By Paul Lane
DARIEN CENTER —
About 10 chart-toppers into the recent Green Day show at the Darien Lakes Amphitheater this past summer, the idea hit me.
These guys are destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I thought. And not in an eventually, “Andre Reed in the Pro Football Hall” kind of way. I mean first-ballot shoo-ins (if there actually are ballots for the Rock Hall).
A few years ago, prior to release of the multi-platinum “American Idiot,” that might not have been the case. But the subsequent resurrection of the band’s vitality generated by that album, and follow-up success of last year’s “21st Century Breakdown,” has solidified the band’s case for inclusion.
Even a very casual fan like myself could pick out hit after hit. “Basket Case,” “She,” “Hitchin’ a Ride,” “Holiday” — I knew just about ever song in the band’s set. And each of the songs was good if not great.
The band, which made a name for itself in the punk genre, has crossed over into more mainstream rock. Where Green Day records were once best played amongst friends aimlessly hanging out after class (or during it, should they be skipping school), the band’s recent themes of anti-war, anti-media, alienation and political activism have made Green Day a voice and an outlet for younger fans.
Its rock opera “American Idiot” has been adapted into a Broadway musical. The band made a cameo in and performed the theme song for “The Simpsons Movie” in 2007. The crowd at the Darien Lake show transcended generations, with near-seniors and teenagers alike singing along to Billie Joe Armstrong (who could be a top professional wrestler, at least in terms of how he works the crowd).
And that’s on top of 70 million records sold worldwide, six top-10 albums, four Grammys and two albums that hit No. 1 in the charts.
Not bad for the musicians about whom Hank Hill opined on “King of the Hill,” “It’s OK if you only know three chords, but God, put them in the right order.”
During an era in which grunge cast a melancholy shadow over the music scene, Green Day allowed listeners to have a bit of fun. Later, when hip hop and Auto-Tune pop made a mockery of the industry, Green Day proved that music can still be relevant to the world and push for change, rekindling the spirit if not the sound of punk.
The band adapted, thriving during each step of the journey. Not too many acts can make such a boast.
The Rock Hall dictates that bands need to have released a record at least 25 years prior to induction and “demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence” to be considered for enshrinement. Seeing as Green Day released its independent debut, “39/Smooth,” in 1990, the band’s fans should keep their calendars clear around induction time 2015.