The 20th anniversary of Dookie: why the album still means something today

<i>Dookie</i> -- Art by Richie Bucher, 1994
Dookie -- Art by Richie Bucher, 1994
"I grew up with Green Day" ... it stands as the only phrase that ties many 30-somethings to the band today. Most in this crowd have moved on, save a handful of Green Day faithfuls that still follow. Most in this same crowd, when speaking of "new Green Day," rant about how the band has "changed." In the same breath, they go on to explain why American Idiot and its unfortunately more widely-rejected successor, 2009's 21st Century Breakdown, were the albums that reduced them to only former Green Day fans.

For fans that have moved on, this ever-romanticized "old Green Day" is Dookie. It's the album that was able to perfectly identify with the endless frustrations that so many associate with their teenage years. Dookie is the album that catapulted punk rock into the hallways of high schools across the world. Dookie is the album that brought feelings of loneliness, insignificance, boredom, and heartache out of the depths of the teenage mind and onto the car radio. Though angst is the dominant theme, the album is anything but one-dimensional. Dookie is not centered only on the angst itself, but more so on the circumstances, sentiments, and experiences that can create a psychological storm fierce enough to push one over the edge.

Twenty years ago today (February 1, 1994), the release of Dookie changed the course of pop music in the '90s. It marked the start of Green Day's major label career, and propelled the band into stardom. Singles like "Longview," "Basket Case," and "When I Come Around" dominated the airwaves. Green Day's distinct strain of melodic punk-rock that was first brought to the forefront by Dookie has influenced countless bands, and opened the door to the mainstream for many groups of similar genres. Dookie has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, making it the band's most successful release to date.

Dookie holds so much meaning for so many because of the simple fact that it is authentic. The emotions that it represents weren't forced, and these emotions weren't purposely hidden behind a facade of phony confidence. Dookie's interesting and relatable messages were able to make listeners feel comfortable in their own skin, and comfortable facing their vices. Such was possible because, after all, its three-minute vocalizations of reality had been penned by a group of boys who still weren't sure how they felt about becoming men.