Saturday, February 26, 2005

mompoet sound journal #6

american idiot
Green Day
2004 Reprise Records

When I asked my husband for a contribution to my listening project, I was pretty specific. (That's nothing new, he would say.) I wanted something less girly than the other things I had listened to so far. Okay. Mozart isn't girly, but I was looking for a bit of testosterone jolt, I guess. Andy had lots to choose from. He has a big CD collection: alternative, country and any 80s new wave that he can find on CD. Andy loved new wave in the 80s, and still does. We have hundreds of vinyl records that we'll never get rid of, partly because of nostalgia, partly because he'll never find those artists or songs on a CD. Maybe I'll start with a history of music, my husband and me.

I met Andy when we were teenagers. He loved music, but not the kind I listened to. I blame him for convincing me that the Beatles were awful and Elton John is bad. (I have got over it.) When I met him he liked Aerosmith, Foghat, Montrose, Deep Purple and KISS. His brother worked at Kelly's record store. Between the two of them they must have bought at least 2 albums a week. They made mix tapes and had parties with big speakers and they listened in the car all the time. I spent a lot of my time with him in record stores and stereo stores and listening, listening, listening. When I finished university and moved in with him, we had a d.j. stand in our living room, with two turntables and a mixboard. He taught me to use it, which was very handy because I was teaching aerobics classes. I had some very cool workout tapes. By this time, we were both hanging out at the Luvafair and various other clubs which I forget, but it was very exciting and loud. We saw the Romantics and Duran Duran and DEVO and Depeche Mode in concert and many other bands that you now hear on the canned music at Safeway, which is very weird.

Time passed, we got a house and had babies. The d.j. booth went away to make room for a crib. Life got busy. New wave was over. Andy's brother got into the country scene. Andy started listening to country music. I lost my taste for most synthesised sound, which Andy still loves, and I just couldn't figure out country. But it was less of a factor in our lives, with the kids keeping us busy and tired, our age, budget and Andy's schedule and the cost of babysitters phasing out the night club/concert part of our life. We still have the turntables and mix board but they are not hooked up. Four big people in a small house means less time to listen to the stereo without someone complaining that they are studying, or that's gross music, turn it down. Andy listens in his car and now I'm listening in mine. Andy listens to internet radio and we play cds at the computer too. One day the kids (who usually go to bed after we do these days) will move out. Maybe then our house will be full of tunes again. For now it's just a bit here and there.

Anyway, Green Day was in his car and on his mind, so Andy suggested that I listen. Green Day is a California band that's been around since the mid-nineties: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool. You can find out more about them on their website.

Andy says Green Day reminds him a bit of the Beatles and also the Pointed Sticks. They remind me a bit of the Ramones and a band called Rational Youth. They are noisy punk rock but not aggressively so. I think I called their sound "earnest" in an earlier post, and I'll stick by that. (I'll also stick by "adorable.") This is music that boys like to sing along to, I think. The sound is straightforward and simple, guitar, bass and drums. There are big noisy walls of sound and manic rhythms and catchy tunes that make you want to jump up and down and yell. Some are super fast and punchy. Others can only be described as "torch-osterone," slow and sentimental, but in a guy way. And parts are definitely tongue-in-cheek, like "Rock and Roll Girlfriend" in the song "Homecoming." The album is described as "a concept album." I think this means that it's not just a collection of great songs. It's all tied together with common themes, repetition of musical elements and ideas, and a cast of very good characters (whats'ername, Jimmy, Jesus of Suburbia) It's full of great lyrics like these from "She's a Rebel,"

She's the symbol
of resistance
and she's holding on my
heart like a hand grenade

And how about this from "St. Jimmy"

St. Jimmy's coming down across the alleyway
Upon the boulevard like a zip gun on parade
Light of a silhouette, he's insubordinate
Coming at you on the count of 1, 2, 3, 4
My name is Jimmy and you better not wear it out
Suicide commando that your momma talked about
King of the 40 thieves and I'm to represent
The needle in the vein of the establishment

Gosh it's fun listening. That's all! So it turns out in the middle of my listening Green Day got a bunch of grammies which I think is good, but also disappointing that I found out about them after they became popular. But then, it's not the 80s anymore.

Thank you Andy for the t-injection to my music project. Next up: something from the three albums that Vicky loaned me. (I'm putting you in the multiples column, my friend. One day I will write a thesis about it.)

Question: Who has time for a rock and roll girlfriend, anyway?

mompoet - that's my name - don't wear it out!

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