Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crisis of Identity: Green Day and Me

I'm not precisely sure why I am choosing to share THIS of all the stuff I have been writing privately over the last year, but I guess something in me wonders if anyone else might be interested or find it useful or just more generally what responses I might get.  Like, honestly, this is kinda trivial in a way.  Maybe that's why, maybe it's a safer thing to share, sort of.  Anyway, whatever, the point is: I went to a Green Day show tonight and it brought to the surface things I have been feeling for a while but did (well, DO) not want to admit to myself.

I am not connecting with Green Day like I used to.

Let me put this in context: Green Day has been my favorite band since I was about ten years old. So for almost two decades now.  Their being my favorite band is a huge component of who-I-am and how I understand myself.  Their albums have gotten me through (quite literally) the worst times in my life; from coming to terms with my depression and self-hate as an adolescent to coping with my aunt's murder in 2009, and everything in between.  Every album has had something important to say about something that was core to my life at the time that I heard it.

Except this latest one.

I mean there are some good songs on it (and just to make it easy I'm talking about Uno, Dos, Tre! as one album), songs that have gone into rotation as some of my favorites.  But, with the exception maybe of Stay the Night, none have spoken to me in that way that was unique between me and Green Day's music; songs that talked to me about something I needed to hear before I knew I needed it.  Or that said something about myself/my life that I was only just coming to understand.  More generally, and more troubling to me, is that this is the first album that has had songs on it I actively dislike and don't want to listen to, EVER.  I mean it's only one or two but literally that has never happened before.  Even worse, apparently some of the stuff they think is their best on that album, I'm indifferent to at best (like 99 Revolutions).  But, generally, I've been purposefully ignoring this and refusing to admit it to myself.

That ended tonight.

I went to the Green Day show tonight in Berkeley.  It was good.  It was what I have come to expect.  It was familiar in a way that I have found comforting in the past.

But it wasn't what their shows usually are for me.

Generally, going to a Green Day show for me is like going to Church (or rather what going to Church should be).  I feel super connected to the larger world/life/the gods and dance and sing my heart out like no one is watching (a state of bliss I basically never otherwise achieve).  While I had a good time tonight, that feeling did not emerge.  Out of 8 shows I have been do over the past 12 years, this is the first time I haven't felt that way.  And on reflection that really shook me.  Now...maybe this is the case because I did something different this time and went down on the floor and ended up contending with moshpits and almost getting crushed to death for the first half of the show.  That context did make the show hard to enjoy at times, although seeing them pretty up close for the first time was worth it.

But also the show was basically the same one that I've been going to since 2004.

I mean obviously there are some differences in song choices... They've had a couple albums come out since then.  BUT, largely the format (and many of the songs) have stayed the same.  And where that familiarity has been comforting in the past, this time it was...not boring...but less exciting and meaningful than previous.  If you listen to Bullet in a Bible you'll basically hear this same show.

Something has changed; I'm just not sure if it's them or it's me.

I felt this when Billie Joe went into rehab too - like that maybe they are becoming cliche old rock stars. Not totally happy with themselves because their brilliance is spent or in hiding because being-a-rock-star is so much work inofitself that how do you find time for your mental health or family or inspiration?  And so you just keep doing what you've been doing even though you know deep down it's getting stale.  The possibility that this is happening to Green Day quite frankly frightens me.  I fear this is part of why I am not connecting with their music as I once did.  Along similar lines, while I have been deepening my political understandings, theirs seem to have lost some of the incisiveness of American Idiot (and even 21st Century Breakdown); again 99 Revolutions comes to mind.

And to be PERFECTLY clear, I don't think this is about "selling out;" that whole conversation completely annoys me.

But I do wonder how they may have compromised themselves or lost perspective on who they are and what they do and their place in the universe over the years.  And I do wonder how that is effecting their mental health and creativity.  And I think some of that can be found in Billie Joe's stint in rehab, or more accurately, the things that led to him getting to that point (according to his recent Rolling Stone interview).  But here's the reason I have been running away from even allowing myself to voice any of this in my own head much less aloud:


That might sound completely ABSURD and SILLY but I am very serious.  I mean, go back up to my third paragraph where I told you all the things that they have gotten me through.  Look at the fucking name I use to blog with.  There are certain things that are major pieces not only of my life but in WHO I UNDERSTAND MYSELF TO BE and HOW I come to understand myself.  If that ceases to be, if I move away from them, if another band takes their place...does that mean I am becoming someone new?  Or has that already happened and I am just playing catch-up here with myself?  What will it mean if I no longer have them to rely on?

I know this is going to seem patently ridiculous to some people, but I hope there are others who have had something so important for so long that can relate to what I'm trying to think through here.  I'm not expecting to get any answers out of writing or posting this, but it is a marker of...something...that I think is going to be important for my own personal journey over the next...however long.