Once Upon a Time at the Top of the Charts: Green Day, “When I Come Around”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Once Upon a Time at the Top of the Charts: Green Day, “When I Come Around”

Here’s one of those anniversaries that’ll really make you feel old, because this can’t possibly have happened 20 years ago…except that it did. Yes, as much as we hate to be the bearing of depressing news, it’s true: as of today, it’s been two freaking decades since Green Day topped Billboard’s Modern Rock chart with “When I Come Around.”

The fourth single from the band’s third full-length studio release, 1994’s Dookie, “When I Come Around” proved to be the most popular radio single of Green Day’s initial burst of success, breaking them fully into the mainstream by taking them all the way to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Indeed, even as the band’s success continued to grow, the song still remained their second most successful single of the ‘90s, topped only by the ubiquitous “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”

“When I Come Around” was inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong’s future wife, Adrienne, from whom he was estranged at the time he wrote the song. Thankfully, however, there was indeed a bit of coming around: the couple were married on July 2, 1994. Given that Dookie had been released five months earlier, we’d like to think that the song had something to do with the resulting reconciliation – we’re just romantic that way – but based on Armstrong’s comments to Rolling Stone last year, it was probably incidental: of the proximity between the album’s release and his nuptials, he admitted, “I was very impulsive at that time, (and) I think that impulsive behavior was meant to counteract the chaos in my life.”

Given that Billie Joe and Adrienne are still married, it must’ve worked.