Green Day’s 1997 album Nimrod exhibited a change in the band’s musical direction. Differing vastly from the angst and rough punk rock sounds delivered two years prior on Insomniac, Billie Joe, Mike and Tré decided to branch out from their origins and make an album where they weren’t confined to one type of sound. This new sense of freedom resulted in a total of thirty songs being recorded before they were whittled down to create one of Green Day’s most eclectic record to date.
“Hitchin’ a Ride” was the first single to be released from Nimrod. Whilst not explicitly showing the experimentation that was to come in the album, one could tell that there was something different about the band. It is much different from the first single used to promote the previous album. A mysterious violin opens the song, before its chugging four note riff takes over. Remaining relatively calm for the majority of the beginning, bar the instrumental break where the riff is played with more venom, things don’t get very rowdy until halfway through. The chorus finally arrives for the first time and all hell breaks loose shortly after Armstrong yells “SHIT” from the pit of his stomach.
“Hitchin’ a Ride” manages to symbolise the change in style Green Day were going through at the time whilst also giving off the vibe that this was the same Green Day who had released “Basket Case” a few years earlier. It was a wise decision to use it as the first song to represent their new material. People would at least be a bit more prepared for what was to come.