As today is Mike Dirnt’s birthday it is only right that we revisit one of his classic tracks, ‘Longview’. The debut single and fourth song from Green Day‘s iconic Dookie, the song marks Dirnt out as one of the best bassists in punk. It features that classic bassline and his clanky trademark sound. After all, he is named after the sound he thought a bass made when he was a child: “dirnt, dirnt, dirnt”, a sound he has come to embody in more ways than one.
The song is revered as one of the band’s finest and describes intense boredom, a typically punk theme, first outlined by Buzzcocks in 1978. Lyrically, the song concerns a day spent sitting around at home, doing nothing apart from masturbating and smoking marijuana. This is typical of Green Day at the time.
The song captured the hearts and minds of a generation of kids upon release, particularly with its overt descriptions of masturbation and serial scoffing at the world around them. In keeping with this theme of suburban boredom, Dirnt has stated that this famous bassline, that drives ‘Longview‘ was actually written while tripping on LSD.
What remains on the track we now know as ‘Longview’ is what he and lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong could piece together the next morning. In 1995 Dirnt recalled: “When Billie gave me a shuffle beat for Longview, I was frying on acid so hard.
“I was laying up against the wall with my bass lying on my lap. It just came to me. I said, ‘Billie, check this out. Isn’t this the wackiest thing you’ve ever heard?’ Later, it took me a long time to be able to play it, but it made sense when I was on drugs.”
Showing the iconic stature of this bassline, this is the one that on the 21st Century Breakdown World Tour and Revolution Radio Tour, Billie Joe would pick a random audience member to sing or play the guitar with on stage. It is a testament to the solid, hooky work of Dirnt that the band can enjoy these moments with fans.
On ‘Longview,’ Dirnt undoubtedly delivers a classic lick. It is a melodic, walking bassline that shows his origins as a guitarist rather than a bassist. Yes, in the grand scheme of basslines it isn’t massively complex, but it does show Dirnt’s undeniable quality as a bassist as it is simple yet assured, understanding what a bassline should do. Showing his legendary status Fender have even given him his own signature range of bass guitars.
Listen to his isolated bass line on Green Day’s iconic ‘Longview’ below.