Because Green Day made their name playing they type of music in the 90’s that took all it’s cues from one hit wonders from 20 years previous, they’ve rarely been taken seriously as the mega-band they are. Green Day perform an important service to the rock world as a gateway band still investing in their fans and their back catalogue. Just because they got famous with an album named after a euphemism for a turd doesn’t mean they’re not worthy Hall Of Famers.
Many see the Green Day 2012 trilogy of albums Uno! Dos! Tre! as a folly. Something of a nadir where the overblown rock opera of Phase 2 Green Day: American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown finally came unglued from the Pop Punk template of Phase 1 Green Day: Kerplunk, Dookie, Nimrod. Yes yes, I do know there was a prefame Green Day too. Let’s call that era Phase 0.
It is unusual for punk bands to attempt something as ambitious as a triple album project. After two albums of would be rock operas (one era defining and one giving way to an actual rock opera) a triple album sort of makes sense. The Clash did it with Sandinista! Why can’t Green Day follow in their steps?
Well… Even us die hard fans have to admit to mixed results therein. There is some filler for sure. There are some honourable failures and unsurprisingly there are some absolute gems. Hidden among the woods are songs like 99 Revolutions, Nuclear Family and Stray Heart.
What Uno! Dos! and Tre! do is give the band an alternative back catalogue in the space of a year. They could tour these albums and barely touch the old material if they didn’t feel like it. At least that may have been the plan before Billie Joe ran into some issues with his demons and the release schedule and touring plans all went out the window.
These three records occupy a weird space now. The Meltdown Period between Rock Opera Phase 2 and Phase 3 Green Day: Post Rehab.
There’s the key word for this track: Rehab.
That’s why Amy stands out so much in hindsight. A solo song written by Billie Joe when he was in the grip of his demons and recognising a kindred spirit fighting and ultimately losing the same battles as him.
A love song written for a dead rock star is a risky move. But Billie recognises what Amy Winehouse went through because at that moment in time he’s right there in the same space.
‘Is your heart singing out of tune are your eyes just singing the blues, dirty records from another time and some blood stains on your shoes’
Sounds kind of familiar to a middle aged punk megastar locked in a battle with the bottle.
‘Amy don’t you go, I want you around, singing woah oh oh, please don’t go, do you want to be a friend of mine?’
Billie makes it plain he doesn’t know Amy. But it’s the Queen of Camden he’s singing about for sure. The lucky charm tattoo, the voice, the hair and the battle with the drink all get checked in the mournful vocal.
Billie keeps it simple. Just him and his guitar asking Amy for a last dance. Pleading her not to go, even though she’s already left us.