Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Basket Case by Green Day

Grammy winner, concept album, protest music, Broadway show.

These are all phrases that describe Green Day of 2010. Is there anything in the Green Day of 1994 that would give us anyone clue of the greatness and the level of cultural relevance that Green Day would achieve 15 years later? I don't know but I always knew there was something special about Green Day even in middle school.

In 1994, there was the explosion of Grunge Music. This genre of music took Punk music added a layer of distortion, teen angst and cynicism to create a sub-culture that was both plaid, baggy and lacked the use of shampoo on a regular basis. Among the Grunge groups there were other bands that were grouped into this genre like that really were something different and one of those groups was Green Day.

Instead of creating a darker distortion of punk music, Green Day continued the tradition of punk from groups like the Ramones creating simple songs that were short, fun and featured pop influenced melodies. This is why many people beyond the alternative crowd found "Basket Case" appealing and why it has endured as one of there most popular song.

There is something special about the opening of this song. 22 year old Billy Joel Armstrong accompanied by his guitar inquiring to the world "Do you have the time to listen to me whine?" The statement is aggressive and brave. He's putting himself out there hiding behind nothing, simply speaking his mind and expressing from the heart.

What Armstrong is expressing isn’t exactly something that you would think is be an anthem but it is. This song is about embracing the things about ourselves that other people see as flaws. Yes, I’m melodramatic and neurotic, and it’s so bad “sometimes I give myself the creeps.”  While the lyrics wonder about what it means to crazy the music embracing the question “Am I just paranoid?” like a victorious call.

This song builds like symphony adding layers of instruments with an unforgiving driving pulse that never lets go of our attention. The sounds can be replicated on stage and knowing this creates a connection with the audeince. It’s not just art in a studio, it’s something that is alive and like great folk music that makes it mean something more.

People who others called crazy are responsible for all the greatest accomplishments in history. We all dream big and hope to try something that people haven’t done before. “Basket Case” is the reaction we need to remember and reminding ourselves that we may be cracking up, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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