Sunday, 21 August 2016
No Apologies for the Infinite Radness 1.1.15 - "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" (Green Day)
Man, this was just everywhere in the late '90s. A recurring medical condition that would flare up at every other open mic set across the student bars of Durham, over a year after Nimrod was released. Every third soulless singer-songwriter would play it with the exact same arrangement, i.e. identical to the original but with all the nice picking at the start cast aside because it was too tricky. Cowards and hacks, that's what we were back then. How completely we failed to understand anything we were presented with.
The thing is, though, once you cut away the picking that brackets the song, and remove the swooping strings (however understandable doing that is when you're at uni and you've got no money and no mates), what you're left with is a fairly simple strum-along. Which is still charming, don't get me wrong. A lot of that charm comes from its purposeful vagueness, though. This is a song for pretty much everyone who's ever dumped somebody and told themselves what follows will be some kind of bittersweet knowledge you did what was best for both of you that fades into precious memories of when things were good.
And that can happen, obviously. In practice, though, I'm not sure we should be all that keen on the odds. I don't think it's any coincidence that this was the imposed soundtrack of our first year at university. The place was stuffed to bursting with people working out how to dump the other halves they were with before they arrived in the land of booze and bonking, and each of them was trying to come up with a more romantic justification for moving on than the place they were moving on to being stuffed with silky totty.
Which gives Green Day the last laugh. They saw those jokers coming a mile away. The song itself might be about wistful, melancholy break-ups where you wish the best for each other and carry on happily but separately, but the actual title - which could have come long after the song was recorded, of course - is "Good Riddance". That feeling of positivity rarely lasts. For most of the people I had to sit through singing this song whilst missing the point on every level possible, I imagine it would survive until, at longest, their next trip home for the holidays, when they actually had to interact with their former loves. That's when you're force-fed your guilt and shit it out as anger. That's when "it was worth all the while" tends to turn into "All that while was worthless".
I don't remember seeing any of those smug wannabe-troubadours polluting bars with their sweet laments to faded love once I got into my second year and changed my social habits.