Basket Case

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"The only way I could know what the hell was going on was to write a song about it."
Billie Joe Armstrong
Basket Case
Written by: Billie Joe Armstrong
Song length: 3:01
Album: Dookie
Mixed by: Jerry Finn
Produced by: Rob Cavallo
Single chronology
Previous single: "Welcome to Paradise"
Next single: "When I Come Around"
Album chronology
Previous song: "Pulling Teeth"
Next song: "She"

"Basket Case" is the 7th track of Dookie and the 5th track of International Superhits!. It was later released as a single, the third one from Dookie.


"Basket Case" had a single that was released in January 1995, and the song became a massive hit. The song was written by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong about his struggle with anxiety; before he was diagnosed with a panic disorder, he thought he was going crazy. The music video, featuring the band members in a mental institution, received heavy airplay on MTV. This song and its music video helped propel Dookie to become a major success among most mainstream rock listeners. Dookie went on to become a multi-platinum album featuring this song as well as hit singles "Longview", "When I Come Around", "Welcome to Paradise" and "She".

In 1995, Green Day was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Basket Case".

In 2006, on Mike Davies and Zane Lowe's Lock Up Special on BBC Radio 1, the listeners voted "Basket Case" the Greatest Punk Song of All Time. This result was controversial, as many people don't consider Green Day to be a punk band.

This song can also be found on their 2001 greatest hits compilation International Superhits!. The music video can be found on their International Supervideos! DVD. A live version is also found on Bullet in a Bible, a live album of Green Day performing at the Milton Keynes National Bowl in 2005.

Music video[edit]

The video is set inside a very weird mental home, where the band preform the song. The video was apparently shot in black and white, and color was added in later.

Song meaning[edit]

Basket Case is about the narrator's anxiety and panic disorder. Before he was diagnosed he felt like he was losing his mind (Sometimes I give myself the creeps/Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me).

The narrator was in the same time period struggling with his sexual preference, being bisexual, which only made his anxiety worse (I went to a whore, he said my life's a bore). His existing relationship with a girl was also suffering from his condition ([...] so quit my whining cause it's bringing her down). In the end he realizes that nothing can be done about it and he just has to live with it (Grasping to control/So I better hold on). Dealing with mental health issues can be very challenging, the narrator feels overwhelmed (Do you have the time/to listen to me whine/about nothing and everything/all at once), has self-doubt and suffers from confusion.

There's also a subtle reference to the narrator's bisexuality (I went to a whore / He said my life's a bore) which, even today, isn't easy to talk about.


Main article: Basket Case/lyrics