Song Review: Green Day’s “Let Yourself Go”

A programming note – this blog works well when people are interested and want to participate.  To do so, please a) post your comments in the blog, b) suggest your review ideas at, or c) write a guest review and submit it to the same address.  If you know me, run your idea by me, and I’ll likely OK it.  If not, email it to me, and I’m still happy to listen.  On to today’s review…


Below link is NSFW for language:

I have to confess, I don’t know why some people hate Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown in such egregious fashion.  Sure, Breakdown lacked a sense of up-tempo fun in spots that permeated American Idiot, but it’s a musically diverse album full of top-notch tunes.  Is it better than American Idiot?  No.  Is anything Green Day’s done in its career better than American Idiot?  Sorry to those folks who can’t get out of 1994, but no.  That being said, we probably don’t need a third Green Day political album – and obviously, the band’s backbone is largely the energetic punk rock from the first decade or so of its existence.

Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre’ Cool aren’t kids anymore, though – so even with a set of three albums due out over the coming months, it’s a fair question to ask if the band could recreate the sound of Dookie, or even something like Nimrod.  Debut single “Oh Love” was a fine, poppy start, but probably belongs more in the “solid” category than the “spectacular” one.  Second single “Kill the DJ” showed some more promise with a Clash-esque riff, though I could do without Billie Joe’s auto-tuned vocals.  But “Let Yourself Go”, the third single off of debut album ¡Uno!, kicks the band back into a whole new gear.  This tune isn’t just awesome enough for regular text – it is bold-faced awesome.

“Let Yourself Go” first popped onto my radar screen at the beginning of August, when the band released a live video of the song from a November 2011 performance in Austin, Texas.  Like most Green Day songs, it’s recognizable from the first guitar strum, and like most Green Day songs, it’s not full of the most complicated chord arrangements around.  But it is a blistering tour de force that barely lets up over three minutes (three and one-half or so, in the live version).  The band isn’t reinventing the wheel – but honestly, it’s somewhat refreshing to hear that.  There’s nothing wrong with back to basics at this point, right?

The live video: also NSFW

Lyrically, Billie Joe is basically telling us to loosen up here.  “Shut your mouth, ‘cause you’re talking too much”, he begins, adding that, in no uncertain words, he doesn’t really care.  He’s got someone “screaming in my ear”, “thinning my patience again” and “getting on my every last nerve”.  Political?  Doesn’t sound like it – this is just old-school Green Day riffing with a punch.  This isn’t Billie Joe screaming about George W. Bush – this is Billie Joe screaming to lighten up and have fun, perhaps a welcome change from a more somber attitude that we heard at times in 21st Century Breakdown.

(Quick aside time: man, I feel like I’ve been crushing Breakdown here, and I really don’t want to.  It’s one of my favorite Green Day albums, and I can’t help but feel like it was unfairly crushed under the weight of American Idiot.  I’m just happy that Green Day seems to be going in a different direction after taking out some of its political and cultural fury, that’s all.)

This was one of the Google Image results for “American Idiot”. Yeah, I don’t know.

It’s worth noting here that the live version of Let Yourself Go is significantly better than the studio version, unless you’re opposed to Billie Joe swearing up a storm.  The energy is higher, the riffs are a tad stronger and faster, the punch is a little sharper…and the vocals aren’t messed with.  Once again, I’m concerned with the obvious use of some sort of auto-tuning agent on this album – especially with two albums to follow.  But for now, that’s a fairly minor quibble.  I’ll take back a more punk-sounding Green Day and enjoy it.  More of this, please.

Grade: A-


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