Dookie

This album is a must-have for all teens out there. This was punk trio Green Day’s third record, and it was the album that brought them forward and sent them to the big time.

And how was it that Dookie did this? Well, frankly, with songs of boredom, anger, and, err, masturbation.

Whether it was the band’s confused view of the world, or front man Billie Joe Armstrong’s trouble with girls, everyone can somehow relate to it.

The insanity that is now Green Day first began in the East Bay area of California, when Billie Joe (born 17th February, 1972) and bassist Mike Dirnt (born Michael Pritchard, 4th May 1972), met in their high school cafeteria at age 14.

After a change in the band setup (original drummer John Kiftmeyer ‘Al Sobrante’ was replaced around 1989 by Tré Cool, born Frank Edwin Wright III, 9th December 1972) and an album, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, Green Day produced a second album, which goes by Kerplunk!, in 1992.

In the spring of 1994, Dookie hit the world, and it led to one hell of a storm.

Green Day became almost a household name, and it was all down to a couple of songs that were just about them whining. It was downright amazing. A lot of younger artists today have said that this album really inspired them, including Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance, and Blink 182’s Travis Barker.

I recommend it to those who love rock, especially those interested in punk. It’s weird, it’s funny and it’s got attitude. Seriously, you should listen to it. You interested yet?Green Day — Dookie: Track-by-track review

1. “Burnout”
This track is a great one to open on. Loud, fast, and pretty damn punk. I think it’s almost a twisted idea on Peter Pan. Sort of:

I’m not growing up, I’m just burning out

Very negative, obviously, but this song really strikes me as being a declaration of Billie’s dislike at the thought of growing up and taking on responsibility. The song is 2 minutes and 7 seconds long, but by the end of it, it’s really clear how immature he feels and also, how useless.

And of course, there’s this boredom. In pretty much every song, the guys are bored. But isn’t every teenager? You can relate to the song already.

This song doesn’t make me feel particularly depressed or anything, but it makes me wonder what it was actually like being Billie Joe and growing up in an area of music, drugs and his own home life.

2. “Having A Blast”
Despite a cheery, light-hearted title, this song is like an early attack on terrorism; it’s teenage angst taken to the extreme.

“Having a Blast” is about the oppressed feelings we all harbour being released in an unorthodox manner: committing suicide, via explosives, and taking anyone nearby down with you.

So the title is almost misleading. A phrase which is used to express one’s self-having a very good time is cleverly turned to mean exactly the opposite. But don’t get me wrong, this is a great song. The whole irony of it is how they so easily got away with the song at the time, but how it would be greatly frowned upon in today’s society.

As a sub-issue hidden behind the words, you have to think why Armstrong would write a song about suicide.

I’m losing all my happiness

Loneliness still comforts me
My anger dwells inside of me

I’m taking it all out on you
For all the shit you put me through

Doesn’t sound too good. Was it bullying or was it just the pressure of growing up? I personally think it’s the second, because, as you’ll find, the whole album is trying to put across the idea.

3. “Chump”
I actually love this song.

I don’t know you
But I think I hate you

Strange how you’ve become my biggest enemy
And I’ve never even seen your face

Have you got any cases like that? No? Well I have. Mainly with musicians who think themselves better than others rather openly.

Who? Oh, I don’t know. Brandon Flowers from The Killers maybe?

I believe this song is about Billie’s hate for his ex-girlfriend’s (Adrienne Nesser, who is now his wife) new fiancée. The relationship was rather a long distance one and that was the only reason the couple split up. Adrienne became engaged to another guy, and if Billie Joe wasn’t already upset about his ‘lost love’ (which he was), he would be now.

But when Billie won back Adrienne and she moved over to California with him, Adrienne’s ex-fiancée was equally displeased with Billie as Billie had been with him. What a tangled mess.

But this song was produced from it all, so perhaps it was a good thing.

4. “Longview”
Who hasn’t heard this song!

This is the ultimate boredom song ever. No one can top this. The song’s ‘catchy’ and undeniably true. And the video just tops it all off.

This is one of the songs written by Armstrong when the band was living in a squat in Oakland, California. Besides playing gigs, or writing new material, they had nothing to do. They were bored:

Sit around and watch the tube
But nothing’s on

It’s also a good whining session about the crap on TV. Armstrong has said himself, all these years later, that we’re living in a screwed up world where news broadcasts about the war in Iraq are interrupted by adverts for Viagra.

Going back to the lighter side of the song (if I may say exists…), I think this song is a gem. It’s amusing, and the video is just brilliant. This was the song that inspired so many artists.

“Longview” was Green Day’s first release from the album, and everyone was going to see it, because with a nice shiny contract from Warner Bros. this song was going to be everywhere.

The video begins with a rather bored looking Billie Joe sitting on a couch in the basement of their terraced house in Oakland, watching TV. A spider monkey also adds to the comedy.

After scenes of the guys playing in the box-room bathroom, Billie starts to slash the sofa, leaving nothing but a skeletal sofa and artificial feather crap everywhere.

Kids hadn’t seen anything like this before. These three guys, barely out of their teens, they didn’t look anything like the artists that dominated the charts, and they certainly didn’t sound like it either.

“Longview” was just the beginning for Green Day.

5. “Welcome To Paradise”
Again, who hasn’t heard this? Originally recorded as part of Kerplunk!, “Welcome To Paradise” is another ‘I’m useless and pathetic’ song. This time round, it’s Billie writing to his mother, describing the strange new place that he, Mike and Tre had moved to.

It begins at the six-weeks-in mark with ‘Dear Mother, can you hear me whining?’ (Didn’t I tell you this band likes to whine?) And after a chorus and verse, which are equally negative about the area, and despite the line ‘For some strange reason, it’s now feeling like my home. And I’m never gonna go,’ the whole attitude of the song changes:

Dear mother, can you hear me laughing?

After 6 months of the place, the guys are still wondering why but they seem to be rather enjoying themselves. So, they’ve enlightened us once again. Moving out isn’t great at first, but sit it out and all will be well.

Hey, you might just end up some rich rock star! It worked for them, so why not you? This song makes me laugh and now, I really look forward to moving out and to where the world is simply your oyster.

6. “Pulling Teeth”
Now, this song has a pretty funny story behind it. It was at the time when Mike Dirnt was dating his long-term girlfriend who would go on to be his wife for a few years in 1996, Anastasia. They were having an innocent pillow fight and the injury-prone Mike managed to fall over and break his arm.

Tré made numerous jokes about Anastasia beating up poor old Mike, rather than him just having a bad fall, and Billie became inspired.

The song’s hilarious, and is just one big joke.

Accidents will happen
But this time I can’t get up

It’s just how pathetic this male character is. His girlfriend beats him up, but he’s too afraid to dump her, or at least say something about the situation.

Is she ultra-violent?
Is she disturbed?
I better tell her I love her
Before she does it all over again
OH GOD SHE’S KILLING ME!

How can you listen to that and not laugh? It’s pretty genius if you ask me, and this song quite possibly is my favourite from the album.

7. “Basket Case”
This song is about insanity and it’s equally insane within itself.

“Basket Case” is an awesome song to listen to, an awesome video to watch and an awesome one to perform yourself, for all the musicians out there.

It’s fast, fun and just, well, all over the place. As embodied in the video, the beginning is all twitchy and almost high tension, but then all hell breaks loose, with super fast drumming and thrashy guitar. You can jump around to this song and it’s completely punk style.

Pretty much everyone knows the meaning behind this song. Well, anyone who has an interest in Green Day, but even if you don’t know, it’s pretty obvious once you’ve listened to it.

Mike and Billie were beginning to suffer from panic attacks (a year or two later, poor old Billie would be diagnosed with a case of paranoia) and apparently, the only way they could understand and accept what was happening to them was to write a song about it. But in the end (no song title pun intended), Billie is credited as the writer of the lyrics, despite the fact it was a joint effort.

The song describes what it’s like having these panic attacks, how it affects those around them and this amusing idea, ‘Am I just paranoid, or am I just stoned?’ Many may argue that perhaps both of these things were happening.

Like I say, as a performer, this song is a great one to try and when I listen to it, it just makes me laugh how these two guys can make fun of themselves, because really, that’s what they’re doing. They really are insane.

8. “She”
This song is rather hard for me to explain. I know it’s about Billie Joe’s girlfriend at the time, but I don’t know much more of the story.

My guess is that this was a girl who was from a sort of, well-off background, or at least a respectable one, and wasn’t really allowed to be her own person. She felt so locked up, that it got a bit much.

The song’s a good’un though. Musically, it’s interesting with different uses of the instruments, blah, blah, blah. I’m not too sure what to write about it really. I think it’s quite a personal song, not to Billie but the girl.

I do like it though. At times, I feel as though I can relate to it and it’s nice to think that’s it’s a universal feeling!

9. “Sassafras Roots”
I think this is another of Armstrong’s attacks on his beloved Adrienne.

The lyrics ‘So why are you alone, wasting your time? When you could be with me, wasting your time?’ is a clear message, of course, but who its aimed at is uncertain to me.

Another reason why it could be about Adrienne (or ‘Adie’) is that there’s the line ‘Warding off regrets’ — Billie’s almost rubbing it in her face. Nice chap, eh?

It’s a short song and it’s a punchy song, but it’s good. And it’s really another song about boredom. When you’re bored, you’re wasting time. This is yet another song which I find difficult to comment on.

10. “When I Come Around”
Despite a confusing video, some say “When I Come Around” is a Green Day classic, but I believe it’s slightly over rated. It is a good song, but it’s not Green Day at their absolute best. It’s just Armstrong slagging off Adrienne, again!

This time, it’s more of a ‘you had a chance and I think you’re stupid to have thrown it away, but if you’re lucky, I might take you back’ feeling. If I’d been poor old Adie, back in 1993 (although, in reality, I hadn’t even been born yet when the album was released in February), then I’d have been sobbing my eyes out.

But, even though he was being harsh, Billie Joe was saying that he’d take her back, I think.

It is an alright song, just not one of my favourites. Most of the songs are pretty simple, no clever, complicated little guitar riffs or anything, but this song just seems to take it to the extreme.

It’s more about the lyrics I suppose; Armstrong, for once, was more interested in the lyrics than the music!

11. “Coming Clean”
This song is about admitting your sexuality. Both Armstrong and Tre Cool have said they’re bi-sexual, but this was about Billie expressing his uncertainty and also how scary it was to tell people about it.

Seventeen and strung out on confusion

Well, Mom and Dad will never understand

I should think most people go through a stage of confusion and even curiosity, and when someone decides they’re homosexual, or bisexual, then they can relate to this particularly.

But it doesn’t necessarily need be about admitting one’s sexuality. It could also be about any secret:

Secrets collecting dust but never forget
Skeletons come to life in my closet

I like this song. Not only are the words sympathetic, but it sounds sympathetic too. It’s still loud, thrashy Green Day-style, but it is quite melodic and in a bizarre undertone, it is quite gentle.

It’s almost a song for the youth. That sentence is rather cheesy, and I regret writing it, but it is true. I believe it’s one of the most apathetic songs Green Day have ever written.

Sure, it’s easy to relate to loads of their other tracks, but everyone can listen to this and say, ‘Yeh, I know what you mean.’

12. “Emenius Sleepus”
“Emenius Sleepius” wasn’t penned by Armstrong, but by bassist Mike Dirnt.

It’s about he saw an old friend that he’d not seen for quite a while, and it scared him how much the friend had changed:

What have you done with all your time
And what went wrong?

suggests that this friend of Mike’s wasn’t doing particularly great.

And now I think I’m sick and I wanna go home

I’m not sure if this is means he’s shocked at how terribly his friend’s life is going, or that he feels weird because he’s so different, like he isn’t the same as his friend, like they used to be.

But really, you feel sorry for poor ol’ Mike. It wouldn’t be too nice if the kid you’d been best friends with for, like, ever, turned up again and was completely different. It’d be kinda depressing, because you’d probably hate the guy now. I mean, everything you liked about him (or her) has gone and so you’re just left with this person who’s nothing like you, has no similar interests, aspirations or anything. I would not want to be in that situation. Ever.

13. “In The End”
Listen to the song, and you’d think it’s another attck on, by now, the rather crushed Adrienne. But no, you’d be wrong!

Armstrong has said that “In the End” is not about his own life, but about his mother’s. His father died when Billie was 11 and a few years later, his mother remarried to a man that neither Billie Joe nor his five siblings liked.

There had been a few songs in the previous albums with evidence of his dislike for his stepfather, but in this song he is almost trying to make his mother feel guilty.

Once you’ve discovered the meaning of this song, it’s rather uncomfortable listening. Billie Joe has always said that family means more than anything to him, and that he adores his mother, so this song is rather brutal and harsh.

14. “F.O.D. (Fuck Off And Die)”
This is an awesome song. I love it. It begins with Billie wildly beating on some acoustic guitar, saying similar things as “Emenius Sleepus” but less negative.

It’s more about just meeting up with someone, who, although they’ve changed since you were last with them, you can still have fun:

Let’s nuke the bridge we torched 2000 times before

Well, I use the term ‘fun’ loosely. But this cheery feeling of getting over the differences of time and distance soon disappears.

Enter electric guitar, bass and some super drumming and it’s all anger, hate and a general disgust:

You’re just a fuck
I can’t explain it ’cause I think you suck
I’m taking pride
In telling you to fuck off and die

Oh what wonderful chaps Green Day are! This verse can be of use to an angry teenager. But I’m not encouraging anyone to start saying it to people!

Jokes aside, this is a pretty good song. It’s a good one to listen to, especially after a stressful day or a day ruined by certain individuals.

15. “All By Myself” [hidden bonus track]
I used to think All By Myself was not only sung by, but also written by, Tré. But after further research, I discovered it was actually written by Billie. Which is, to a fan like myself, almost hard to swallow, if you’ll excuse the dirty pun there.

This song is just plain silly. It’s the guys messing about and having a laugh. It’s one of those songs that are at the end of a record, and you have to leave the track before (in this case, “FOD”) running for ages until this small nugget of gold begins.

It’s a little ditty about Billie and his not-so-great love life. Mr. Cool performs it brilliantly, making you laugh like the comedian he is. It’s an awesome ‘song’, if you can call it that. But perhaps it wouldn’t be a good idea to play it to your parents.

But then again, should you play any of this album to them? Hell yeah!

Dookie by Green Day

“Burnout”

“Having A Blast”

“Chump”

“Longview”

“Welcome To Paradise”

“Pulling Teeth”

“Basket Case”

“She”

“Sassafras Roots”

“When I Come Around”

“Coming Clean”

“Emenius Sleepus”

“In The End”

“F.O.D. (Fuck Off And Die)”

“All By Myself” [hidden bonus track]

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