15. Green Day – ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ (1997)

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question but a lesson learned in time”

Written by Green Day

Produced by Rob Cavallo/Green Day

Taken from the album Nimrod

Also released on Singles Box, International Superhits! and Bullet In A Bible

AUS #2, UK #11

In 1998, the sitcom Seinfeld aired it’s last episode. TV shows end all the time but this was a huge event, because Seinfeld was more than just a comedy, it was a cultural phenomenon, and one that has been dulled over the years through the sheer volume of imitators over the years. A bit like how it’s hard to explain to young music listeners about why Madonna was so revolutionary because everyone acts like her nowadays, it’s hard to comprehend how huge and important Seinfeld was in it’s original run. If you haven’t guessed by this point, it also happens to be my favourite television show of all time. Although I was only eight when it ended, and far below their target audience – or even of an age where I would get many of the jokes – I was so upset when it was aired the final episode. My personality would be quite different without Seinfeld’s influence on my humour and world outlook.

Of course, this all ties in to ‘Good Riddance’ because like millions upon millions of people, my first exposure to the song was during the retrospective Seinfeld episode that aired just before the finale. The way they went from hilarious outtakes into the sad guitar of this song was a jarring emotional moment, possibly the only example of that in the entire series, and I’m not ashamed to say it makes me shed a tear or two every time. Of course it wouldn’t have nearly as much impact if ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ wasn’t such a well-written song. Much gets made about how people interpret the song the “wrong” way – focusing more on the “time of your life” as opposed to the “good riddance”. But that’s one of the best things about it, you can take it any way you want.

“So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while”

The two verses from ‘Good Riddance’ are some of the most wonderful lyrics I’ve ever read, perfectly representing either a sad goodbye or a bitter, sarcastic farewell. Whether it gets played at a cheesy graduation ceremony or in a small bedroom, ‘Good Riddance’ allows the listener to apply the song to their own life, and never fails to provoke an emotional reaction.

“It’s something unpredictable
But in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life”

Music video:

Seinfeld montage from The Clip Show:

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