Punk classics offer tips for growing up

“Knowledge” – Operation Ivy – “Energy” (1989)

This is possibly and arguably one of the most iconic songs about growing up that has ever existed within the punk scene … the entirety of Green Day’s “Dookie,” aside. “Knowledge,” perfectly encapsulates that feeling of not quite knowing what to with your life. This is subsequently why the song continues to get continually covered by bands like Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers almost 30 years later.

“Teenagers” – My Chemical Romance – “The Black Parade” (2006)

Somehow, My Chemical Romance managed to channel The Offspring with this one and produce something even more confused and foreboding than anything else within their short career. It’s a song that everyone can get down to: cringeworthy middle schoolers, high schoolers that are in denial about their cringe-worthiness and the adults that are expected to teach them how to be functioning members of society.

“What’s My Age Again?” – blink-182 – “Enema of the State” (1999)

Blink-182, bless their hearts, were actually in their early to mid 20s when they wrote this song. However, all members are now well into their 40s, and fans don’t seem to find the fact that they haven’t lost their adolescent charm the least bit questionable. That’s a pretty strange case of Peter Pan Syndrome, my friends. Though Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker are still getting rich off of two-minute songs about fart jokes and prank calls, and if I had to connoiseur their catalog (for example, “Adam’s Song), “What’s My Age Again” still takes the cake.

“Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year” – Fall Out Boy – “From Under the Cork Tree” (2005)  

“The best part of believe is the ‘lie.’” Take a moment to flash back to the seventh grade, folks, because before Fall Out Boy went electronic, Pete Wentz had all of your teenage angst covered. “From Under the Cork Tree” itself was a metaphorically golden record, from the singles to the B-sides. However, despite all of the other choices of comically long song titles and tongue in cheek digs, there’s nothing quite like “Sophomore Slump.” It is possibly the most lyrically intricate song that they ever produced during the span of their 15 years within the music industry. It’s the kind of song that forces you to believe that they could last 15 years more.

“I Was a Teenage Anarchist” – Against Me! – “White Crosses” (2011) 

Nostalgia, oh, glorious nostalgia. Who would’ve ever thought that the band that cranked out “Thrash Unreal” and “Baby, I’m an Anarchist” could have the emotional capacity to look back in utter candor? Laura Jane Grace herself validates the veracity of most performances by prefacing the song with “this is a true story.” Nevertheless, nobody forgets that feeling of wanting to set the world on fire and finding out the revolution was a lie. There are so many different points of view to analyze the song in that it’s going to stick with you until the day you die.

“Jesus of Suburbia” – Green Day – “American Idiot” (2004)  

If there was ever a song that I could call my favorite, this nine minute ballad would be it. “Jesus of Suburbia” is divided into five chapters that explore the basic muses of life: angst, existential fear, apathy, rage and love. Most importantly, it is from the point of view of somebody who is trying to find the delicate balance of those things, and it is not totally directed toward an adolescent demographic. Those emotions are easily accessible at any age. They only reincarnate themselves in different manners, and that’s what makes “Jesus of Suburbia” so special. No matter what age or what stage you are at in your life, this song is relatable. It never gets old, even after 13 years.

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