Giving thanks for Kerplunk! by Green Day
In what's become an annual tradition for us, we ask a few members of Team Backbeat to reflect on an album they're thankful for in honor of Thanksgiving.
In eighth grade, Green Day's song "Longview" exploded into my little world and got seemingly everyone I knew to start learning a couple power chords on their beginner Squier guitars. While the band's platinum-selling album Dookie took the world by storm, I quickly wore it out and hunted down their earlier work. In a pre-Internet world where most music was bought at the mall at Sam Goody, I finally managed to track down a copy of Kerplunk!.
The cartoonish artwork of a cute girl with a smiling flower ringer tee and a gun instantly appealed to my adolescent brain. The music inside changed my life. Here were songs written by guys just a little older than me, and they actually seemed to be romantic, adding an extra layer of physical crush on the band, as the guys at school seemed only interested in Metallica and setting things on fire. What a refreshing change of pace to hear guys yearning for women, actually wanting to be around them.
The songs are sincere, and honest, with Billie Joe Armstrong writing straight from his confused teenage heart. It is chock full of perfect pop punk ditties about hanging in the library, pining over crushes, and feeling like a total loser in high school. The production is great and the last few songs really blow me away, cuts from their first band, Sweet Children, when they were merely fifteen.
It seemed like they took my diary and put it to three loud power chords. "2,000 Light Years Away" pines for a woman who ended up becoming Armstrong's wife in real life. If that's not real, I don't know what is. Released by Lookout in 1992, the album sounds fresh today, pop hooks galore, three part harmonies and wearing your heart on your sleeve never go out of style.
Mike Dirnt sounds seasoned beyond his years -- his bass line on "80" is simple but perfect -- and Tré Cool somehow manages to drum that fine line between utter youthful energetic chaos and keeping a steady backbone. "Welcome to Paradise" makes it's first appearance here, a bittersweet biographical narrative about living in abandoned warehouses with other punks and squatters in West Oakland (how cool!) that made it's way into a hit off Dookie.
"Christie Road" is a gorgeous midtempo ballad, Armstrong's voice hitting poignant high notes as the bridge hits and the ratatat of straight rock chords swirls the ending up into almost an entirely new song. "Dominated Love Slave" gave Cool the chance to come from behind the drums and show how multi-talented and bathroom-humored he was.