Tim Tan Huynh

Green Day – “When I Come Around”

  • 5 Jun 2015
  • Two score and however many days ago, I listened to and then wrote about a song that sort of changed my life.

I did a seventh-grade project about Green Day, and as part of the project, I had to interpret and re-write the lyrics for one of their songs. Obviously, I chose “When I Come Around.” I probably considered “Basket Case” at some point, but its lyrical content would’ve been inappropriate for an elementary-school assignment. Both songs hold up after all these years, but I prefer the former even though the latter is more popular.

The Dookie album was released at the beginning of February 1994, and “When I Come Around” peaked atop the Billboard Alternative chart about a year later. I remember overhearing a hockey teammate talking about the album in a dressing room. I didn’t listen to any of the songs until I saw the music videos a few months later. My middle-school obsession with Green Day, the first band that I really followed, began thusly.

I bought a Dookie poster that summer, but ironically, I never actually bought the album. I borrowed a friend’s CD to do the project and I just watched the band’s music videos and concert footage on TV. My fan-boyishness levelled off over the next couple of years, and other people lost interest as the band transitioned to a more radio-friendly sound, epitomized by the single that became the anthem graduation ceremonies.

My all-time favorite Green Day song is from this period, though.

I have no interest in their post-millennial work, but I appreciate the group’s creative ambition, like their rock-opera album, American Idiot, or Billie Joe Armstrong’s duet album of Everly Brothers songs with Norah Jones. Green Day has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twenty years after I’ve discovered them; I think of them as boyhood friends with whom I have no connection as an adult, but I’m glad when I see them doing well.

I have Rocksmith 2014, but I haven’t bought the three-song Green Day DLC pack even though it has “Basket Case.” I will buy a download for “When I Come Around” if it ever becomes available.