Sunday
May302004

« The End is Near (Music Review) »

Okay. Punk rock apparently has just died. Can someone finally put the fuggin' nail in the coffin, and can we move on now?

To start off, it is my opinion that punk was viable as a rebellious force in the late 70s, and maybe the early 80s. At that point, the punks were giving the finger to my favorite bands. The vibrancy that punk had then was relevant and may have actually had some purpose. Now, I happen to think bands like Jethro Tull were doing some impressive stuff at the time punk exploded on the scene, but I am not particularly a prog head. Tull have been a favorite band of mine for 15 years now, and more and more, when I listen to the stuff they were doing when punk was supposedly making them obsolete, I hear more and more depth in their music. I never liked a single punk band, nor the idea of it as "music," though I know that I need to allow it to be called that.

Anyhow, Green Day, something like a 3rd generation punk band (I barely want to call them punk but there are few other pigeonholes for them—punk flavored pop is apt), is now apparently making a "rock opera." Yes, a rock opera. For those too young to remember, the rock opera was the sort of musically bombastic thing that the first generation of punks rebelled against. The rock opera is not punk. Let me repeat that. NOT punk. It is more of a rock band playing and writing things that are more akin to—gasp!—music that old fogies liked. Granted, I would usually prefer to hear a rock band rip off a theatrical sound than the opposite. The first rock opera was "Tommy" by The Who. Ironically, some consider The Who to be the proto-punks, giving social commentary through songs (that would only appeal to young people) a good 15 years before punk really got off the ground. They did "Tommy" and actually had a good career after that for another decade till Moon died, and even beyond that in some altered form. Okay, some can do a rock opera and get away with it. It helps if you are the first on your block though, because after that, it does indeed become a cliche.

Ever since I first heard Green Day in 1994, I have just poopooed them. They were 3rd generation. There was the original stuff in 76-77 in England, and then the California scene in the early 80s, etc. This was about 10 years after that. Even if I have my facts wrong, as far as I am concerned, Green Day was a sellout. They and The Offspring both were major label bands that were on MTV and every other mass media outlet possible. Okay, they were loud and sort of annoying, but really? I know of soccer moms that were getting into them, thinking it was rebellious. The annoying part for me was not that they were playing less complex stuff than my old standby bands, but that they were totally posing. Sure, the instruments were still guitar, bass and drums, and a rude sounding vocalist, but really... whatever happened to punk being underground, anyway? The whole appeal of punk was that it was rude, savage, and not given to the demands or expectations of the market. It spoke in a visceral way to people who were able to hear and appreciate it. It was a secret handshake between band and listeners.

Green Day was just pabulum with an attitude. So, if they were ever punk, I can't imagine them being so now. Punk and a million offshoots have already been dead for years, but finally commiting the grave sin of making a rock opera album... that is punishable by death. That's like sleeping with the enemy. What is next? Are we going to see tours like Lollapalooza with Green Day, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and whatever new artists are created from this demonic union? I mean, if fate leads us to that, then George Bush and Bill Clinton should be able to give each other um, service with a smile!

If Green Day or any other posers can give me something with the musical and compositional depth of one Tull song from the 70s (maybe off Songs From The Wood), I will eat this essay. But if Blink 182 makes a concept album or a rock opera, can someone just shoot me?

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