Me & Mr. Armstrong

Green Day is more a band of my children’s era than my own. So not sure why I read the article in Sunday’s New York Times about the band’s long journey to their upcoming release, other than the fact that the creative process, in all its forms, fascinates me.

While I’m fond of telling my students that it is the job of the artist to make new, to break out of all the all forms that have come before, there are some things about the creative process that remain constant. This was brought home to me most especially in a segment of “The Morning After American Idiot” when writer Jon Pareles draws out Billie Joe Armstrong about the songwriting part of the new album. 

When it was time to get the album together, the band’s producer liked a couple of tracks that had been left unfinished. He pushed for the completion of the ballad “Restless Heart Syndrome.” This set off a bit of insecurity in Mr. Armstrong, who says “Sometimes I think a melody asks something from you that you don’t want to necessarily face.”

And there it was, the crux of the matter when it comes to the creative process. It’s not always easy, but the best parts of any creative endeavor come through only if we push ourselves futher than we think we can go.


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