I wasn't one of those kids that grew up with punk in their veins. I discovered Green Day in 2004 when I was 11 years old. Had I known what a profound impact their music would have on me, I'd have gotten to know them a lot sooner.
Dookie is a record that I discovered around the same time. Though it was nearly 10 years old when I first heard it, it always seemed fresh to me. That's how you know an album is good, it never gets old.
Much like the greats before them, Green Day took punk and turned it into a national treasure for kids who were growing up and out in all the wrong directions. I remember days spent looking out my suburban windows, dreaming of something more, something real.
Released on February 1st, 1994, Dookie put music and lyrics to a feeling that most of us have when we're growing up: hopelessness, apathy, loneliness, confusion. These songs take place in a headspace where the future is indefinite, life is going by too slowly and yet everyone is bitching at you to move faster. I had never known anyone else who felt this way, until I listened to Green Day.
Although American Idiot set the standard for us millennials as the record that defined our generation politically and culturally, there was something indescribably perfect about Dookie, an album that nearly out aged us all.
Songs like "Sassafras Roots" and "Pulling Teeth" bring up those awkward first moments of love and wasting time with someone you might not know in 10 years. "Longview" makes you remember the boredom and isolation of being a young person.
"Basket Case" became the anthem for millions of kids who were cast off as undesirable, kooky or too off-kilter to function. These feelings ebb and flow, they grow and change, but underneath everything...including 22 years of shit, they're still there.
Burnouts and degenerates of every generation can bond over these songs. Whether you're 13 or 35 some of those feelings still exist.
I doubt that they knew this at the time, but when Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt made this record they went down in history as three punks from the Bay (my current home) who changed everything.
I'm now a 23 year old working professional. I'm still a musician, and I'm definitely still a punk. I still feel left out and lonely. I still have the same irrational fire and guilt for my generation locked away in my anxiety riddled brain, and whenever I put this record on, I remember that 22 years ago three dudes from the Bay felt the exact same way.
In 22 years, both Dookie an I have done a lot of growing up. As more and more kids discover the power of this album, the ones who were there at the beginning are starting families, making money and continuing the legacy of their parents...whom they either resented or just didn't understand in 1994. It's funny how life works. It's so cyclical.
Now, as I look out at where I've ended up, I have to credit Green Day, and this album for some of it.
The individuality I gained through this music has afforded me incredible opportunities. Green Day helped me develop my world view: embracing the chaos, letting go of the future and reveling in hopeless youth. We're still the same people, just in a different time. And life goes on, losers grow up, but the truth still remains...and its in these songs.
This album is still a love letter to all the lost kids out there, and 22 years on, as more and more of us find our way, the band included, there's something really beautiful about being lost.