GREEN DAY'S GETTING THE PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY SPIRIT OF LIBERTY AWARD
More often than not, the big Inside the Beltway civil liberties and progressive advocacy organizations might be hard for regular Americans to relate to, especially Americans under 40. Hard as they try-- and the ones I'm in touch with do try hard-- there's often a social disconnect somewhere along the line. People For the American Way, the granddaddy of 'em all, just announced something that is very easily relatable for the vast majority of young Americans. On October 10, they'll be presenting their Spirit of Liberty Award to Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt-- GREEN DAY-- the 2006 Spirit of Liberty Award. PFAW has all the info about the ceremony, as well as the other nominees, here and I'm sure they add the Green Day information in a day or two. (It just happened.)
When I worked at Warner Bros, Green Day got signed. Warner Bros has never been real good at breaking new band from scratch. Warner Bros has always been VERY good at taking independent self-starters, like R.E.M., the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day, and helping to break them gigantically. When Green Day came to Warner Bros, they had been touring incessantly, releasing indie albums and building a fan base-- and selling hundreds of thousands of CDs. I stopped counting when the first album they released for Warner Bros., DOOKIE, sold 20,000,000, something few artists in history have accomplished.
It's wonderful when any artist has that kind of commercial success. It's even more wonderful when the artists are down-to-earth and real. Billie, Tre and Mike may be avid readers for all I know, but they don't get their core political ideas from books. It always struck me that those ideas and values came from their basic, formative life experience-- which makes them far more powerful and, in Green Day's case, more easy to get across to a mass audience.
In my view, American Idiot is as important to understanding the Bush era as is Daily Kos or books like David Sirota's Hostile Takeover or films by Michael Moore or Robert Greenwald. In the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and The Clash, Green Day are songwriters who have managed to harness their generation's most basic relationships to society and expressing it, powerfully and viscerally, for the entire world. I asked Norman Lear, the esteemed founder of People For the American Way, what he thought about Green Day being honored by the organization he founded. His enthusiasm was palpable. "Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that 'A man must be part of the passion of his times at the risk of being judged not to have lived.' By that standard, How fully alive is Green Day!"
Nothing's going to keep me from their presentation October 10. Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame will be speaking too. Green Day and Joe and Valerie... what a combination!! The only other rockers who have gotten the Spirit of Liberty Award were Neil Young and Don Henley. Normally the kinds of people who get these awards have been Bill Moyers, Walter Cronkite, Ted Turner, Teddy Kennedy, Charles Kuralt, Aaron Sorkin, the South Park guys, Nancy Pelosi, Norman Lear, Ben Affleck, George Lopez, Barbara Jordan, Ed Norton, Gore Vidal, George Clooney, Dick Durbin... Meanwhile, I'll just keep listening to their great albums and watching their videos.
Labels: Green Day