Why I Still Love Green Day's Dookie, 20 Years Later

dookie412.jpg
By Steve Steward
Song associations are strange, because when I hear "Longview" by Green Day, I think of Rosemarie Sandoval's hair. We were both sophomores, sharing a table in Mr. Nardinelli's 3rd period art class. I think she was almost a year older, and if she wasn't taller than me anyway, her bangs sure were. Between the towering, lacquered fan rising from her forehead, a wardrobe consisting entirely of Aztec-god-holding-naked-lady-over-a-low-rider t-shirts, and a constant array of hickies, Rosemarie kind of terrified me, especially when I saw her beat the shit out of some girl outside of Spanish the following spring.

Mr. Nard played the radio on a component stereo up behind his desk, and on that day, he switched it to KWOD 106.5 (Sacramento's New Rock Alternative). Rosemarie got super huffy about it. "Naaard!" she complained. "Why can't we just listen to oldies?" It was a commercial break, and when the DJ came back, he mentioned something about "the new one from Green Day." Rosemarie spent the rest of the period sulking and patting her bangs in front of her compact; I busily worked on my upside-down Picasso drawing, until Mike Dirnt's bass intro wandered out of the speakers and into my brain forever.

Until then, I'd never heard of Green Day, because it was 1994 and I was still stuck on Physical Graffiti and Siamese Dream, but on that day, I went home after school and turned on MTV. During the ninety minutes between the end of school and the start of swim practice, I saw the video for "Longview" at least 900 times, or it seems that way because after 20 years, it feels like Dookie, the album from which "Longview" and four other top-ten singles sprang, has always been around, like the Rolling Stones or Pat Sajak. It was like one day there was no Dookie and then the next day nobody didn't have a copy, poring over the mysterious in-jokes buried in the cover.

And that cover! Dogs burying the world in shit! It was like a deliberately half-assed Where's Waldo drawing done by a Garbage Pail Kid. I still think the cover of NOFX's The Longest Line is better and funnier, but Dookie's CD liner is the one I more accurately recreate in my brain. Did you have a CD with the Ernie doll on the back? Did you wonder if bringing a plush toy to a mosh pit was a regular thing to do at Berkeley punk shows? Because I did, though I never asked any of these older kids I hung out with at lunch who'd actually seen Green Day ("like a bunch of times"), at the Gilman Theater, the Vatican of East Bay punk. These know-it-all kids insisted that Kerplunk! was way better than Dookie, preaching an anti-sellout gospel I'd later learn came from the cult of Tim Yohannon, founder of Maximum Rock 'n' Roll.

Admittedly, I bought into the sermon, a credo that delineated what was underground and sanctified and what was for poseurs, like a diet from Leviticus except about Lookout! seven inches, but a couple of years later, when I took up bass, I quit caring, because "Longview" was the first thing I attempted. Of course, that song is deceptively difficult, as is pretty much everything Green Day plays. To dismiss Dookie is like dismissing the White Album. I can't say I revere either, but the power of their hooks and the constant murmur of their bass lines are part of what makes them sound as fresh as ever.

Continue to page two for more.


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49 comments
Marc Chambers
Marc Chambers

I was already old when this came out and still bought the cassette.

Mindi Elizabeth
Mindi Elizabeth

Rebecca Stevens Lyndsay Harris-Campbell yall bitches old

Jon Jon
Jon Jon

pop punk has always been terrible and has always been 'pop' my first girlfriend's little brother liked this stuff... i was listening to Slayer and Ministry. I have no idea why I commenting... hahaha

Natalie Emmons
Natalie Emmons

this DOES make me feel old, considering I had this on a cassette tape.

Jeremy Brooks
Jeremy Brooks

Call it whatever you want. I call it a must-own.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Who gives a fuck? The real question is "Is it good music?" that's the real question.

Adam Sparks
Adam Sparks

It was not the sex pistols but It was, more or less punk and hinted of things to come. No matter how unimpressed I was by their later efforts. This was good record.

Cat Blade
Cat Blade

One should never malign this band with punk, anyway. StL punks are white trash. I grew up with them. They were some of the harshest, most emotionally (and at times physically) abusive hillbillies this side of the greater metro area. They were elite - and stunted - in their musical choices. They were also a strange divide between poorly educated and over-privileged hipsters. They were calculated, mean-spirited, drunk, prone to violence, cruel, irritable - basically the poster children for what a real bully is. Between bashing each other in the face over petty differences, smashing up their ex-girlfriends' cars, selling drugs to kids, and ganging up on people either via physical force or by harassing said targets online with "why-don't-you-kill-yourself's" - these people were far from the awesome/amazing punk rockers we imagine lounging alongside a rather long and prolific musical genre. After so many years, most of them formed gangs (or "crews" as they called them). They carried around baseball bats and retractable nightsticks, hoping to get into a fight and hurt another person. Due to the overwhelming network they'd built, it took me a while to cut all ties to those monsters and their mutual friends - they definitely ruined whatever "punk" was supposed to be. And they ruined a lot of other people's lives in the process.

Andrew Michael Felder
Andrew Michael Felder

It sure seemed like 'punk' to a 7 year old kid from the suburbs who had to sneak around his brothers room to listen to it. And when your parents overhead you singing about masturbation and methanphetimin when you didn't know any better it was perceived to be the raddest thing you ever heard without the context of music history. And the MTV videos...nothing else was as raw as the guys in a mental hospital bouncing off the walls. And yes, 'punk' is a mentality not a sound. CBGB is punk and nobody there sounded like NOFX.

Jason Charney
Jason Charney

If your music is in a Broadway show, it is not punk rock.

Lynn Pevey
Lynn Pevey

Labels aside....It's great music and that is all that should matter. :D

Trista DiGiuseppi
Trista DiGiuseppi

NOoooo. Egg whites. Of course one guy I knew insisted he used his own semen. Brings a whole new level to "crust punk".

Courtney Cronin
Courtney Cronin

Hairspray? Tru punx use Elmer's glue on their liberty spikes.

Tim Ogden
Tim Ogden

Why is this even still debated? Do you folks honestly give a shit? If you think it's a good record then listen to it. If you don't, continue listening to One Direction, whatever floats your tugboat. I thought punk was a community based mentality, not one that pisses and moans about a songs' beats per minute.

Joan Reeves
Joan Reeves

It doesn't have to be, I still love it.

Kyle Jones
Kyle Jones

NO. It's shit sammich and damn the fools for thinking it's punk. It could be called Pop very easily with 3 chord wonders.

Trista DiGiuseppi
Trista DiGiuseppi

I remember years' worth of listening to some asinine "punk rawkers" getting their vaginas into a tangle over Green Day. "IT IS NOT PUNK. REJECTED." Then they'd go listen to their shitty basement-music, feeling wholly superior, wondering if they should buy more hairspray for their liberty spikes. Screw them. Green Day is an amazing band, nostalgic, talented, fun, and they were obviously inspired by bands like The Ramones etc. People refer to the Ramones as punk and they are no more formulaic/upbeat/poppy than Green Day. Also - music labels ...kinda pointless now. Because - internet. Listen to whatever you want.

Elissa Peskay
Elissa Peskay

I was just thinking about Dookie yesterday! Karmic.

Travis White
Travis White

light punk pop if there is such a thing. Its not country, so that's good.

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

is there a reason we insist on putting lables on music?

Eammon Azizi
Eammon Azizi

RFT Music logic: Did Tommy Stinson play on it? Because if he did, it's probably shi* because he plays in Guns N' Roses.

Ryan Mackley
Ryan Mackley

That was the big question back in the day. They say they never claimed to be punk, yet played in all the same clubs with all of the same bands that claimed to be punk. That is why there was a huge backlash when then started getting bigger. The fans felt used.

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