In 2004, I was 19, and Green Day dropped one of the greatest albums of all time. It was called 'American Idiot', and it was aptly timed as we had one occupying the most prestigious seat in the country. That man was George W. Bush, and he was running against another buffoon, Senator John Kerry. Falling prey to the lesser-of-two-evils argument at a young age, I became an outspoken Kerry supporter. Makes me cringe now to put it mildly, but I was a young optimist.
My girlfriend and I created custom t-shirts with catchy phrases that trashed Bush and encouraged people to 'Vote Kerry' (on the back of each shirt). I used to wear these shirts all the time, one of which said "The Less Bush the Better" on the front...ya...think about it... so it was a bit 'vulgar' for the conservative tastes of Scottsdale, AZ. I was quite the counter-culturalist back then. I listened to punk rock and decked out my car with lots of antagonizing bumper stickers. Some moderately offensive. One of which my Pops didn't like and made me peel it off. And he's a pretty liberal dude himself.
Anyway, for those of you who don't know, this period of my life became a bit of an epiphany. I became repulsed by competitive sports and intrigued by politics, philosophy, and (anti) religion. I was enrolled at a local junior college and thoroughly enjoyed this new foray into academia after all but neglecting it in High School.
Green Day's album repeated in my 1995 red Volvo 850 for 9 months straight. I just did not grow tired of it. My favorite track, "Holiday" still sends a chill down my spine every time I hear it. I don't think it could've better captured the zeitgeist than it did. Rarely does an entire album encapsulate an era and Billy Joe and his crew did an incredible job.
You may remember a couple of the more popular songs such as the title track, "American Idiot" or "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". But there are other excellent tracks like "Jesus of Suburbia" and "St. Jimmy".
Today as part of my Christmas present, Ash got me front row...LITERALLY front row tickets to this traveling broadway show at The National Theatre. The show is basically the entire album sandwiched into one act with a couple other gems put in. It's about 90% song, but it does chronicle a journey of some young kids as the plot. It was incredible. I'm sure each one of you has one album out there that really 'gets' you. One that you can play over and over and over again. This album is like that for me. It's just has special meaning for what I was going through during that spate of my life and how it totally summed up the angst directed toward the incumbent government and the vacuous public.
I am so grateful that Ash recognized how much this show/album means to me. Afterward at Chef Geoff's down the street, we encountered some of the super youthful cast. Some were straight out of college! We stopped and thanked them for their stellar work and how much I appreciated this particular show. They seemed delighted we stopped and thanked us just as much. They even remembered where we were sitting (not particularly difficult I suppose when you're in the front row!).
At the end of the show the prettiest girl on stage looked me in the eye and tossed me a heart shaped pick with "American Idiot" written on it. When I caught it she said, "Great catch!" And smiled.
And Ash said, "You are a great catch, mister." No she actually said, "Watch it Mister."
I will. I'm no American Idiot.