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A Review of Green Day’s New 30th Anniversary Dookie Outtakes Release 

And The Reason People In Power Don’t Like NFT Royalties

The most recent release by Green Day has hit Spotify! You can now listen to three previously unreleased tracks that didn’t make the cut for the upcoming 30th anniversary edition of Dookie. This release follows a drop that happened last month of a 4-track demo version of the album. Let’s dive in and rehash some memories.

Prequel: 4-Track Demos

It’s always a wild ride to see behind the curtain when you’re looking at something you’ve been extremely familiar with for decades. The tracks aren’t in the same order and they aren’t really even the same songs! In some cases the lyrics are completely different from the ones you’re probably familiar with.

It seems like a thing that might be uncomfortable or difficult to understand but give it a listen and you’ll see what I see — Billie Joe Armstrong’s songwriting process. I’ll go into a little more detail about the special connection I have to this album (at least to the 1995 Reprise release of it!) later, but the upshot is that I really enjoyed the 4-track demo release. 

Burnout is fairly similar to the version you’re familiar with, so you might be put off-guard when you hear the rest of the tracks. I don’t want to spoil it because I know lots and lots of people really love this album and I think you’ll enjoy the demo more if it’s new and unexpected when you first hear it. 

Still, it’s a review — I have to talk about the highlights a little bit. So, here’s the compromise. Stop reading now, and go listen to the album, and then come back and finish reading the article if you want the full effect.

“Basket Case” is a completely different song — and it is every bit as good as the 1995 release! There’s also a little extra flavor, probably because we’re a bit deeper inside of the band’s creative process.

“She” is a little easier to understand in terms of vocals unless they’re just lightly rewritten, in which case I still don’t know all the words to the 1995 version of the song.

“Sassafras Roots” was probably my favorite song on the original album for most of my teenage years. The undertones of loneliness and desire were just the exact right frequency to tune out some of the bad feelings I had back then. And the melody.. Something about the song just intoxicates me even these days.

My favorite song for the early days was a shoo-in: “When I Come Around.” I actually learned to play the bass guitar when I was a kid for the simple reason that none of the bass players I tried to jam with had any idea what Mike Dirnt was doing and I wanted to be able to teach them. Hearing the version on this demo is like getting an even closer look into what was probably my first real favorite song.

“When It’s Time” is a track I’ve never heard before but it fits right in with all of the favorites on this spectacular time capsule.

Okay, so that’s the 4-track demo. Let’s get to the main course: the outtakes.

The Outtakes

I’m hammering this article out at 9:30PM at a Starbucks the very first night I ever heard this album, less than 2 hours later, because of the connection I felt to the first track on this limited release. And yes, there will be spoilers, so go listen before you read on if you want to get the full effect.

Just like the 4-track demo release, the Outtakes are songs that haven’t made it onto Dookie in any form yet. They’re both extremely familiar and somehow also unexpected. 

“Christie Road” was a song on Kerplunk, an earlier Green Day album than Dookie that I listened to even after Dookie had become a little too popular for my taste. In this form, it’s clear the band had evolved a bit between the Kerplunk studio session and the Dookie one. It may have been recorded as a test or just because the band thought they could do a bit better with the delivery, but it’s not too different from the version you’re familiar with from Kerplunk.

Still, hearing this song for the first time in maybe ten years or so, I had a new thought when I was listening to it: this song is about a place. I don’t like the new Green Day very much because it is so difficult to connect with as a person. The band grew into successful famous people, and if there’s one thing the Replacements knew, it’s that success and money make you boring. You lose your edge because you’re not having to fight to survive every minute of every day.

Back in the 90s, there weren’t cellphones with portable maps of the whole world that people could carry around in their pockets and everybody had to meet up with each other out there somewhere. The insight that this song is about a real place and real people who really used the term “Christie Road” to designate a spot they could escape from some of the bullshit was really striking to me. More on that insight in the reflection to follow.

“409 in Your Coffeemaker” is completely new to me, and I really like it. I don’t really understand the song yet but 409 is a cleaning agent and not something I’d usually want in my coffee. Younger me would have really enjoyed the chorus of the song too, I definitely used to spend some time thinking about previous mistakes.

“Walking the Dog” opens up with a bong rip and has an air of just-for-fun to it. The guitar lines are classic blues and the recording sounds like it may have been live. It isn’t quite as poignant or introspective as the others but it carries a strong sense of the culture that gave rise to the band that would grow into an international sensation within a year or two from when it was recorded.

Thirty Years’ Perspective

Thirty years. Thirty. Years. I still can’t believe it has almost been that long since I fell in love with this music. I have to wonder how many other kids, isolated in whatever ways, also connected with this album. I have very rarely ever connected with anything so deeply as with Dookie. I stared at the album art for hours, cataloging doodles while I listened to the CD on repeat. I guess what must have happened is that I created a bunch of pathways in my brain that have somehow survived all the living that happened between then and now. These songs are like a time machine that I can use to whisk myself back to, if not perfect, at least happy and good times before the onset of the insanity of adolescence.

Things have changed so much since Dookie came out. There are articles in top newspapers about how people don’t even remember how they spent their time before smartphones, which didn’t even really take off until Dookie was fifteen years old. 

I didn’t feel compelled to leave the sauna early and rush to a coffee shop where I like just to write to tell you what I think about some music, though. I think hearing Dookie was one of the most important, if not the single most important event in my childhood. I had loved music since I was old enough to hum along with the radio, but here was an album that seemed to understand how I felt. It’s even more remarkable to think that this intense emotional connection happened over a distance of thousands of miles, songs written by people who had never met anyone I had ever met and who probably had never even been to any of the same places as anyone I knew. That’s the power of music, and once I felt it the first time I never stopped looking for more.

I’ll explain.

I remember listening to Dookie for the first time. I’d heard some of the songs in my dad’s truck driving around town and he’d explained to me that “music like this is very important to lots of kids everywhere,” which I suppose he’d learned by reading the Rolling Stone. My dad was a punk in his youth — doing his part to spread the gospel of St. Joe Strummer to his friends and coworkers since the late ’70s. I’m proud of him, but despite having a stellar dad, I wasn’t supposed to listen to Dookie — and so one day, of course, while he was at work I swiped it.

I put the CD into a little boombox that was in my room and pressed play. I’m not sure what I’d been expecting, but this wasn’t it. It took a few songs for the effect to start to really kick in. I finished the album at low volume somehow, but dad didn’t say anything about the CD being gone and I was hooked. Every day after summer camp I remember putting that CD in and turning the volume all the way up.

I went to a church summer camp, and I started talking to the other kids about Green Day — they didn’t like it, and they didn’t want me to talk about it. So there I was, for the first time experiencing a connection with an art movement despite my relative isolation and sequestration in dry, small Lubbock Texas. I was ten years old.

What had happened was simple: a meme (the album) had propagated from the recording studio into my bedroom in a turn of events that would have probably been impossible mere decades before, and would certainly have been impossible before recorded music was a thing. The circumstance was equally unique due to the emotional salience all of this had for me. Here I was, a sheltered kid from nowhere slated to lead the most boring life ever and already fairly unhappy about it. I’d put this record on and it made me feel like I could accomplish anything. I’d bounce around my bedroom by myself as if I’d eaten a pound of espresso beans or something, and nobody I knew had even the slightest inclination to see what I was so excited about.

As time went on, punk rock became an integral part of my culture. I played the only gig with a live band of my life in 9th grade, covering Green Day’s “Brain Stew” with no vocals because our singer chickened out. It was scary to us, but we mostly weren’t in too much trouble — that and my friends were basically poseurs I’d talked into this. They both went on to be high school athletes and popular guys who did as they were told. That was okay, the next year I started high school (yes, Lubbock did 3 years of high school starting in 10th grade back then) and made friends with all of the other punks I could find in Lubbock — there were maybe half a dozen of us, and I only really remember spending a lot of time with two of them.

I didn’t start to identify as a punk rocker until high school had been in session for a year or two, but I’d always been a total nerd so I found that I had the unique ability to be an ace in the classroom while also getting into the culture I was interested in. We had a few bands who would play shows and I just remember going and seeing music I vibed with and vibing with the other people who vibed with it and just being friends with everyone by the end of the night.

Culture, Music, and Money

Throughout my journey as a connoisseur of obscure music from a variety of genres, I’ve always at least put a little effort into listening to earlier material from bands I find via the normal channels. More often than not, especially with punk rock, you’ll find the grittiest, most down to earth stuff by looking at the early albums. Even bands like Rancid get a little more comfortable and it’s like their identity goes from an open question to being a solved problem. There’s something really special about the risks taken by bands on their way up, but before they separate themselves from their communities or get separated from their communities by money and comfort and getting older, the experiments that happen with all of the heart and commitment behind them are just really something.

And now we’re to the good part of this reflection about my first favorite album. I’ve explained how I discovered my love for music via Green Day and my dad, and I’ve waxed poetic about the strangeness of finding oneself in a position where you have culture but it’s far away. What I want to explain now is a hot take on a trend I’ve been studying very closely in my professional life the past few years. One way to sum it up might be to say that things are getting progressively weirder as technology gets more effective and easier to use.

The essay you’re reading may be about to get a bit weirder, too. I’ll take things slow and break each idea out into its own section. I’ll try to be sure to get enough explanation in with each segment, too.


I alluded to it earlier, in the review section, and again just now in Culture, Music, and Money — but here we can finally just come right out and say it. With no equivocation, pop music is a creative act by a songwriter who is not alone or isolated but instead part of a robust community of people who like the sort of thing the creator makes. 

There are some really interesting things that happen when we start to think about an album like Dookie that conquers the world — it’s the debut album of a band that started off as a group of people who were talented, driven, and lucky enough to make it big. Before Dookie, Green Day was already a fairly big deal. But they were part of a music scene that was, itself, a big deal. And so their friends and families and culture were still really closely attached to the creative process and performance activity of the group.

What happens when a band blows up the way Green Day did is that changes.

I don’t want to rehash the old Boxcar trope here, but instead I have a money connection in mind. What else happens when a band blows up? 

Well, who gets paid? Cui bono?

The band gets paid. And the record company’s investors get paid. The fans don’t get a dime, they get the shaft instead.

It makes a lot of sense to me to think about how alienating this is to the band, which has created itself from, within, and for that community. Even the songs are modeled to the community’s feedback. But all of those relationships die off. The people the band members spend their time with before they hit it big may try to stick around and in some cases maybe even do so successfully, but the neighborhood changes, the way the songs are written changes, and the things that people write about change too!

Just going from working a day job and really having to be super pissed off about that to channel enough energy into the “side project,” music, to now having a massive audience to please and a bunch of producers and managers around is itself a massive change in what the band members are feeling, thinking, doing for fun, and who they’re spending time with. And these things are basically what life is made of, and life is where songs come from. So it’s completely natural for a band’s sound to change and we don’t even have to attach a negative connotation to it because for lots of people this is exactly what they want.

All of this is just to drive home the point — the community of listeners is intimately involved in the creation of a piece of music. If they hate a song, they can talk shit to the band — and the band may drop that piece from their lists. Or rewrite it. 

It’s also fairly obvious what people think about a piece of music when you’re on the stage playing it. They can dance, mosh, jump up and down, or ignore you — and part of being a great performer is an uncanny ability some people develop to interact with this feedback loop by changing the way they’re performing.

As someone who tried for years to start a band anyone except myself would care about, has performed open mic nights at widely varying levels of skill, and hasn’t written a song or picked up a guitar in months — nothing will kill a song faster than never finding that first person who likes it.

Trust me, there are four or five dozen ghost songs floating around in my mind somewhere and I have no intention of trying to revive any of them. Nobody liked them enough to keep them alive — and don’t forget my taste and culture aren’t just the norm for where I live, so it isn’t like there were a lot of chances to try and find people who’d enjoy them in the first place.

In addition to my relative isolation killing my musician drive, I’m also very fortunate — I started writing, and put the writing online, and found a community of people who care about the things that come out of my mind that way. So don’t worry — I’m not really all that sad about the music thing not being where life took me, I got lots of great times in just playing the stereo and going to shows where other people took the stage!

My point in all of this is, just to recap before we get to the wildest part, is that 1. The community takes an essential role in the creation of any sort of widely circulated art and 2. The community changes over time, in the case of success looking a lot like exponential growth and in the case of failure looking more like a blip when the number of interested parties goes from 1 to 0.

Thought Experiment Setup

Picture Billie Joe Armstrong in the moment when he realizes he’s going to get a ton of money for his new record deal. Picture his face in the high end studio where Dookie was recorded. He’s comparing it to the previous records the band put out. But while we’re at it, pretend one thing is different. Instead of CDs, the record executives plan to sell digital collectibles that exist on the internet and give the entire world an instant opportunity to purchase the album. 

Further, this is what happened with the two previous Green Day albums as well, just at a lower and less-marketed scale. 

Are you following me? The weird part is what comes next, so I hope you are. We have one question to get started: what is different about this world?

A number of things come to mind. Bill Gates must’ve figured out how to build a value transfer layer into the Internet, for one thing!

But, far more relevant to our line of thought, the owners of the previous albums can be rewarded with a free copy of this new album. Album-holders may be able to get free tickets to the tour concerts. People, instead of scalping concert tickets, might prefer to follow a lot of bands early and buy their records in hopes that future albums will blow up and they can resell to a hungry market of new fans. The album might be free to listen to, even. Holding the album could grant access to hidden content, b-sides, and even future releases before they drop.

Still, none of these game-changing differences even comes close to the impact that digital collectibles could have had on the culture within which Green Day found itself.

This next bit is a little sticky, so I’ll try to make it accessible — the single biggest difference between the 1995 Green Day band that actually happened and the version in our hypothetical here isn’t the band itself at all. It’s the band’s community.

Remember earlier when we talked about the process by which a band’s community is changed when success creeps in? How the hunger goes away?

Well, another thing that happens is that they start targeting a new audience with their songs — they have wider reach, this is natural. It is the process by which the rich and famous are able to grow out of their starting point and become world class performers capable of entertaining thousands of people live and millions with their records.

But it is also the process that distributes wealth to the band and not to the band’s community.

Let that sink in for a second.

The community got nothing in 1995 when Billie Joe Armstrong got rich. Because Billie is an awesome guy who loved his community, he kept giving back and they did get lots of value out of it over time, but mostly it wasn’t monetary value. It wasn’t the type of value you can pay your mortgage with.

In a Rancid song, Tim Armstrong writes: “All my friends moved on, a simple domestic life, they’re all gone. Only a few of us remain, only a few of us wanna keep it the same,” (Trenches, 1993). Part of the reason most people leave music, just like me, is because they aren’t the people who end up being the best performers/writers and therefore can’t make money from the culture and have to find other ways to get by. So they move on. What if they didn’t need to?

Royalty-enabled digital collectibles give artists an opportunity to continue to earn from even a limited collection of actual assets, so picture this: you’re at a show at Gilman Street in the early 1990s, and you pay a few dollars to buy one of ten thousand copies of the band’s album. The band is fine with the idea that one day this collection might sell out and stop generating primary revenue, because they’ll continue to get royalties. The fans have an added incentive to support them, because they won’t lose the album (it’s online) and because they can potentially sell it to someone else for more money in the future if the band does well.

There’s actually a song by Jonathan Mann (aka SongADayMann) that does a great job of explaining this concept: Shout out to Jonathan! You do a great job of connecting with Web3 culture and it’s awesome to see you grow.

Alright, that’s the setup. Let’s move on to the experiment.

The Experiment

This won’t take long if we have a good grasp of the setup. The idea is simply this: what goes differently about Green Day’s career if they have an expanding pool of fans from earlier albums incentivized to promote them and follow along?

For one thing, the cultural alienation might not be as bad in this alternative universe. It might have been a little easier coming up, but even if it wasn’t, the early collectors of the band’s work would have a positional advantage in the market and might have been able to leverage this into any number of creative endeavors, stayed more closely involved with the band, and even continued to provide feedback on the songwriting, yielding better music over the years since Green Day’s peak.

This could happen to any band in the future, and while I’m not completely sure what to expect from deeper incentives aligning the community and the creator more effectively, I do think there is an excellent chance that it will be good for everyone involved.

The Reason People In Power Don’t Like Royalties

Alright, we’ve reached the conclusion of this essay. Let’s be sure to keep two things solidly in front-of-mind for this section:

The songs are the product of community engagement.

Early songs are about locations that locals know, issues the local community care about, and over the course of many live performances, they are shaped to the pleasure of that community.

These two points prove one thing: the community is doing part of the creative work. As the community members who have the most pull shift from surly audience members to record and marketing executives who want to maximize profit and aren’t afraid to influence the creative process to do so — in fact whose very involvement influences the creative process — we see the songwriting change and rightly so.

Now, instead of the money being handled exclusively by the record companies and agencies, if it was handled by transparent smart contracts that were publicly available, not only would costs go down because fewer managers were needed, but well-designed incentives could completely change the experience of being a fan.

Instead of delivering pizzas, a fan could be a curator or a speculator. Digital collectibles also make it possible for the fans to be on the other side of the world, so the internet increases the number of dimensions for self-promotion and fan discovery at the same time as it empowers local fans to essentially join their friends on stage.

People in power are generally boring people who don’t have much local culture in them. Instead, they analyze numbers and hobnob with fellow number people, analyzing data from culture to determine where next to attempt to extract a profit from said culture. In a tight, well-established digital collectible market, the ways to make money don’t necessarily include buying record company stocks because the digital collectible albums would provide an additional and, for your local scenester, a far more accessible route to a more precise sliver of the market.

Amazingly enough, I already have a few digital collectible albums in my collection. I got a Kings of Leon one back in 2021. It may seem wildly speculative, but the alternative universe presented here is probably less than a year away. Tools are coming to make Web3 technologies so easy to use that you won’t even need to know what they are — they’ll just be apps on your phone.

What’ll be different will be everything else. The way you interact with your favorite artist, the benefits you can gain by being active in a particular art or music community, and the opportunities you’ll have to create for yourself are all going to change a lot in a hurry.

The people in power don’t like this because they will suddenly have to do legwork instead of sitting on a monopoly. Or maybe they’ll adapt to the new conditions and start following scenesters with good taste, creating an incentive for such people to curate to their own tastes and interact with creative works in good faith. We’re seeing big pushes by the SEC to slow down the development of these technologies because, in the most extreme vision here, money becomes utterly subservient to culture and simply having a lot of dollars won’t be enough anymore. The value of the dollar could change, too, but what if your digital collectible collection was your ticket? Creators might seek curators with certain tastes, and the party could even be fairly private — Mark Cuban might not be able to buy his way in without a lot of research and legwork.

Make no mistake, the future is as yet unwritten, but it’s getting closer everyday and some of the changes that appear to be right around the corner are nothing short of astounding. We’re in for a hell of a wild ride. I have to end with a shout out to Green Day and all of the fantastic bands that I’ve loved listening to for so long. Life is better with ya’ll.