I did something yesterday morning that I more than likely should not have done: I listened to Green Day’s “Macy’s Day Parade,” from their 2000 album, Warning.
Why was it a bad idea to listen? Mostly because it’s one of the most depressing songs ever written, that’s why. Oh sure, the video of the song has the lead singer driving off in his old school Suburban, possibly running away to a new life, but really, you know he’s a loser… but at least he’s good at it.*
It’s a depressing song about being stuck in a rut life, losing your dreams, walking through the ruins of your detritus, looking for hope when all is lost and then taking off with no resolution in sight. Or at least, that’s what the video projects. Which I don’t have to show you because the only one I could find on Youtube didn’t have the sound synced, which is really stupid.
So here’s the band performing the song at Ashbury Park, NJ.
I picked up the keys to my new apartment yesterday. Woot! I packed a bit the night before (an always heinous task), threw back a beer, listened to music and checked the GD fansites to see what was happening at the concert in Detroit. I never realized before how much fun it could be watching a world music tour by Internet. I grew up on the delay of magazines and Saturday/Sunday music programs (Soul Train, American Bandstand, anyone?). With the rise of the dreaded Internet, you can now experience anything through social networking. (I’m sure that the end of the world will be blogged.) Quite fun. Very strange. Early reports from the front were that GD had changed up the setlist. Someone had a sign requesting “Macy’s Day Parade,” and the band obliged, right before “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” So this morning I decided to listen to it on the old iPhone while walking to my new place. I hadn’t heard it in a while.
The last GD album I bought was Warning, and I don’t listen to it much because it is kinda morose. But then again, so were the times leading up to the album’s release in 2000. From 1995 to 2000, I remember clearly being in the doldrums. I ultimately broke after President Clinton lied about his infidelity. Sure, it was none of my business, but really, after years of defending him while staring at the teevee perplexed by the shit thrown at him, here he was, uncontrolled penis in hand. Add to this mix, the Oklahoma city bombing, repeated threats of war from Osama bin Laden, the heightened rise of terrorism, the Moral Majority and the Religious Right, and heads were about to explode all around. Egads. As to the album, you can tell that the band was tense as well. They were in the middle of the shit and seemingly unhappy. Yeah, sure, they were unhappy before, but at least they were smiling while doing it. Sorta. Hell, one of the songs is actually named “Misery” and another, “Minority,” goes for the jugular of certain GOP-tinged religious bigots who were neither “moral’ nor the majority. Come on, it was a bad time all around.
I realized that listening to “Macy’s Day Parade” was not the right thing to do shortly after the song started, but I kept listening because there is a tiny bit of a teeny strain of hope in the song; you just have to step through the turmoil of it to get to that little green spot. It’s painful traveling to that point, if you make it all. It’s what all great songs are made of. Turmoil, angst, sorrow, hope and lust. Now may I hang myself, please?
Lately, I’ve felt on the edge of either a catharsis or a last resort. I haven’t sorted out which one it’s going to be yet. I guess when you reach this point in life (read: age), you look back and reflect on the dreams that held fast in youth. I went after my dream and I held on as long as I could, which is a lot further than afforded most folks. I chased my dream until I chose to stop. It’s my-life regrettable. Now I have a ‘career,’ but with a student loan that is sucking the life out of me. Ultimately, I am not unhappy with the career path I’ve taken, but if I could, I would certainly change the specific field that I’m in. I would work as an archivist in the arts. And as soon as I figure out how to do that and make money to live, I’ll let you know. Yeah, I’m a sell-out to my dreams, but at least I keep hope alive and pay the rent. Mostly.
“Macy’s Day Parade” — how ironic a title for a song where the only parade is despair; the “Minority” video actually got a Main Street parade of rebellious hellions in all of their defiance — knocked me for a loop. I was happily skipping toward my new place when “boom,” right into the wall I went. All the old fears of failure, lost dreams, and thoughts of life just ticking away one mindless day after another went off all at once. It took most of the day to right myself again. In the end, what hit me is summed up in the song’s refrain:
Because I’m thinking about
a brand new hope
the one I’ve never known
cause now I know
it’s all that I wanted
I’ve moved a million times in my life. Literally. I have a nice new home now, and I’ll be there for some long, indefinite period of time. It’s very grown up, but having my own home also feels as if I’m tied down as well, even though it’s but a base of operations. Nonetheless, I’m always thinking of a brand new hope right around the corner, one that I’ve never known and probably will never know before I croak out of this world. And the thought of living so briefly and wanting that elusive and ill-defined it and not obtaining it… whatever it is… is overwhelming. That’s why I shouldn’t have listened to the song yesterday. I was doing a pretty good job of coping with wanting more out of an already full life, but the impact of the late 1990s seeped into my mind by way of a music gateway and it was not pretty. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not time to kick it. I can make anything happen, yes?
Luckily, the angst of “Macy’s Day Parade” and the album in general is broken up by another single, “Waiting.” This refrain offers just a bit more hope and I have listened to it repeatedly today and I feel much better.
Dawning of a new era
Calling…don’t let it catch you falling
Ready or not at all
So close enough to taste it
Almost…I can embrace this
Feeling….on the tip of my tongue
Catharsis or last resort… I’m going to go with catharsis, yeah, that’s the ticket.
*quoth Billie Joe…
December 21st, 2009 at 8:17 pm
[…] CoS Band of Decade and RS Warning 17th Most Underrated Album There’s been a billion lists lately regaling the musical best of the decade, the worst of it, and everything else in between. Rolling Stone recently placed Green Day’s 2000 album Warning on its list of the Top 20 Most Underrated Albums of the Decade, coming in at #17. I first listened to Warning this year and there is a great part of me that wishes I had heard its musical battle cry to arms at the dawning of the new century. The early part of the decade for me was full of anger and bitterness over our political system and I didn’t have any music in my life at the time to sustain me through the turmoil and the political transition of Presidents Clinton to Bush. I’ve written a bit about “Macy’s Day Parade” (a thoroughly depressing song f…. […]
October 3rd, 2010 at 9:49 am
[…] “Macy’s Day Parade”: Can it get anymore real and depressing? […]