Dear Billie Joe,
First of all, congratulations to you and Mike and Tre on the sixth anniversary of the release of American Idiot -- for my tastes the seminal rock album of the past decade. Of course, congratulations are also in order for all the kudos you received surrounding your Broadway debut as "St. Jimmy" in the musical version of American Idiot. Forgive me, though, for having mixed feelings about the whole Broadway musical thing. I wish I didn't have those mixed feelings but as a punk rock lover and longtime Green Day fan and purist, I feel conflicted.
Back in 2004, I plugged American Idiot into my CD player, and it became, literally, number one in my rotation, pretty much until the release of Bullet In A Bible a year later.
I spent time in the '04 election campaigning for John Kerry and even worked Election Day in Ohio in the pouring rain for Election Protection. When George W. Bush came out the winner the next day, the only thing that could lift me out of my funk was American Idiot. Not just another great collection of Green Day songs, but a brilliant concept album, in the tradition of The Who's Tommy and Quadrophenia.
For every young American who found themselves growing increasingly pissed off about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and positively queasy at the thought of another four years of "W" in the Oval Office, American Idiot became our anthem.
I get Michael Mayer's temptation to turn American Idiot into a musical. I get it. My wife even took me up to Berkeley to see it in previews before you moved it to the Great White Way. I wanted to love it, and at first I thought I did. But thinking back on it, watching those young, scrubbed, baby-faced kids singing those new harmony-friendly arrangements and doing all that cool choreography just made me want to see the band again.
21st Century Breakdown proved to be as powerful a follow-up to Idiot as any of us could have hoped for. I've seen live shows from the last tour so many times my wife worries I'm having some kind of midlife crisis, one where instead of getting a motorcycle or a much younger girlfriend, I spend all kinds of money on eBay buying memorabilia, and worse, leave my family for extended periods of time just so I can follow the band.
That you proved to be a great "St. Jimmy" is no surprise. Anybody who's seen you onstage knows what kind of chops and charisma you have as a performer. You are punk rock's Puck.
In the alternate universe my thoughts sometimes drift into, you guys never did a Broadway Musical version of American Idiot, and you never did the recently announced movie version either. Instead you, Mike and Tre did your own rock-n-roll road movie called Hey O! 0- your version of A Hard Day's Night and The Blues Brothers. The movie opens with you guys feeling burned out after the last stadium show of a big tour, but instead of heading for home, the three of you jump into a van driven by Drunk Bunny and embark on a cross-country punk rock odyssey. Hijinks and fistfights ensue as you find yourselves playing in all the punk dives you played in back in the early 90s. You run into the ghosts of Joey Ramone and John Lennon, and finish up back in Oakland where you play a big benefit concert for 924 Gilman Street where you're all reunited with your families.
In that same alternate universe, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown still exist, but nobody can tell me that you guys aren't still a punk band and prove it by pointing to American Idiot: The Original Broadway Cast Album or to a YouTube parody called "Green Day On Ice."
I can't wait to see what you guys come up with next. God love President Barack Obama, but we're still at war, the economy remains in the shitter, and there are more idiots in America than ever. In the meantime, I hope and pray I won't be hearing about the very special Green Day episode of Glee anytime soon.