When I Come Around

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When I Come Around
Written by: Billie Joe Armstrong
Song length: 2:58
Album: Dookie (1994)
Single chronology
Previous single: "Welcome to Paradise"
Next single: "She"
Album chronology
Previous song: "Sassafras Roots"
Next song: "Coming Clean"

"When I Come Around" is the 10th track and fourth single from Green Day's debut album Dookie. It proved to be the band's most popular radio single in their early career; not only did it top the Modern Rock Tracks for seven weeks, but it also hit #2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay.

Song meaning[edit]

"When I Come Around" is about taking it slow in a relationship. The narrator feels they don't need to spend everyday together, he'll just "come around" when he feels like it. He has his doubts about the relationship and thus he doesn't want to go too fast and force things. He wants to take it step by step and only go further when it feels right ("You can't go forcing something if it's just not right"). His girlfriend wants to be more serious in their relationship, but he's still on the prowl for other sexual partners. But when he's done prowling, his thoughts always end up with his girlfriend ("No time to search the world around / 'Cause you know where I'll be found").

Another view on this song is about long-distance relationships. Billie Joe Armstrong met his would-be wife Adrienne while on tour, but she lived far away from him. Therefore it was very hard to maintain a proper relationship. But when he does come around, he'll make up for lost time. "Out on the prowl" could mean that he's touring all over the country, not being able to have a serious relationship while his girl wants exactly that. Life as a touring rock-star isn't easy for relationships on either end.

Music video[edit]

The music video shows the band walking to different places like the Mission District and a BART station in San Francisco and Berkeley, California at night along with various scenes of people doing common things all inter-related. One of the first scenes of the video eventually leads back to the scene at the end of the video. The band's touring guitarist Jason White can be seen in the video with his then-girlfriend. Mark Kohr directed this video.

Before the video was filmed, MTV used live performance of the song by the band at the 1994 Woodstock Festival.

MTV's Ultimate Albums: Dookie special credited the simple horizontally-striped sweater worn by Billie Joe in the video for starting a fashion trend of similar sweaters.

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1995 Modern Rock Tracks (US) No. 1
1995 Top 40 Mainstream (US) No. 2
1995 Billboard Hot 100 Airplay No. 10
1995 Official Sweden Singles Chart No. 28
1995 Official UK Singles Chart No. 27
1995 Official German Singles Chart No. 45

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Main article: When I Come Around/lyrics