“She” – Green Day
(Words: Billie Joe Armstrong / Music: Green Day, available on Dookie, Reprise 1994)
My first memory of associating music with status occurred in sixth grade. Green Day’s Dookie represented the idea of coolness – the really interesting popular kids were raving about it and I was completely clueless. This was when both Green Day and the modern rock radio format blew up, so it’s fair to say that in 1994, I knew almost nothing about music. I don’t remember a lot of specifics from middle school, but I remember it being extremely awkward (or, at least, that’s how I think back to it). I wonder if coming around to Green Day a few years later somehow subconsciously related back to my yearning to be cool as a twelve year-old. Regardless, Dookie became a personally seminal album, and despite the band’s periodic evolution (and waves of popularity), it’s this brash version of the band I think of when they’re brought up.
Strangely enough, “She” is the song I listen to the most off of this album. Again, there’s probably some kind of subconscious pull towards this song, as “feeling like a social tool without a use” sums up middle school pretty well. These days – a safe distance from those awkward middle school years - I admire how taut the song sounds. If the songs with the fancier drum fills and smarmier lyrics pulled me in when I was a teenager, I’m now looking at songs like “She” and marveling at the efficiency and control in the arrangement. Whether it’s the way the bassline first carries the song and later adds a bit of counter-melody, or the way the guitar sits out the first verse entirely, nothing feels wasted. More importantly, an efficient arrangement makes the embellishments, whether they’re those bassline embellishments, Tre Cool’s lighting quick fills, or the sporadically harmonized vocals in the chorus, feel essential. The band cut everything that wasn’t essential (the third verse is entirely wordless!) and made sure that the song doesn’t overstay its welcome. Instead, it accomplishes the difficult task of saying more with less.
“She” – Green Day