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Why Green Day's 'NIMROD' Is One Of Their Best Albums

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

By 1997, punks from Oakland, California had dominated the rock charts by debuting with Dookie in 1994 and following up with Insomniac in 1995. Green Day released a collection of hits such as - "Basket Case", "Longview", "Welcome To Paradise" and "When I Come Around" - from Dookie and - "Geek Stink Breath", "Stuck With Me" and "Brain Stew/Jaded" - from Insomniac.

Released as their fifth studio album, Nimrod was released October 14, 1997 via Reprise Records as its original intent was for standalone songs, as opposed to a cohesive album. In retrospect, Nirmod was praised by critics for frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's lyricism and contains elements of folk, hardcore, surf rock and ska. The album peaked at number ten on the Billboard US Charts and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Featured singles from Nimrod were "Hitchin' A Ride", "Redundant", "Nice Guys Finish Last" and the all-too-memorable "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life".

Nimrod was recorded at Conway Studios in Los Angeles and the fourteen-hour session days resulted in members becoming involved in heavy drinking and acting out. Bassist Mike Dirnt stated, "One night one of us was walking down the halls knocking on people's doors while naked." Another incident involved drummer Tre Cool throwing his TV out of his hotel room window. Armstrong commented, "There was a lot of glass. You have to live that arrogant lifestyle every now and then." While working on Nimrod, the band explained to their producer Rob Cavallo their desire to create a more experimental album because the band was tired of recording the traditional three-chord song structure.

Armstrong explained this was the album he'd wanted to make since the band started. He wanted to preserve the quality of his songwriting by beginning each song on an acoustic guitar and later adding the other members for harder instrumentation and faster tempos. Dirnt explained the recording of this album was much more loosely structured than previous albums and that creating songs was the focus as opposed to making a cohesive record.

"Each song has its own character and identity so we wanted to be able to bring that out as much as possible."

Nimrod kicks off with fast-tempo "Nice Guys Finish Last" featuring an infectious chorus, raging guitars, heavy bassline and thundering drums. The music video for the track features Green Day as a mock football team and the stage is set for how football games go - Billie gets tackled by a fan, Mike sprains his ankle and a coach motivates them in a locker room midway through the song. "Hitchin' A Ride" which debuted as the album's first single in August 1997, opens with a Middle-Eastern inspired violin that progresses into a harder track with screeching guitars and a thrilling bassline. The music video enhances the band performing in the prohibition era amongst several characters in costumes.

Heading into "The Grouch", the track centers on Armstrong's fears of "wasting away, getting fat, becoming impotent and losing his ideals." The upbeat song features a chorus with relatable lyrics - "The world owes me so fuck you", funky basslines, repetitive drums and a catchy guitar riff. Leading into ballad "Redundant", we're met with a track that's on the softer side presenting a slower guitar track with emotional lyrics - "I love you's not enough/I'm loss for words." The meaning behind the track was Armstrong's marriage had been deteriorating at the time and the song reflects on two points - passion for his wife and the repetitious pattern the relationship had fallen into.

One of the most controversial songs "Platypus (I Hate You)" has been theorized by fans as an ode to Tim Yohanan who was the owner of 924 Gilman Street (a club Green Day frequently played in Berkley, CA, home to tons of unsigned punk bands) banned Green Day from playing there when the band signed to Reprise Records ahead of recording Dookie. In the East Bay punk scene, it was considered "selling out" if you signed to a major label. With fast tempos, raging guitar riffs and rapid drumbeats, the lyrics present death threats and wishes nothing but the worst for the person the narrator is speaking of.

"Uptight" contains repeated mentions of suicide. The track tells the story of a man battling alcoholism and depression and explains in its chorus - "Uptight, I'm a nag with a gun/All night, suicidie's last call." On "Walking Alone," Amstrong reflects on his friends from childhood and notes he's "too drunk to figure out they're fading away."

The ska-inspired track "King For A Day" embraces cross-dressing and features a horn section that was recorded by Gabrial McNair and Stephen Bradley of No Doubt. The song tells the story of how a young boy begins cross-dressing and is immediately thrown in therapy by his father so he can be taught to "be a real man", however, the boy disagrees and believes that anyone should be free to dress however they want and states that by doing this and not being a real man is completely outdated. The track has turned into a fifteen-minute set in the middle of Green Day shows where they dress up in costumes, feature horns and throw in "Shout!" by The Isley Brothers as part of it.

One of the most influential Green Day songs (much less one of the most inspirational songs ever) "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) was written in 1993 about Armstrong's failed relationship with a woman who joined the Peace Corps. Billie showed the song to the other members during the recording of Dookie, but was too different from the rest of the songs on the album. When the time came to record Nimrod, Billie decided to use the song and Cavallo suggested they add strings to the track. The song is used at countless graduations, celebrations, funerals, goodbyes and even on the finale of Seinfeld in 1998. The infamous lyrics - "It's something unpredictable but in the end it's right/I hope you had the time of your life" - have captivated us all for decades.

Closing out Nimrod is "Prosthetic Head" with its simple guitar riffs, simple drum beats and captivating bassline. All in all, Nimrod is NOT Dookie or American Idiot, as it's not mainstream and remains one of the most underrated Green Day albums.


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