Back in 1995, I was a 17-year-old growing up in Pleasant Hill, CA, and a few of my friends were big Green Day fans. I thought they were alright. If I was going to take time away from rocking out to Metallica, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Ozzy Osbourne, I’d have rather spent time digging into first-generation punk rock (Ramones, Sex Pistols, etc.) than a band like Green Day, but as time has gone on, they’ve earned a place in my heart by always being around, not being afraid to experiment, and maybe most importantly, being from the same neck of the woods as I am.
As teenagers, we were always looking for a place to hang out sans parental supervision. Occasionally, there would be a friend whose parents were dumb enough to leave him or her home alone for a few days while they were out of town, and there were actually a few parents that were cool with their kids smoking cigarettes/weed and drinking alcohol in their homes while they were there, but those were always low-key affairs. You couldn’t have too many people over to the spot or two that condoned underage drinking and drug use, so were were always on the lookout for a gathering spot on Friday or Saturday night. In my hometown and neighboring Martinez, CA where a lot of my classmates lived, we had a lot of hills and months and months of mild weather, so an outdoor party on the top of one of these hills was occasionally an option, but a nearby neighbor would almost always call the police, so parties of this nature weren’t all that common.
You might be wondering where Green Day enters into all of this. Well, the friends that I mentioned earlier definitely jumped onto the “Green Day Express” in 1994 following the release of Dookie, and while most of the fans that the band picked up at that time owned the breakthrough album, not all of them went into their back catalog to rock out to 39/Smooth and Kerplunk!, but my buddies did and they discovered a song called “Christie Road.” In the song, Billie Joe mentions not having anything to do and wanting to go to the place that he calls home, “the tracks at Christie Road.” Now, keep in mind that this is long before Google was a thing and smartphones were still 15 years away, so finding things out took a little legwork and what do you know? One of my friends discovered that the actual Christie Road was off of Hwy 4, just outside of Billie Joe’s hometown of Rodeo, which was only a few miles from where we all lived. We scoped it out, and yeah, it was golden. A lonely road that ran adjacent to railroad tracks, far from any nosy neighbors was exactly the kind of spot where we could go with 30-50 people, a keg, and maybe even some wood for a nice little campfire. The 4 or 5 parties that I attended out there were golden, but eventually, as we all know, good things must come to an end. The Santa Fe police shut us down one night. Yes, Santa Fe police. We asked what was up with that and the officer explained that they handle all crimes against the railway. Apparently, a bunch of underage kids drinking alcohol, using drugs, and having open fires just a few feet from where trains carrying millions of dollars worth of cargo is a crime of some sort. The Santa Fe Railway Police Department is or was a thing, and may now fall under the BNSF umbrella, and those are the guys that shut us down. But hey, thanks for the tip, Billie Joe! It was fun while it lasted.