“Basket Case” by Green Day

76. Song No. 808: “Basket Case,” Green Day
Dookie, 1994

There are a shockingly few media I recall being explicitly told I couldn’t consume as a kid: The Simpsons was verboten because Bart was allegedly a bad influence on our impressionable elementary-school minds; I naively grabbed some novel about teenagers indulging in risky behavior off my parents’ shelf and had it snatched out of my hands within pages of cracking it open. It had nothing to do with whether or not I had otherwise permissive parents (because I, in fact, did not) and everything to do with how protective and secretive I was about most of what I enjoyed.

Dookie, however, was one of those things that got me a stern talking-to, a lecture on what a whore is and a strict this-is-forbidden ruling. And it was all because one of my parents found the handwritten lyrics to “Basket Case” in my backpack. I didn’t really think much more of it until a couple years later when all the boys I had crushes on were Green Day fans and I felt woefully out of touch and even more terminally uncool for not sharing in that familiarity. I’ve always casually wondered how my musical taste would have been different had I known Green Day for more than their inescapable radio hits and had a deeper appreciation for the maturity they grew into over the decades.

A lifetime later, in the twilight years of The Spectrum and months before we got married, hubs and I went to a Green Day concert and had the time of our lives reclaiming two very different voids in youthful experiences we felt owed. It didn’t matter that “Basket Case” wound up being one of the few songs I knew all the words to, because it was the song everyone in the stadium knew and belted out together, right on down to the row of middle-schoolers and their just-as-gleeful parental chaperones sitting in front of us.

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