Green Day has undergone multiple transformations and alterations in musical direction over the years. Younger or newer fans may only be familiar with some of their most recent work, but what was their first song?
Green Day’s first song, released under Lookout Records, was “1,000 Hours”. Recorded and released before any of the band members had even reached their 20s, the song has all the hallmarks of a Green Day track, including the unique vocals of Billie Joe Armstrong.
Despite only being in their late teens at the time of recording “1,000 Hours”, any fan of Green Day that has listened to enough of their musical catalog will immediately be able to recognize the immortal, unchanging style of Armstrong’s vocals.
If your rifling through your music collection wondering why you’ve never heard it before, it might be the fact that they went under a different name when they first recorded it.
The reason that you might have never heard it, despite it being an incredibly early, obscure release, is the fact that it wasn’t technically Green Day who recorded it. It was another band by the name of Sweet Children, the pre-Green Day incarnation of Billie Joe Armstrong’s and Mike Dirnt’s foray into the musical world.
Hearing the rebellious sound and punk rock heart of the track, as well as all the others on the 1,000 Hours EP, and the meaning behind some of the lyrical content, it seems that they were anything but Sweet Children. Appropriate then that they soon dropped the name in favor of “Green Day”.
The renaming process was done under pressure from the idea that they might be confused with another band in their area going by the name Sweet Baby. Understandable that they wanted to distance themselves, seeing as Sweet Baby was another band sporting a punk style, albeit with a poppy twist.
The name that they settled on as they finally released the EP, was Green Day, the name that we now commonly associate with the punk rock sensation they became. Though the moniker has since transcended to a status that has shed its original meaning, the name was actually just a reference to the band members’ love for cannabis.
Good that they stuck with it though, I think everyone can agree that Green Day has a significant edge in catchiness and style over Sweet Children. Despite that, they still had one last love letter for the old band name, later releasing an EP titled Sweet Children.
One of Music’s Oldest Companions
Perhaps one of the oldest, most tried and true themes of songwriting also accompanied “1,000 Hours”. That theme is the notion of unrequited love, the feeling of being so utterly lost in the murky and deep waters of an affair of the heart that the only avenue left available to express your feelings is the pen.
The entirety of the 1,000 Hours EP was something of a punk rock sonnet to Armstrong’s unrequited love towards a best friend’s sister. Not surprising for the then-teenager Armstrong to be smitten and afflicted by all the usual confusion and angst that comes knocking along with young adulthood.
Clearly, in this case, the adage of writing about what you know proves itself to be true, as much of Green Day’s earliest lyricism is punctuated by the same kind of themes and stories.
Green Day’s Future
Following the release of a few EP’s and a couple of years of working away at their craft, Green Day eventually came to the point where they released their first major album, Dookie.
A far cry away from the “1,000 Hours” days, now riding a mounting wave of popularity off the back of their release of second album Kerplunk, Green Day found themselves looking down the barrel of some serious commercial success. Backed by their new label, Reprise, and industry veteran producer Rob Cavallo, Dookie would prove to be the device that propelled the group into worldwide fame.
Despite the fact it seems to be a far cry away from their original music, much of the punk rock spirit that made Green Day so popular was still clearly present in even their more rudimentary music at the beginning of their career.
Fans of the vocals in particular will be pleased with hearing Armstrong’s signature vocal style equally as pleasing to listen to even all the way at the beginning of his career.