“Hitchin’ a Ride” is the forgotten single from Green Day‘s 1997 album, Nimrod. Though it was a pretty big hit at the time, it was absolutely dwarfed by their next single, “Good Riddance,” a song which never topped the charts but outsold all their other singles. Sort of rockabilly by way of alternative rock, rather than their usual pop punk, “Hitchin’ a Ride” is one of their heavier hits and stands out in their singles catalogue.
Last we saw Tennessee singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah, she was covering Joy Division, quite effectively I might add. Her version of “Hitchin’ a Ride” is much less stripped down than her “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but it’s even more distinct. If you listen to the lyrics behind the bouncing, rock bravado and Armstrong’s cocksure voice, you find a sad song about alcoholism.
She slows the pace down dramatically and the song only opens with acoustic guitar and some kind of digital percussion. Kiah keeps the vocal melody but, by slowing the song down, she allows herself the opportunity to wring some soul out of the lyrics. She’s accompanied by a faint soundscapes and some drums. There is an occasional effect on her voice. For the bridge, the soundscapes briefly take over, and the song enters something like the folk soul equivalent of psychedelia. It’s only leaving the bridge, in that chorus, that Kiah and the band attempt something remotely close to the sound of the original.
The change will likely shock some who only enjoy this as that really energetic Green Day hit from the late ’90s that’s fun to head-bang too. But the arrangement suits the lyrics and really draws your attention to them, and Kiah’s great voice.