunk track to be re-recorded for the major label debut. While similar to the three opening tracks, but with a more socially aware hook, this song is a tribute to the band’s humble surroundings and would become Dookie’s second single.
6. Pulling Teeth: Though this song never achieved the “a classic Dookie single” status, “Pulling Teeth” shows off Armstrong’s songwriting skills. With a Beatles-like melody in the verses, as usual, Armstrong is in a distressed state, pledging his allegiance to his girl-friend even though it is obviously an abusive relationship.
7. Basket Case: The distress of “Pulling Teeth” is almost a prelude to Armstrong’s mental torment by covering his anxiety attacks and panic disorder diagnosis. “Basket Case” became one of Dookie’s”biggest hits, with Green Day fans relating and singing along.
8. She: The fifth and final single from the album. The band continues whipping out more rapid-fire punk riffs and sneering melodic hooks. Armstrong wrote the song in response to a feminist poem his ex-girlfriend showed him; she then dumped him and moved to Ecuador.
9. Sassafras Roots: With the pop-punk barrage of noise hardly slowing down, Armstrong sings what sounds like a conversation with himself about getting ready to call a crush on the phone. “I’m always like you with nothing else to do; can I waste your time, too?” when in reality, it was written about the same ex-girlfriend that inspired “Chump” and “She.”
10. When I Come Around: If there’s one track that pushes the album from punk rock to straight up rock, its “When I Come Around.” Green Day proved themselves to classic rock fans and it’s no surprise this song is still heard on rock radio. “When I Come Around” showed Greenday’s rock aspirations for the first time.
11. Coming Clean: In one of the record’s often forgotten songs, Armstrong offers some of his most confessional lyrics, opening up about questioning his sexuality: “I’ve found out what it takes to be a man; now mom and dad will never understand what’s happening to me.”
12. Emenius Sleepus : This song continues the trend of brief, less-than-two-minute tracks. “Emenius Sleepus” helps close out the album a tale about an old friend that comes off a tad underwritten compared to other cuts. Although “Emenius Sleepus” is the only song on the album with lyrics written by bassist Mike Dirnt.
13. In the End: Another brief melodic song, at this point, the album reverts to a more familiar flow for a punk album with a heavy Operation Ivy feel that inspired Green Day in the first place. But even when operating with less than two minutes, the band preserves the classic verse/chorus/bridge pop structure.
14. F.O.D. : While it’s not quite “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Green Day closes the album of charged-up punk songs with an acoustic guitar. Well, until the electric guitars ruin the whole wet dream right around the minute and a half mark. The title stands for “f&*# off and die” with Armstrong sending a literal good riddance.
15. All By Myself (hidden track): If you made it through the silence after “F.O.D.” you will find this hidden track, written and sung by Tré Cool. It was sadly or happily, (depending on how you feel about songs sung by drummers about masturbation) his last major vocal contribution to Green Day.
Take some time to listen to an album that revolutionized the music industry and the minds of America’s youth.