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Background

Basket Case is a song by Green Day from their 1994 hit album Dookie. After the single was released in January 1995, the song ended up being a huge 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. The song is also found on their 2018 compilation album, God's Favorite Band. 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.

Lyrics

Do you have the time to listen to me whine

About nothing and everything all at once?

I am one of those

Melodramatic fools

Neurotic to the bone

No doubt about it


Sometimes I give myself the creeps

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me

It all keeps adding up

I think I'm cracking up

Am I just paranoid

Or am I just stoned?


I went to a shrink

To analyze my dreams

She says it's lack of sex that's bringing me down

I went to a whore

He said my life's a bore

So quit my whining 'cause it's bringing her down


Sometimes I give myself the creeps

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me

It all keeps adding up

I think I'm cracking up

Am I just paranoid?

Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah


Grasping to control

So I better hold on


Sometimes I give myself the creeps

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me

It all keeps adding up

I think I'm cracking up

Am I just paranoid?

Or am I just stoned?

Song Meaning

This song is a vivid description of emotional instability. Its common knowledge that Armstrong was suffering from anxiety and panic disorders at the time when he wrote this song: "The only way I knew how to deal with it was to write a song about it". Everything in this song reflects mental unsteadiness: being overwhelmed ("Do you have the time to listen to me whine, about nothing and everything - all at once"), self-doubt and confusion ("Am I just paranoid? Am I just stoned?"), self-contradiction and inconsistency ("I went to a whore, he said my life's a bore, and quit my whining 'cause it's bringing her down'"). Behind the joke-like lyrics and the slightly comic mental institution video, lies an implication of great emotional pressure that damaged mental health is causing.

The song is also describing the relationship problems that emotional instability is initiating ("Do you have the time to listen to me whine..?") - mental disorders tend to be very consuming and your loved ones have to face tolerating your obsessiveness and your issues. That doesn't always work perfectly well.

Also, the line "I went to a whore, he said my life's a bore, and quit my whining 'cause it's bringing her down'" could be a description of problems with the choice of sexual preference - problems that cause more anxiety, hesitation and lack of confidence.

Video

The "Basket Case" video was directed by Mark Kohr. The video was filmed in an actual mental institution called Agnews Developmental Center in Santa Clara County, California, at the request of the band members. The mental institution had been abandoned, but most of the structure remained in a broken-down state.   The video was shot in black and white, with color added in later.

Green_Day_-_Basket_Case_(Video_Version)

Green Day - Basket Case (Video Version)

Basket Case music video

Tabs (Chords and Lyrics)

[Verse 1]
 
   G               D         Em          Bm
Do you have the time to listen to me whine
  C                  G               D
About nothing and everything all at once
G             D
I am one of those
   Em          Bm
Melodramatic fools
   C             G
Neurotic to the bone
                D
No doubt about it
[Chorus 1]
 
    C         D                G
Sometimes I give myself the creeps
   C         D                    G
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
     C               D
It all keeps adding up
    G         F      Em
I think I'm cracking up
   C           D
Am I just paranoid? 
   (No chords)
 I'm just stoned
 G    D     C     D
(No lyrics)
 G    D     C     D
(No lyrics)
[Verse 2]
 
    G         D
 I went to a shrink
    Em        Bm
To analyze my dreams
     C                 G                    D
She says it's lack of sex that's bringing me- down
    G         D
 I went to a whore
     Em               Bm
He said my life's a bore
     C                G                    D
And quit my whining cause it's bringing her- down
[Chorus 3]

    C         D                G
Sometimes I give myself the creeps
    C         D                    G
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
    C               D
It all keeps adding up
    G         F      E(m)
I think I'm cracking up
   C           D
Am I just paranoid?
     (No chords)
 Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah 
[Bridge]

 G    D     C     D
(No lyrics)
 G    D     C     D - Woah, woah!
(No lyrics)          
 G    D     C     D
(No lyrics)
 G    D     C     D
(No lyrics)
C              D
Grasping to control
                  G      D
So you better hold- on-
  
 Em   Bm   C   G   D
 (No lyrics)
 G   D   Em   Bm   C   G   D
 (No lyrics)
[Chorus 4]
 
    C         D                G
Sometimes I give myself the creeps
    C         D                    G
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
    C               D
It all keeps adding up
    G         F      Em
I think I'm cracking up
   C           D
Am I just paranoid?
    (No chords)
 Am I just stoned?
[Outro] - No lyrics
  
 X4 Times
 Bm  C   Bm  C
 C   G   D
C   G   D - Ring out chords
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