Aloha! Let’s talk briefly about the human brain: It has a marvelous flexibility and one of the coolest things that it does all on its own is, over time, it diminishes not only the painful, but the mundane as well and at the same time embellishes what you think is great. This is what makes people think the past (pick whatever period you want) was some sort of golden era unlike today. But thirty years from now, we’ll probably look back and say it actually wasn’t all that bad.
Anyway, this is where nostalgia comes from. The food that wasn’t anything special – just food you ate as a kid – became comfort food as an adult, the TV shows that had all sorts of flaws became genius, and the music was the best ever offered.
Personally, I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Regardless of the psychology behind it, it brings a pleasant, warm feeling with it. A familiar feeling where you’re comfortable with whatever you’re thinking of.
This is especially true with music – just ask people what the greatest decade was for music and it’ll probably line up with when they were young.
Even though the only correct answer is the 1990s.
The 1990s was the BEST decade for music because no decade featured so much music from different genres getting so much attention from different audiences. There were still songwriters playing their own material in the pop world, metal went through changes from hair to heavy to nu, punk became accepted by the masses, hip hop went from crying for social justice to bragging about personal wealth (and even included its own small civil rights movement), and we even had a popular shock artist in the middle of it to freak out the parents.
And when my daughter was just a baby, I would play her songs from the 90s when she was crawling around on the floor, or to try to calm her down in the evenings. Today, even though she has her own music, she still knows the words to some of the songs and loves to sing along with them. And since she’s learning the ukulele, she wanted to play the songs I used to play on guitar on her own ukulele.
I decided that this can’t possibly be an isolated incident and would make a fun writing topic anyway, so I decided to get some books from Hal Leonard and indulge her (and my own) nostalgia.
So let’s start with what might be my favorite band of the 1990s: Green Day
Green Day is one of a handful of bands/groups/artists that not only have hits that span decades, but have hooked in fans from different generations. My kids would love to see a Green Day show, but so would I because I remember seeing them when I was fourteen and loving every minute of it.
They were pop punk before pop punk was a thing, and they were never scared to experiment with their music or sound and they’ve used this to grab different people for different reasons, but all finding something in the music be it fun, energy, stories, or something more personal.
And Green Day translates well to ukulele! The book I received is from Hal Leonard’s “Play-Along” series which aims to have you playing the songs quickly and easily. They aren’t making the songs any more intricate or difficult than they need to be in the transcriptions (music notation with chord boxes and TAB for solos), and they also include a CD to hear how the songs should sound (complete with a backing band), and then you can play with different tracks sans ukulele so you’re the star (and so you can get the timing down). You can use the CD in any CD player, but if you use it in your PC or Mac, you can also slow it down without changing pitch so you can work your way through any parts you may be having trouble with. That’s a pretty handy tool to have at your disposal.
The songs are easy to learn and fun to play. Most punk is. But unlike a lot of punk, Green Day’s songs always seemed to be filled with more hooks and melodies than a lot of either the screaming punk popular in the 80s or repetitive pop punk of the late 90s. They’ve always been a great compromise between punk rock tone and energy and pop melodies and this means the songs are fun to play, fun to sing along with, and fun to learn. People are quick to sing along with Green Day when you start playing.
The book features 12 songs that span just about their whole career from Dookie to 21st Century Breakdown. Personally, I’d love to see a more fleshed-out Green Day offering more songs, but these 12 will certainly get your foot in the door for the style of this fun band to play along with for $14.99!
Until next time!