“Basket Case” by Green Day (1994)

I’m pretty sure that The Jacksons Live and MJ’s Dangerous were the first two CDs I ever bought. Even once I started working at Tower Records in the fall of 1993, I mainly stuck to cassettes (after all, they were usually a good $4-$5 cheaper than CDs and I was balling on a budget.) Green Day’s Dookie was one of those albums I could never find on tape, so I shelled out twelve bucks from my hard-earned paycheck (minus whatever my employee discount was) and took the California trio’s breakthrough album home on CD one day in summer 1994. It was definitely one of the first ten discs I paid for (although with about 9 months of record store employment at that point, I was taking home my weight in promos weekly.)

I’m trying to give a song a backstory when I don’t really have much to say except that it’s a perfect slice of pop-punk from the band that popularized that particular sub-genre. I didn’t grow up as part of any particular “scene”, so I had no sense of punk purity (and I still don’t…), but Green Day and The Offspring (who broke through almost simultaneously) were and are about as “punk” as I generally get.

Also, I’ve spoken about my initial exposure to MTV ownership in previous posts, but it’s worth mentioning that it started right when this video came out. MTV played the fuck out of Green Day during the fall of 1994. This, “Interstate Love Song” and the San Fran season of The Real World seemed to be all that aired for about 2 months.

P.S.-For some pro-queer awesomeness, it’s worth noting that in “Basket Case”’s second verse, the whore Billie Joe goes to is alternately a “he” and a “she”. Fairly subversive (eh, maybe not so much subversive as progressive?) for MTV mid ‘90s pop.

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