Thursday, January 6, 2011

Green Day: From the 90s to Broadway to David Bowie?

So growing up as a teenager in the 90s, I was big fan of Green Day.  I think I probably burned out my first CD player on Dookie.  It's fascinating to see Green Day making it big with teenagers today after 2009's 21st Century Breakdown.  I walked into a classroom where I teach, and sure enough a pair of high school kids were playing a version of 21 Guns on a piano and violin.  It's fascinating to see a band after almost 20 years still speaking to the same age group.


That said, I have to admit, 21 Guns did not do it for me.  I thought the radio version by the band, aside from the opening, sounded like a stale and overly sterile drinking song, but the tune was catchy and I felt like it could've done so much more had it been more raw.  Now I'm familiar with the Broadway cast version since my students will be performing it this spring, and I was stunned by the power it had.  Here's a look at what I saw when listening to the radio version, and a look at what I saw when listening to the Broadway cast.  For being the exact same melody, the differences are pretty startling:

Band's radio version:

LIMITED EDITION 8 x 8 INCH FAUX-POLAROID HAHNEMUHLE PHOTOGRAPH (landscape 026)  Vintage Dress - 60s Olive Green Mod Dress and Jacket
Limited Edition 8x8 Faux-Polaroid Hahnemuhle Photography by WHPhotography $28
Vintage olive green mod dress and jacket from The Ruby Kitten $76

Broadway cast's version:

X Marks The Spot Red - 10x10 Archival Quality Print (alternative sizes on request)  Sooner Or Later - Tartan Plaid Asymmetrical Blazer
  X Marks the Spot Red 10x10 print by Phil Cook $35
Tartan plaid asymmetrical blazer by Mad Cap Clothing $85

(These items, I was shocked to see, have a very similar color and feel to the 2009 album cover, which I had not seen before I picked them!)

I was also stunned to see on the sheet music that songwriting credit goes to David Bowie, in addition to Green Day. Now it goes without saying that I am a huge Bowie fan, and this just didn't seem right to me, but when I listened to the Broadway recording again, I could hear his influence a bit more.  There's a hint of atmospheric spaciousness, particularly in the opening and the backup vocals, and the melody is quite catchy (almost painfully so).  In fact, the most obvious similarity is the actual chorus, which almost exactly quotes the chorus from Bowie's All the Young Dudes.  Have a listen:

David Bowie's All the Young Dudes

NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray called Bowie's hit "one of that rare breed: rock songs which hymn the solidarity of the disaffected without distress or sentimentality" which is not all that different from the disaffected youth portrayed in the hit Broadway show.


As much as I would've love to do Bowie for this spot, I thought the theatrical interpretation of punk and/or grunge was interesting.  A colorful mixture of prints and textures, with lots of stripe, plaid, and leather combinations.  Here are a few items pulled for this look:

1980s black Leather HIGH WAIST trousers Vintage pants (XS)  vintage OVERSIZED Plaid Flannel Shirt
14 Hole OX BLOOD Doc Martens Combat Boots 7  LINEN Black and Crimson  Fingerless Gloves
1980s Black leather high waist trousers from tractordog $99
Vintage oversized plaid flannel shirt from Snap Vintage $18
Vintage ox blood Doc Martens from Tarantula Sisters $95
Black and crimson fingerless gloves by awkward $42

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