Cover Stories: Green Day, ‘Dookie’
There was a time when every dentists' lobby included the same thing: No, not hunting trophies -- a kids' magazine named Highlights. I don't know that any of us actually read it. Instead, we all flipped to the "Hidden Picture" feature, which was an illustration filled with fish in trees and umbrellas in ... well, pretty much everything was hidden in trees.
We grew up (kind of), but the thrill of finding the fish in the trees never faded. Thank goodness for Dookie, Green Day's 1994 major label debut.
Jason Draper claims in A Brief History of Album Covers that "the title was a reference to the band suffering from diarrhea whenever they went out on tour (something they called 'liquid dookie')." Billie Joe Armstrong was a bit more straightforward about the title in an interview with Rolling Stone: "Obviously, it was a stoner thing. It really was. We were smoking a lot of weed. 'Hey, man, wouldn't it be funny if ...'"
It was all stoned fun and games until it came time to design the album cover. "We get it back, and it's dogs exploding s--- all over Berkeley. [Laughs] I don't know, man. It was one of those impulsive moments," Armstrong said. Not that the band was complaining. They'd hired Richie Bucher, another fixture on the Berkeley punk scene, to design the sleeve, and the artist hid countless fish in the trees, so to speak.
Bucher told Portland, Ore.'s Willamette Week:
All I had to work with was that it was Green Day and the album was called Dookie....I used to listen to the Kerplunk! album all the time, and the first two songs especially just sounded to me like a fighter plane swooping down. That was the way in for me, the anchor for building the rest of the drawing. They didn’t give me a lot of guidance, which was nice, and I just sketched out the basic design and brought it to them. Once they approved the sketch, I went back and fleshed it out with the crazy stuff in my head.
That "crazy stuff in [his] head" is what makes Dookie such a classic album cover, "a '90s punk-pop cross between a Robert Crumb illustration and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for a local music scene" as Draper calls it. The album's sleeve is covered with more than just dog doo. Bucher included Bay Area inside jokes, personal references and nuggets easily recognizable by music fans around the world.
Rather than ruin your Highlights fun, we're going to list some of the more fun things to look for on the cover of Dookie and let you have at it. Take your time: You have a good 10 minutes before the dentist is ready for you.
- AC/DC's Angus Young
- The creepy woman from the cover of Black Sabbath's debut album
- Big Star's Alex Chilton
- Patti Smith
- A reference to Black Panther leader Huey Newton
- The University of California Marching Band
- Murray Bowles, the local photographer who shot Green Day's early shows
- A reference to the Twisted Dog Sisters, a group of girls who hung out on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue
Here's a giant-sized photo. Bonus points for spotting the reference to the Ramones' Rocket to Russia. Happy hunting!