I wonder how many parents, when they
buy their children Green Day CD's or
concert tickets, are actually aware of what
their kids are listening to. This immensely
popular alternative punk band seems to
have a widespread appeal to the under-15
crowd and is often marketed specifically
to that group.
Personally I am convinced that no
moral parent in the world would knowingly allow adolescent or pre-adolescent children to listen to, sing along with, or subliminally absorb the sort of lyrics, messages and images contained in songs sung
by Green Day and successfully promoted
by their super-mega-buck corporate sponsors Time-Warner. Most parents, I believe actually don't know, despite warning
stickers that may appear on the albums.
I've done some research.
The cover of a recent Green Day CD, "Kerplunk," depicts a teen-age girl holding a gun with smoke coming out of its
The liner notes are particularly interesting. "My Adventures with Green Day"
by Laurie L??? is a 1,300-word article written in the style of what one hopes is a
fictionalized diary entry.
It was included prominently in the liner notes but did not appear on either cover — apparently it was meant to be read
only after the CD had been purchased.
To synopsize briefly, it seems that Lauric L. has won a chance to go on tour
with the band Green Day for four days
but her parents won't let her. She says:
"For once I decided not to put up with
(my parents') crap. I'd die to go on tour
with Green Day ... but (a friend) asked
'would you kill'? ... and I said 'yeah, I
guess I would'... That night I offered to
help my mother with dinner. Then, when
she wasn't looking, I emptied all of
Claude's (poison) capsules into the
mashed potatoes. Then I said I didn't feel
like eating and went upstairs and listened
to all of my Green Day records five or six
times. After awhile I stuck my head out
"'Yuck!' I heard my father saying.
"These are the worst mashed potatoes I've
ever tasted in my life!'
"But my mother yelled at him, 'You
eat those potatoes or I'll dump them over
your head and shove the plate up your —'
"I went downstairs and they were both
flopped out on the floor like totally dead
. . . Luckily we have a brand-new garbage
disposal, so I took a butcher knife and
cut mom and dad into pieces and put
them down the garbage. It took a long
time, and it was kind of messy, but I kept
singing all my favorite Green Day songs
and it made the work easier."
Later, Laurie tells Green Day's Billy
Joe she killed her parents to be with the
band. Billy Joe laughs. "Killed your parents, huh? That's pretty cool."
Kerplunk has a track entitled "Dominated Love Slave":
"I want to be your dominated love
slave/I want to be the one that takes the
pain/You can spank me when I do not
behave/I want you to slap me and call me
naughty/Put a belt sander against my
Green Day's most popular disc to date, "Dookie" was backed by Time-Warner
and sold 8 million copies. There's much
to choose from in this sick, warped and
successful disc, but here is a selection.
(The tape is available at every music store
and probably almost any child between 10
and 15 can sing the lyrics to you.)
The song "Pulling Teeth" is about a
boy who is repeatedly beaten by his girlfriend.
"Basket Case" includes the lines: "I
went to a shrink to analyze my
dreams/SHE said it's lack of sex that's
bringing you down/I went to a whore HE
said my life's a bore/And quit my whining
'cause its bringing HER down."
By no means are Billy Joe Armstrong
or Green Day the sole or worst offenders
in the category of corporate-produced
trash. The band's earliest recordings,
though no less controversial, seem to be
more of an exploration of the psychological damage suffered by one sick individual
and, possibly, his attempts to heal himself
But between the prodding of corporate
sponsors and perhaps the band's own desires to pander to perverse tastes, Billy
Joe and the boys from Green Day have
become unfit for children. Parents be
FRANK PARLATO JR., a real estate developer and social activist, lives in Tonawanda.
The following is a response to the above article, 10 years after it was written
January 12, 2007
I just finished reading your highly amusing article "Parents should check
out punk band's lyrics". First off, you try and come off all clever, as
though you have done your homework into the subject matter, when in fact,
you can't even spell the "psychologically damaged" persons name correctly.
Shows how much you researched your information. This concerns me as I no
longer believe what I read as it all could all just be.....made up. It
especially worries me that other will believe that everything your writing
You listed the lyrcis of 'Basket Case', capitalising the 'SHE' and 'HE' sections. To me, its as though your saying its appaling because its a male whore. Are you saying if it was a female whore that I'd be ok? Sounds a bit homophobic to me....
Why do you pick on Green Day and Punk Rock in general? You think its wrong to have a cartoon gun on the front of an album cover (which can easily be viewed in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry) but be ok with black gangsters with real guns on the front? Almost every rap song includes something about killing and prostitutes and is still bought by people of thesame age. Which is why it confuses me that you chose Punk Rock to pick on for the hell of it.
So basically, I don't understand what your article means..... you've
decided to choose a genre just because you don't like that style of music and criticise every aspect of it when other genres are worse on the topics you brought up.
Parents be warned.....don't believe everything you read on the internet as they probably haven't done thier research.
Here is Frank Parlato's rebuttal to his letter
I published that green day article about ten years ago, (April 10th, 1996) inspired by my then eight year old son's interest in that particular band.
What I found interesting at the time was the way the promoters of the band marketed the band to pre-adolescent kids.
A few points you made might be worth clarifying
You wrote "You listed the lyrics of 'Basket Case', capitalizing the 'SHE' and 'HE' sections. To me, it's as though you're saying it's appalling because it's a male whore. Are you saying if it was a female whore that I'd be ok? Sounds a bit homophobic to me...."
I think that a singer singing songs for children - going to a whore - male or female is perverse. Not so much for going to the whore, but for singing about it. Next, whereas I am not afraid of homosexuality, I do not like to see it promoted to children. And while I believe that it is the right of every individual to choose their own lifestyle, I personally believe that some of the practices normally employed by male homosexuals are not conducive to good health."
>>" Why do you pick on Green Day and Punk Rock in general? You think it's
wrong to have a cartoon gun on the front of an album cover (which can
easily be viewed in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry) but be ok with black
gangsters with real guns on the front? Almost every rap song includes
something about killing and prostitutes and is still bought by people of
the same age. Which is why it confuses me that you chose Punk Rock to
pick on for the hell of it."<<
I am not of course picking on Punk for the hell of it. I am currently writing a series of article on Gangster Rap - which is far more hideous than Green Day.... At that time, 10 years ago, my eight year old son asked me about "what being stoned" meant? That's when I started looking into their lyrics. I found it pretty convincing when I observed that their concerts had mainly early teens and pre-teens in the audience, and at one concert, they had an adults area- where they served the parents alcohol and provided entertainment - while their children were inside listening to lyrics about going to whores, getting stoned, having your girlfriend beat you up, and masturbation.
I asked a number of parents about these lyrics and none of them even had a clue until it was brought to their attention.... Is that picking on Punk, I don't know.... It deserves to be mentioned that parents are not always aware of the hidden messages that media foists upon their children. That
was the point of the article. Ten years later, I know the problem is worse- and there are worse genres than punk- but I stand by what I wrote...
Thanks for your comments...