B is for…

Basket Case by Green Day

First time I heard it: I suppose I must have heard it on the radio. It’s just one of those songs that you either loved or hated in 1995 and now almost twenty years later I hear those first few bars and the next thing I know I’m singing. I bought the CD single and then Dookie. I lived in Kent at the time in this little terrace house next to the station. I was in my first job and owned my second stereo (with a CD player as well as a turntable) and got the most out of my 70 watt speakers (they may have been more, but I know nothing about these things). I think I can quite possibly say I have never been so bored in my life. Music was my way out. Little did I realise that when I was waking up in the morning and playing Basket Case at top volume and blasting it out at the top of my lungs that I was also waking my neighbours up. I only became aware of this fact when they asked me to record Masterplan as they liked it. They were very kind about the loud music, saying that as they were retired it was good to be woken up at 8 am (up and out the house in twenty minutes me), otherwise they were getting to the stage where they could easily sleep in all day. I on the other hand was mortified when I realised that Masterplan was probably among one of the few ‘quiet’ tracks that I played at the time.

First time I heard it live: Around this time my friend’s sister-in-law had this gig going with the Workers Beer Company. She got a team of twenty people together and we worked shifts at various music festivals. We did the Fleadgh and some other stuff at Finsbury Park, but the icing on the cake was the 1995 Reading Festival. I borrowed a tent off my brother’s friend, I cut another ten centimetres off my cut off jeans and packed my Wonder Stuff and Carter USM t-shirt. 

I saw Green Day that weekend, on the Friday. They were the band where people start to find their space for the headline act, so that when the twenty or so fans piss off, the real fans can surge forward. I vaguely remember that Green Day played most of Dookie and there was some guy in a green hoodie next to me who went mental the whole way through. Billie Joe Armstrong and the gang were good. They gave it their all and the gig was fun. Obviously during Basket Case we were all pretty frivolous. But when I think back to that Reading weekend, what I remember most of all was working the bar.

You see the thing with working the bar is that you’re there to work the  bar. You work the shifts you’re given and we were given the Saturday night shift. Have a look at the line up for that year and you will realise what a hellish punishment that was. The up point was that we go the backstage bar which served more than crap  Heineken and crap Guinness. The down point was being back stage we couldn’t really hear the music. So we compensated. The idea was that you had this never-ending glass of orange juice. One for the customer, one for me. I came off that shift at 1am completely and totally hammered. Followed by a 12 o’clock shift the next day, which evidently we were in no real shape to do. At any one time there was probably only about three out of the twenty of us able to serve people and we were on strict orders not to drink. Well, not alcohol, we’d swallowed the profits the night before, so it was soft drinks only. So every now and again I’d hit the fridge and go through the soft drinks. I don’t like coke, there was no Irn-Bru (my preferred hangover cure), but there was this new drink called Red bull. An energy drink someone said. Well, boy after the night before I needed energy. So I had a can or two or seven. Which is what time I went to bed the next morning. Woo heee.

So 10am last year (some time in April I think), the Frog and I were sitting in front of our respective computers waiting for the Rock en Seine line up to be announced. There was some kind of hitch so that the line up came up late and for a few minutes I was all excited and thought the Foo Fighters were coming again, but then no, Placebo, The Black Keys and Green Day. I haven’t bought a Green Day album since 1995. I’ve seen their popularity rise and wane and new kids getting into them, but there’s always Basket Case. One of my third graders whose guitar was bigger than him played it on Battle of the Bands day in Mexico and I moshed with my 5th Graders in Osmington Bay on the last night PGL disco. So I was kind of interested in seeing Green Day again.

And woo, it was very different. For a start my docs are now cherry red and there’s no way on earth I’d wear a pair of cut off jeans. The audience is still young. The guys at the front anyway. We were way,way at the back, with the rest of our demographic. And Green Day played a show. I think that was the biggest difference. They played well over two hours (well they’ve been going for some time now) and there were big lights and the band could play their instruments better and well… the egos have just got enormous over the years. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it. No, I still love the music, it’s just different, that’s all. A bit like me I suppose.

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One response to “B is for…

  1. Pingback: C is for… | A wanderer in red shoes·

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