Green Party

How punk popsters Green Day had a midlife crisis and came up with a personal, political, Grammy-nominated rock opera

Green Day singer-guitarist, Billie Joe Armstrong, once proclaimed in song, "I'm a smart-ass, but I'm playing dumb," and for many years his performance was seamless. Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool met in their late teens and displayed natural gifts for propulsive, funny, disposable punk-pop songs about masturbation and alienation. In 1994 Dookie, their first major-label album, sold 10 million copies. Multimillionaires at 22, the members of Green Day settled into a routine of churning out blink-and-they're-over records followed closely by triumphant world tours. They were not quite criminally lucky, but they weren't exactly paragons of ambition either. Sometimes,...