The song that inspired Billie Joe Armstrong to become a musician

Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman for Green Day, is without a doubt one of his generation’s most accomplished songwriters. Forget about the derogatory pop-punk label for a second; the Californian has accomplished a lot in his time. With a string of hits and an acclaimed rock opera, he has kept punk in the public’s consciousness.

Green Day are likely to be labelled by punk purists as sell-outs, but what successful band isn’t? It’s insane to expect them to keep releasing the same lo-fi punk album à la Kerplunk, destined to fail both creatively and commercially. Unlike many of their peers from the lauded Bay Area scene, the trio set their sights on longevity by foregoing their original form. They pushed themselves into new creative world and, accordingly, reached fresh heights.

They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a punk trio that began as just another scrappy rabble in 1987 has achieved such heights and maintained a prominent cultural status. Their recent performance on the New York tube demonstrated not only how relevant they remain with their new album Saviours. It also showcased how their music has transcended boundaries, appealing to people from all walks of life. That’s a rare accomplishment.

Frontman and guitarist Armstrong’s songwriting ability is the primary factor attributing to Green Day’s success. His distinct approach combines buzzsaw guitar with hooky, pop-leaning vocal melodies and anthemic choruses. This appeal arises from its ability to bridge the elements of punk that he values. Armstrong’s musical formula remains effective regardless of the lyrical themes. From the early classic ‘Basket Case’ to the more recent single ‘The American Dream is Killing Me’.

Billie Joe Armstrong lists a number of songwriters as his heroes. According to him, one of the best acts of the 1980s alternative rock scene, Bob Mould and his band Hüsker Dü, gave him the inspiration to become a musician. Their song ‘Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely’ from 1986’s Candy Apple Grey proved to be the ultimate motivator.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2016, Armstrong shared, “I’ve been playing music ever since I can remember. When I first started getting into alternative music, I picked up 1986’s Candy Apple Grey by Hüsker Dü .  This was because I was watching the video for “Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely” on 120 Minutes on MTV.” That song immediately blew me away. I began a long love affair with Hüsker Dü. I wanted to be like Hüsker Dü when I first started Green Day.”

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