The Truth About Music

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Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ turns 20 years old today

1994

If you’re at least 25 years old, brace yourself. Today, Green Day’s album Dookie turns 20! It’s been 20 years since the world was introduced to three hard nosed punks from Oakland, California and their now legendary sound. While they’ve put their couch surfing, weed smoking and hotel destroying ways behind them, they’re still a punk band at heart and this album set the tone for the band that is continuing to define the genre they helped to revive.

The Album.

The legacy of Dookie hasn’t faded much since 1994. It was Rolling Stone’s #1 album of 1994 and topped many “tops of the ’90s” style charts from outlets like Spin Magazine and organizations like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was even named in Robert Dimery’s great book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In February of 1999, Dookie made it’s final move to date on the RIAA Certification Charts. That day, it was certified Diamond or 10x Platinum as it sold its 10,000,000th copy in the United States.

January 26th, 1995

In order to properly set the mood for this album, it’s important to understand the year that was 1994 (and 1993 and 1995 for that matter). Green Day emerged during a time when punk rock was the last thing on peoples minds. Top 40 radio was playing an interesting mix of Whitney Houston, Kenny G and Dr. Dre. Songs like Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and ”Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team topped the charts in ’93. 1994′s top selling album was Grace by Jeff Buckley. Dookie came in at #6 behind the self titled Weezer debut and Definitely Maybe by Oasis among others. Years later, the Green Day epic would sit atop these rivals in sales, but in 1994, it wasn’t quite the album it is today. Breaking through to audiences that are used to the mellow, soft rock which seemed to dominate the mid-’90s was a huge challenge and is likely the cause for Dookie’s slower arrival.

When Dookie was released, the reviews were stellar. New York Times pop critic Jon Pareles described the album saying “punk turns into pop in fast, funny, catchy, high-powered songs about whining and channel-surfing; apathy has rarely sounded so passionate.” Rolling Stone didn’t review the album, later featuring the band on front covers, but not even giving Dookie a look in ’94. Years later, Rolling Stone would name the album #193 on the 500 Greatest Albums of all time calling it “the album that jump-started the Nineties punk-pop revival.” What’s really interesting is that Rolling Stone didn’t feature Green Day (post-Dookie) until the May 19th, 1994 issue. Dookie had been out for 3 months at that point.

December 28th, 1995

It would take years for Green Day to change the way pop music sounds on the radio. Green Day’s brash sound slowly seeped into American culture while artists like Alanis Morissette (Jagged Little Pill) and Radiohead (The Bends) returned in 1995 to bring sanity back to the listening public. Looking back it’s easy to see the writing on the wall. America wasn’t ready for 3 punk kids who embraced smoking pot and getting hammered. Little did they realize how quickly things would change; on the words of a few catchy pop songs.

The Singles.

With great albums comes great singles and Dookie is no exception. “Basket Case,” “Longview” and “When I Come Around” all reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and “Welcome To Paradise” and “She” were in the Top 10. The songs rocketed Green Day into the limelight and they were touring arena’s before the years end. The 4′s have been big for Green Day. After releasing Dookie in 1994, they released American Idiot, their second best selling album of all time in 2004. The two albums, released 10 years apart, have sold over 17 million copies in the United States and 30 million copies worldwide.

February 24th, 2005

By the end of 1994, the album was certified 3x Platinum (still only the 6th best selling album of the year…albums sold much better back then) and a year later, in May of 1995, it would go to 8x Platinum. From that point through 1999, the album would slowly creep to 10x Platinum, where it currently resides. In 2009, “Basket Case” was named the 33rd Best Rock Song of All Time by VH1 and was previously named the Greatest Punk Song of All Time by BBC Radio 1.

The Legacy.

Dookie did more than just launch Green Day. Four years before he was the producer for the Goo Goo Dolls multi-platinum album Dizzy Up The Girl, Rob Cavallo worked with Green Day for the first time on Dookie. He produced every Green Day album after 1994, winning 3 Grammy Awards along the way. Despite his success with Green Day, he also produced albums for Paramore, Foxy Shazam and My Chemical Romance. He continues to be an elite producer, working with younger, up and coming artists like Gary Clark Jr. and Tegan and Sara.

March 14th, 2013

2014 is a lot different for Green Day. With no albums in the pipeline (that we know of), hearing Green Day this year might mean seeing their touring American Idiot Musical or listening to Foreverly, the folk album that Billie Joe Armstrong released in 2013 with Norah Jones. Despite the side project, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for Green Day. They’ve been playing together since 1990 (that’s 24 years for those 30-year-olds keeping score at home) and their friendship seems stronger than ever, even after a scary 2013 for Armstrong in which he recovered from a substance abuse problem.

The Truth About Music launched in 2008 and since then, Dookie has been mentioned in 11 different articles (we’ve published just north of 1,700 overall, in case you’re curious). It is credited with saving punk, launching Green Day and killing grunge, but will always be remembered as a great album. It might not be the last punk album, but it might be the best we’ve ever seen.

Green Day live in concert in April of 2013

 

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