When I was a junior in high school, I walked into a record store and was perusing when I was approached by an employee. We got to talking and I shared with him my love of punk rock. We chatted about Iggy Pop, The Ramones, The Misfits, Black Flag, and The Clash. While chatting, he asked if I had heard of a band called “Green Day.” I was not up to date on new bands, so I hadn’t heard of them. He walked over and pulled a Green Day album, Kerplunk. He said it was sort of “pop-punk,” and was great. I bought it and took it home. This was back when you listened to an entire album. I placed it in my stereo and sat back on the floor. That day, I became a Green Day fan.
A few years later, Green Day released their 3rd album, Dookie. I picked it up as soon as it came out. As I listened to that album, Green Day became my favorite band. The album had it all. Great rock anthems, hard drums and guitars, meaningful lyrics and fun lyrics, and an all-around great sound.
Another album Insomniac, came out in 95 and then Nimrod came out in 97. In 97, I was in college (I didn’t go right after HS). I picked up Nimrod and was listening to the complete album in my dorm room. Then, track 17 kicked on. Many people have heard “Good Riddance, Time of Your Life.” It’s a beautiful, sad ballad. Unlike anything they played before. After I heard the song the first time, I replayed it.
Billy Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of Green Day, wrote the song after a breakup. Armstrong shared his sadness that the relationship was over as he looked back on where he’d been. I wasn’t dealing with a break-up when I heard the song for the first time, but I was in a limbo state. These lyrics hit; “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go. So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why. It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time. It’s something unpredictable. But in the end, it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.” After the song, I reflected on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I shared the song with everyone who was willing to listen.
In 2000, Warning, came out and there seemed to be more of a political edge to the album. Like me, Green Day was maturing. A level of seriousness came out of the speakers that I hadn’t heard from them before. Which lead to American Idiot coming out in 2004. American Idiot is one of my favorite albums of all time. Every song on the album is golden. The album won all the awards and put Green Day on everyone’s favorite list. Green Day eventually would make American Idiot into a musical. I got to see the show on Broadway and was lucky enough to be there on a night when Billy Joe Armstrong played the character St. Jimmy.
More albums followed and I purchased everyone. The age changed, so I wasn’t purchasing hard copies. I was downloading albums and listening that way. I still listen to the entire albums instead of shuffling through playlists.
Something else happened as I grew up listening to Green Day. I became a dad. In 2004, I welcomed my first child. It was night and the maternity ward was quiet, except for a few infant cries coming from down the hall. I held my son while sitting in a chair next to a window that overlooked New York City. His mother was resting and I studied my new boy’s face. I opened my mouth and whispered the lyrics, “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road…” I would sing “Good Riddance, Time of Your Life,” to all 4 of my kids on the first day of their lives and throughout their childhood. In fact, I’m still singing the song to my 8-year-old at night. I’ve sung that song hundreds of times next to my children’s beds.
As much as I love Green Day, I had never seen them in concert. Every year, I would check to see where they are playing and then decide I shouldn’t spend the money on concert tickets when there are so many expenses when you have 4 kids. Seeing Green Day was a dream, but I figured I would settle for watching them on TV and on YouTube.
Earlier this year, a friend and I were discussing bucket lists. I brought up I was a huge Green Day fan but have never seen them live. We chatted more and soon my phone was in my hand and I was checking concert dates. Green Day was playing in September at the Louder Than Life Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. My fingers tapped “purchase.”
The day finally arrived and my friends and I were standing in the crowd to watch Green Day hit the stage. The festival had been tremendous, with bands like Foo Fighters, Flogging Molly, Weezer, Tool, and many other great acts. The final performance of the festival was Green Day. I waited impatiently for them to take the stage. Then, the band walked out onto the stage and opened with “American Idiot.” I knew every song they played by heart and was even jealous when they invited a kid to come on stage with them to sing a song.
During the concert, I walked back and forth from where my group was to the front of the stage. Green Day live was everything I hoped they would be. Every song hit. Some songs, I was back to being a junior in high school and others took me back to having political angst. For 2 hours, I danced and sang loudly.
The night drew to a close and Green Day got quiet. Billy Joe’s fingers strummed on the guitar for the last song. The first chords excited the crowd and then he sang, “Another turning point…” I walked closer and held up my phone to capture the music as I sang along with the band. This time, it did not take me back to a year or even a specific moment. In my heart, I was with my kids. Singing to them as I did countless times by their pillows. Tears filled my eyes and a few trickled down.
Green day said, “good night,” and left the stage. Lights came up and people exited. I texted my kids and shared the video with them. What ensued after that was a fun text exchange with 3 of my 4 kids. My oldest is in the Army and I was thankful he could see the video I had sent him. My second oldest asked if I had too much to drink. I hadn’t.
The concert helped me to remember how much music has meant to me over the years. In high school, it was a way of sharing how I feel when I didn’t have the words myself. In college, it was a way to experience fun and for quiet reflection when nobody was looking. As a young adult, it was a way to pump me up and get through the day. As a dad, a way to soothe my children and stay in touch with people outside my isolated home. And now, a way to reflect on who I’ve been, where I’ve been, and the potential for tomorrow. And Green Day has been there to guide me through all of it.
@Green Day is my favorite band of all time. I sang Good Riddance, Time of Your Life at bedtime to all 4 of my kids. I got a little teary eyed thinking about them as Green Day plsyed my favorite lullaby. #music #greenday #dadlife #concert