Why I Still Love Green Day's Dookie, 20 Years After Its Release

Categories: Commentary

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Song associations are strange, because when I hear "Longview" by Green Day, I think of Rosemarie Sandoval's hair. We were both sophomores, sharing a table in Mr. Nardinelli's 3rd period art class. I think she was almost a year older, and if she wasn't taller than me anyway, her bangs sure were. Between the towering, lacquered fan rising from her forehead, a wardrobe consisting entirely of Aztec-god-holding-naked-lady-over-a-low-rider t-shirts, and a constant array of hickies, Rosemarie kind of terrified me, especially when I saw her beat the shit out of some girl outside of Spanish the following spring.

Mr. Nard played the radio on a component stereo up behind his desk, and on that day, he switched it to KWOD 106.5 (Sacramento's New Rock Alternative). Rosemarie got super huffy about it. "Naaard!" she complained. "Why can't we just listen to oldies?" It was a commercial break, and when the DJ came back, he mentioned something about "the new one from Green Day." Rosemarie spent the rest of the period sulking and patting her bangs in front of her compact; I busily worked on my upside-down Picasso drawing, until Mike Dirnt's bass intro wandered out of the speakers and into my brain forever.

Until then, I'd never heard of Green Day, because it was 1994 and I was still stuck on Physical Graffiti and Siamese Dream, but on that day, I went home after school and turned on MTV. During the ninety minutes between the end of school and the start of swim practice, I saw the video for "Longview" at least 900 times, or it seems that way because after 20 years, it feels like Dookie, the album from which "Longview" and four other top-ten singles sprang, has always been around, like the Rolling Stones or Pat Sajak. It was like one day there was no Dookie and then the next day nobody didn't have a copy, poring over the mysterious in-jokes buried in the cover.

And that cover! Dogs burying the world in shit! It was like a deliberately half-assed Where's Waldo drawing done by a Garbage Pail Kid. I still think the cover of NOFX's The Longest Line is better and funnier, but Dookie's CD liner is the one I more accurately recreate in my brain. Did you have a CD with the Ernie doll on the back? Did you wonder if bringing a plush toy to a mosh pit was a regular thing to do at Berkeley punk shows? Because I did, though I never asked any of these older kids I hung out with at lunch who'd actually seen Green Day ("like a bunch of times"), at the Gilman Theater, the Vatican of East Bay punk. These know-it-all kids insisted that Kerplunk! was way better than Dookie, preaching an anti-sellout gospel I'd later learn came from the cult of Tim Yohannon, founder of Maximum Rock 'n' Roll.

Admittedly, I bought into the sermon, a credo that delineated what was underground and sanctified and what was for poseurs, like a diet from Leviticus except about Lookout! seven inches, but a couple of years later, when I took up bass, I quit caring, because "Longview" was the first thing I attempted. Of course, that song is deceptively difficult, as is pretty much everything Green Day plays. To dismiss Dookie is like dismissing the White Album. I can't say I revere either, but the power of their hooks and the constant murmur of their bass lines are part of what makes them sound as fresh as ever.


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17 comments
GAA214
GAA214

I was in the 3rd grade and this is the first cassette tape I purchased.  It was blue. lol. 

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

It's still a good record. It's not earth shattering, but for it's time and place it was damn good and introduced a lot of people to a lot of really good music. I was a few years younger than the author and entering junior high when Dookie came out.


If you were a junior high kid finding his way with music, this record was a big step in much the same way Van Halen's 1984 was a decade earlier. You've got to think back to the time and circumstance to understand it. If you were a kid in Dallas in 1994 you had basically three radio  stations for rock: Q102, The Edge, and The Eagle (KNON was a bit out there, and KXT didn't exist). If you wanted to buy a fringe record your choices were pretty much Bill's (which was still in Richardson) or CD World off Mockingbird. If you wanted to see a show, outside of the occasional all-ages afternoon shows at Galaxy Club or Orbit Room, your choices were the mainstream large venues. And the internet was just starting to become a thing as people that had it were slowly upgrading from their 2400 baud modems.


So a lot of kids did exactly what I did. You heard Nirvana and then backtracked to influences like Sonic Youth or Mudhoney, you heard Green Day and you backtracked to punk bands like NOFX. If memory serves Rancid's "And Out Come The Wolves" was big around the same time, and that leads you to Operation Ivy or The Germs. Mainstream doesn't mean bad, especially if you worked backwards to the smaller indie bands which at that age was by the easiest way to learn about new music.


It's not my favorite record by any stretch, but it had a very large impact on my exposure to music and I know I'm not the only one.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

To me, after Dookie was released, punk FINALLY was recognized as a true music genre;  before that, it was minor hits with The Replacements, some Clash, pre-punk (the Faces), etc. Dookie made punk a viable art form. 

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

I second the queers...love songs for the retarded....better than any Green Day release...plus the guys dont wear eye liner

Steeve
Steeve

Green Day is a chick band, for dumb bitches who don't mind that fucking idiot's fake English accent.  Little pussies.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@P1Gunter  


"this record was a big step in much the same way Van Halen's 1984 was a decade earlier".............................NO.........................VH was a giant, smelly pile of shite compared to what I liked; who needed the mindf*ck called VH when you had The Dead Milkmen, REM, U2, etc.?


ps-Never forget the 500 Club!

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Steeve 


I hope you don't eat with the same mouth you speak with; sure, they are a bit watered down and pretentious-but it is what it is.


Alot of bands were better, but most people can't relate to Black Flag and Circle Jerks like we can........and that's alright. 

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@kergo1spaceship @P1Gunter Holmes, I grew up in the '90s. I fucking hated Van Halen. They were old news by then, but that doesn't mean I can't respect a kid from 1984 loving it. It is not a great, or really even a good, record.....but it has it's place.


I just don't understand shitting all over a 20/30 year old record  if it brought kids into the musical fold. If it led a kid to the Dead Milkmen, then it was good. If it led a kid to start a punk rock band and explore punk music, it was good. Likewise, if 1984 led a kid to start a shitty hair metal band and find Metallica, it was also good.


My point was just the context of a record. In my 30s Dookie is a silly record, But a Sunny Day Real Estate record from the same time I would have thought sucked then. Green Day led me to a lot of great punk bands, whereas SDRE I didn't really discover until college. All the genre related crap comes down to a kid and an internet search now, that wasn't the cash in 1994. Back to my earlier example, I'd never even heard of Sonic Youth until.Nirvana's Nevermind broke. That's just how it was back then.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@becoolerifyoudid @kergo1spaceship 


"Essatly" (like Emmitt Smith), because you had hardcore, pop punk (Bob Mould), bands influenced by punk (REM, U2), Cowpunk (Long Ryders); so, the debate was on after Dookie! Now you have thrash, post trash, steam punk, post punk, post hardcore, screamo, thrash metal, pseudo metal punk, and ON and ON........

Shitester
Shitester

Big time wrong on the original Van Halen, you delusional fuck. The original Van Halen ruled the fucking roost from 78-84. You might hate them personally Q boy, but that doesn't seem relevant to the facts, you pathetic wretch...

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@P1Gunter @kergo1spaceship  


Hey Holmes,


All that is great,but Van Halen was for kids that had "they" heads stomped on by a lowland gorilla; we use to laugh at hose kids-and no, nothing good has ever come from VH, and 1984. 

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