Unless Billie Joe Armstrong goes the way of Ben Weasel and curdles into a caricature of reactionary conservatism, my family will always be a Green Day family. Along with Red Vines and Wayne's World, it composes our holy trinity, and it is all beauty and suffering.
My dad recently told me he doesn't want a funeral. "Just get some people together and listen to a few Green Day songs in my honor," he said. My dad took me to my first Green Day show when I was 15 and he was 36. That was one of the happiest days of my life. When I think about my dad, I think about that day—the sun on our necks, Green Day onstage, joy surrounding me. When my brother and I saw the band on their American Idiot tour in 2004, we felt so betrayed by the pyrotechnical hugeness of latter-day Green Day that we almost cried.
I am now 37 and have a 3-year-old daughter. She is one of the few things in this world I love more than Green Day. When she was an infant, I sang her to sleep every night. Since "Basket Case" was one of the only songs I could sing from memory, I would sing it to my daughter over and over and over until she finally fell asleep. I still sing it to her sometimes. I try, at least. By the time I make it to the second line of the first verse, her hand shoots to my mouth to keep me from embarrassing us both.
But like me and my dad, and like me and my brother, my daughter and I will always have Green Day. She will hear "Basket Case" in a bar one day and a sliver of her will remember a hovering, shadowy shape sending her to sleep. And she will hear Kerplunk in some buddy's basement and remember, in some vague way, the summer we moved into a new house and drove around with the windows down, Green Day cranking.
And she will hear "Going to Pasalacqua" on some spaceship taking her to a better planet, and she will remember me remembering my brother remembering my dad, and we will be bound up in something beautiful and true. For a fleeting instant, she will be me and I will be her, and the song will go on even when I cannot.
SEE IT: Green Day plays the Moda Center, 1 N Center Ct. St., with Catfish and the Bottlemen, on Wednesday, August 2. 7 pm. $35-$280. All ages.