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Monday, June 01, 2009

The Greatest Album Ever? Maybe...

Last time in this column I proclaimed Green Day the Greatest American Band Ever. I was right of course, but even I didn't know how right I was. Since that time I have purchased and listened to the entire new album, 21st Century Breakdown.

This may be The Greatest Album Ever. Maybe. The power, the sadness, the honesty, and the anger expressed in the songs on this album has greatly affected me in a way that only a few albums have done over many years. It's that good.

Chills down my spine. Hair standing on my arms. And yes, tears. And that's just the first track. Game over.

This is not an album to skip through to your favorite track, you'll miss so much of the heart and soul of this CD. Yes, there are a few standout singles that will blow you away, but to ignore the other 15 tracks is to do a great disservice to Green Day, and if you truly love and admire what they've done in the past, you will honor them by BUYING THE WHOLE ALBUM AND LISTENING ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Honor the artist.

It's OK if you don't fully get it the first time through. I didn't, but the second time through I was transformed.

Green Day has produced a masterpiece. Plain and simple. Every track works, every track fits and every track MEANS SOMETHING. There is no filler. Don't you dare skip ahead.

In this day and age of iTunes and pure singles, few bands even bother thinking about the album format, as a whole piece of art whose sum is far greater than the individual tracks. Most bands simply don't have the talent to do that. That's OK, we love singles, but to be able to produce an album like this, to be willing to create something of this magnitude is to be in a class of artist so beyond the ordinary. With this level of integrity and craftsmanship, Billy Joe and company should be running the U.S. auto industry. We'd all be driving Chevy's, I assure you.

Green Day is an established band. They don't need to try to make a whole album. Just a few singles would be good enough. But they produced this.

21st Century Breakdown reminds us of why we listen to music. Why great music, inspiring music, thrilling music matters to our lives. It makes us feel so wonderfully human.

It is a tragedy that most of this album will never be heard on the radio. And the fact that it can't legally be played in it's entirety is unfortunate.

But you can buy it. And you can listen to it all the way through. Do not buy the singles from iTunes. Spend a few more dollars and get the whole album. Better yet, get the physical recording complete with the artwork from

There isn't much more I can say. This CD, created by America's Greatest Band Ever, born from the pain and anger of witnessing a great nation squander it's wealth,it's reputation and it's future in just a few years, makes that decline almost worth it.

At least we'll have this CD to listen to when the lights go out.


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