Green Day’s Nimrod: A Millennial’s Best Friend

How Green Day’s album “Nimrod” is actually a perfect companion to the current Millennial in flux.

from Wikipedia:

Nimrod is the fifth studio album by the American punk rock band Green Day, released on October 14, 1997 through Reprise Records. The group began work on the album in the wake of their cancellation of a European tour after the release of Insomniac (1995). Recorded at Conway Studios in Los Angeles, the album was written with the intent of creating solid songs as opposed to a cohesive album. As a result, Nimrod is noted for its musical diversity and experimentation, and contains elements of folksurf rock, and ska. The lyrical themes discussed on the record include maturity, personal reflection, and fatherhood.

Yes, despite being released when a good portion of the Millennial generation weren’t even born (I received the cassette tape as a 14th birthday present), Green Day’s successful follow-up album to their first smash “Dookie” proves to be an eerie mirror and oddly fitting companion to the trials and tribulations currently being felt by the majority of today’s twentysomethings. The most perfect irony comes from the fact that this album was written, performed, and originally intended for Generation X, the original “slacker generation” whose nihilistic heyday in the days of Nirvana, Grunge, Seattle, and mainstream acceptance of limited punk music fits the current frustrated situation much better than the rosy, Clinton-era days of good employment, better prospects, and brighter futures. It is more than a little disconcerting to see the original grunge rats of the previous generation shed their defining characteristics  as adulthood hit them full in the face, instead opting for the road to narcissism through witless, overpriced home purchases, mindless television trends, and a proliferation of a lifestyle that their sixteen year old selves would no doubt have considered shockingly banal.

The album starts with, almost prophetically, a tune titled “Nice Guys Finish Last”

A short sampling of the lyrics:

Living on command.
You’re shaking lots of hands.
You’re kissing up and bleeding all your trust
Taking what you need.
Bite the hand that feeds.
You lose your memory and you got no shame.

Pressure cooker, pick my brain and tell me I’m insane
I’m so fucking happy I could cry.

Tell me this doesn’t apply to Millennials having to compromise nearly every one of the values they had been taught to work for a company they hate, just to have enough money to pay off their student loans and maybe eat today. The second section is particularly telling, when you look at a world where the environment is toast, the government is bought, and your generation is poised to become the first in American history to earn less money than their parents. But through it all, you’re told not to be a “downer,” so you smile. You smile so much because you’re afraid that if you don’t, you’ll cry.

The next track is called “Hitching a Ride”

From the very beginning, there is a small violin intro reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof, perhaps signifying the transient nature of the Millennial. A job here, a job there; interns, volunteers, whatever you need me to be. Later they talk about a “drought at the fountain of youth,” and if there’s a better metaphor for the trouble Millennials are facing in these “Troubled Times,” I’d like to hear it.

The Grouch:

I shouldn’t have to say a word about this one. It should echo the thoughts and feelings of nearly every Millennial with a shred of awareness or dignity left.

Redundant:

The repetition of the minimum wage drudgery is present in this song, a melancholic ode to wasted opportunities and lives set adrift in the wake of a destructive recession.

I cannot speak, lost my voice
Speechless and redundant
‘Cause “I love you” is not enough, I’m lost for words

We have no voice to plead our case, a redundant case for the same thing: income equality, decent jobs, and a progressive future. Even the phrase “I love you” isn’t enough, because most Millennials are caught in the difficult spot between choosing to have a child or choosing to pay rent.

Scattered:

I’ve got some scattered pictures lying on my bedroom floor.
Reminds me of the times we shared.
Makes me wish that you were here.
Now it seems I’ve forgotten my purpose in this life.

Open the past and present.
Now and we are there.
Story to tell and I am listening.
Open the past and present.
And the future too. 
It’s all I’ve got and I’m giving it up to you.

Looking back on the promises that were made to us. We gave ourselves to the previous generations, we told them that we were ready to listen to the story they had to tell. We gave up our futures, mortgaging them in overpriced college tuition, and now all we have left are pictures on our bedroom floor… the bedroom floor, of course, in out parents’ house, where we moved back to.

All The Time:

These are the bad days for Millennials: thoughts of destructive behavior, all this talk of wasting time and resolutions that never came to pass, broken promises as we watch the clock tick and wonder where all the time went. Times up, the song says, when you work like a dog. Salud.

Worry Rock:

Another sentimental argument and bitter love.
Fucked without a kiss again and dragged it through the mud.
Yelling at brick walls and punching windows made of stone.
The worry rock has turned to dust and fallen on our pride. 
A knocked down dragged out fight.
Fat lips and open wounds.
Another wasted night and no one will take the fall. 
Where do we go from here?
And what did you do with the directions? 
Promise me no dead end streets
And I’ll guarantee we’ll have the road.

A depressed take on the present, with still one sliver of hope for the future. Fucked over by those in power without so much as a kiss, feeling like we’re raking our fists against a brick wall of uncertainty, beaten to hell by what the last five years has given us. It’s no wonder the worry rock is dust, we’ve tried our best to rub it when things get tough, but it was just too much. Please, Millennials beg, just no more dead end streets: no more ridiculous legislation, no more hyper-wealthy celebrations, no more doors slammed in our faces, and we guarantee we’ll have the road to a brighter future. That ending phrase seems to musically echo the Beatles’ “Nowhere Man,” which creates yet another layer to the loneliness and depression felt by the generation.

Platypus (I Hate You):

The lyrics can be found here.
I’m sure we’ve all had days like this. Maybe a clueless, Baby Boomer boss who doesn’t understand why WE can’t afford a new car. Maybe a cancer survivor campaigning against decent healthcare. Who knows.

Uptight:

I woke up on the wrong side of the floor.
Made, made my way through the front door.
Broke my engagement with myself.
Perfect picture of bad health, another notch scratched on my belt.

The future just ain’t what it used to be.
I got a new start on a dead end road.
Peaked, peaked out on reaching new lows.
Owe, I paid off all my debts to myself.
Perfect picture of bad health, another notch scratched on my belt.

The future’s in my living room.
Uptight, I’m a nag with a gun.
All night, suicide’s last call.
I’ve been uptight all night.
I’m a son of a gun.
Uptight I’m a nag with a gun.

The horrible irony is that Gen X wrote this and, looking back, their lives couldn’t have possibly looked any rosier.
Sure is easy to get a gun these days, though.

Last Ride In:

Finally, a cool down. A little surf rock relaxation. Perhaps the Millennials’ support for the legalization of Marijuana (and the success of such efforts in Colorado and Washington) could explain this slightly trippy, mellow end to the first side of the album.

 

Well, that’s it for side one. I’ll do side two later this week. Hope you got a kick out of it, or something.

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