The first time I heard Green Day was on the radio, driving up to NY State to see a girl. It was a stopped-in-my-tracks moment. I remember Longview coming on, turning it up, and being really grabbed by the song.
So I've liked Green Day since then. I went out and got Dookie and my cousin passed me a copy of Kerplunk! and I taped them back-to-back on a cassette. I listened to that enough that when I hear the songs I can picture myself where I was living at the time - Maryland/DC - and driving around.
I didn't always follow them closely - I skipped most of their albums between Dookie and American Idiot - but kept listening to what I had and always cranking them up when their songs came on. Well, all except the (to me) inexplicably popular "When I Come Around." Yeah, it's good, but it never really connected with me.
I did pick up International Superhits, though, in between. As a Green Day mix goes, it is awesome. I keep that in mp3 form in my car and periodically just let it roll from "Maria" all the way to "Macy's Day Parade."
I will say that there is nothing from Foxboro Hot Tubs on here, but that seems fair. I like FHT, but Green Day playing as FHT feels different enough that I didn't want to mix them here.
So without much further ado, here are my 11 Green Day songs.
The song that got me in the first place. I love the speed changes.
2) Basket Case.
If I had to play one song for someone to explain Green Day to them, it would be this. Minority would be a strong second, but this one is . . . the band in a nutshell in the same way Whole Lotta Love will tell you everything you need to know about Zep.
I stayed up late to see them on Letterman and give the performance linked here. No, I don't know what's with the video cut away in it, and I can't find my VHS tape of the original to check it. I love the raw but sharp sound they get here, complete with some distortion but just enough of it to add to the performance.
Amazing drums at the start - brump, brump, brump. It's even better on the album, when it feeds into Having a Blast/Chump/Longview in what feels like one long song.
Memorial/Story song. I like story songs. I also like clear emotional connections between the band and the content. This song really conveys loss without getting maudlin.
Yeah. Free for all, fuck 'em all. One of the smartest and most eloquently smart songs I know.
6) 2000 Light Years
The standout track for me on Kerplunk!, although their cover of The Who's My Generation is excellent and so is Who Wrote Holden Caufield?
7) American Idiot.
I'll admit I'd kind of lost track of newer Green Day stuff a little before this came out. Then I heard this track on WFMU and that prompted me to get the album immediately.
8) 21st Century Breakdown.
On the CD of the same name, this is a pretty good song. Live, such as on Awesome as F**k, it's really outstanding. They take it and run with it in a way that retroactively improves the album track. Much like the Rancid song "Radio, Radio" (which Billy Joe co-wrote, actually), live, it has some amazing kick to it.
9) Walking Contradiction.
Lyrically entertaining and really good musically. I'm always in the mood for this song if I'm in the mood for Green Day. "A smart ass but I'm playing dumb." That's pretty much this band, right there.
Another Dookie track I just couldn't stop listening to - and that's on a CD that really has no bad or skippable tracks, even the one I mentioned about not actually liking very much.
11) Static Age
I can't tell you what it exactly about this song for me, but I really enjoy it. It's on a CD that works better as a whole than in parts, but this is the second of two parts I liked enough from that CD to put on this list. Take that for whatever it could mean.
Really good band. So much I could have listed, but those really feel like a solid list of songs that have some meaning to me. Did I miss any of your favorites? If so, let me know in the comments.