Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Sven-Sebastian)

Music

The Green Day song Billie Joe Armstrong compared to a Beatles classic

@notmyyaztattoo

Comparing yourself to The Beatles and other rock legends might not always go over well in the music world, but how about admitting a little bit of inspiration? It seems that both of those things are how Billie Joe Armstrong approaches a certain song he wrote for his band, Green Day.

In case for some reason you’ve remained unaware, Green Day was formed in 1987 in California, coming out with their first album in 1990. They’ve had quite the career since, dominating alternative and rock charts throughout the 2000s, with their most recent studio album having been released in 2020.

Their fourth studio album, Insomniac, might not have been the fan favourite in the same way that Dookie and American Idiot were, Insomniac still had plenty of great songs, including ‘Brain Stew’, which Billie Joe Armstrong still maintains was a defining track for him.

On writing the song, he recalls, “This song is such a dark horse. I had just gotten some recording equipment, and I came up with the riff when I was experimenting with it for the first time: ‘Oh, this is cool. It almost sounds like a harder Beatles song.'”

What Beatles song was that? None other than ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. However, the song has its own defined meaning. Armstrong says, “The song is about methamphetamine, not being able to sleep, and staying up all night. It was something that was creeping into our punk scene at the time, and I definitely did my experimenting with it. It’s just such an evil drug.”

Although the song definitely lives apart in its own right, it is easy to notice some of the melodic similarities. ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is definitely softer, but even the tonality can be comparable when you look a little closer. Featuring on The Beatles’ classic White Album, George Harrison composed the song while discovering eastern philosophy, he said of the track: “I wrote ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ at my mother’s house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes… The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence – every little item that’s going down has a purpose.

“‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was a simple study based on that theory,” Harrison continued in the notes of their Anthology release I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book – as it would be a relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random, opened it, saw ‘gently weeps’, then laid the book down again and started the song.”

Coincidentally, neither of these songs charted as singles, as ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was only released on the album, and ‘Brain Stew’ simply missed the opportunity to chart as a single when released. Regardless, both of these songs have continued to have an impact, including the former’s clear impact on the latter.

If you want to listen to the Green Day song that Billie Joe Armstrong admits sounds a little like the beloved Beatles track, you can check it out right down below.