Hi Green Day, nice to see you again.

Dear Billie Joe Armstrong & Green Day,

Five years ago, I pulled up a seat next to Scott [Miller, New Line Theatre] after our last rehearsal for my first musical gig as a professional guitarist. We were dining across the street at Applebee’s or something after a long night of detailed run-throughs. That weekend was opening weekend. Preview night was the next day.

The conversation was good and so was the downtime with my new co-workers. My experience with theatre was limited but I liked talking about improv and we did. I knew Scott was a rocker so I asked him if he’d ever consider doing American Idiot, “you know, the one by Green Day.” It was on his list already (of course). I promised myself I’d play that show and five years later, (seventeen years after it first opened in California and went on to Broadway, and four years after the national tour in St. Louis at the Peabody Opera House) It’s our turn! Us locals finally get to take it on in when it comes to New Line Theatre for four weeks in March. It’s here,  I’m doing it, it’s happening.

ADfm American Idiot
My copy of the score for Guitar 2

I’m sure you love that my students are learning your stuff still. Them and their guitars look just like I did back in the day, except they have someone to talk about chord building and minor scale vocab with. I know you’re proud of American Idiot. It’s a freakin’ beast of an album that’s here to stay. After watching your making-of documentary I’d say it’ll leave a good dent in the theatre world too. Congrats on the Tony for best cast album. It’s so cool how influenced you became by this whole thing. Maybe, given your vocal lessons and performances singing showtunes as a kid, you secretly hoped that someday  you’d be performing your songs at the Tony awards.

Anyway, here’s that pic from Wednesday. Look at us: I’m wearing a cowl-neck sweater with elbow patches and you’re spiral-bound and published LOL! Me & Green Day

I love how far we’ve come. In [the above mentioned] Broadway Idiot you and your wife were the best dressed ones (with Mike [Dirnt, bassist] a close second). Remember that pic of you – I don’t remember which magazine I saw it in now (maybe Circus or Parade? Guitar World?) –  of you getting pulled back from a wall or fence that you’re trying to climb? That was one of the first images I had of you guys as I was reading about you in magazines when Dookie came out and wanting to be a part of whatever this fun counter-culture was (I had nothing to rebel against and still don’t.) Even though punk rock seemed kind of dangerous to me in seventh grade, my friends and their older brothers showed me what it looked like in real life (suburbia) and I loved it. Now, twenty years later, I have the maturity to respect it and love it even harder.

 

American Idiot Fence Jumper (crop)
Found this online somewhere  but it is the same photo as the one I saw as a kid!

So for this show, I’d like to primarily use my (unnamed) stickered-up Squire. That and my Marshall combo is about as close to your live rig as I can get except for the fact that I just installed Fishman pickups in my acoustic. I’m pretty excited about adding a tremolo pedal to my collection for the intro of Blvd… They say you used an M Audio Black Box multi for that? Anyway, I can’t wait to dig into this stuff. I can’t wait to setup in New Line Theatre’s brand new (shared) space at the Marcelle downtown. I can’t wait to rock it so hard.

90's guitars
Billie’s “Blue” Fender Strat is a punk rock masterpiece. My stickered-up Squire almost got there.

I probably won’t smash my guitar: A) There’s too much talent on stage to steal the show like that; B) I can’t afford to replace it; C) I wouldn’t be able to repair it either; D) I’d be scared that I couldn’t actually break it and it would just dent the stage floor and hurt my wrist and; E) It’s got to live long enough to be named!

One little whiney bit here: The other day when I was practicing the arpeggios to “Before The Lobotomy…” I realized it’s in Eb tuning. You punk. Now I have to use three guitars. I hate you. That’s all the guitars I have! I need groupies now.

ADfm American Idiot (Before The Lobotomy)
Tuning down a half-step is worth it for a punk anthem.

Ok I gotta go walk the dog and drive to KWMU where I’m gonna email you for real and talk you in to coming out for this production and playing guitar for a song or two (depending on how generous I feel). Let’s talk shop more next time when after I’ve really spent some time on this. Honestly, I know this stuff pretty well already. I just did a pretty awesome rendition of a couple of your songs at my monthly open mic night last Saturday. My students and I played “Blvd…” and “21 Guns”. Of course all my lessons from now till March will be American Idiot songs, and with such a heavy album I’ll have plenty to reflect on next week. Till then sir…

Cheers,

Aaron

Author: aarondoerr

Owner of Fellow Musician LLC, a small music education business specializing in outreach and private study. I'm guitarist for musical theatre and production assistant at St. Louis Public Radio.

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