Basket Case

Album: Dookie (1994)
Charted: 7 26
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song is about anxiety attacks and a feeling that you are going crazy. Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong suffered from various panic disorders while he was growing up - he would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a panic attack and walk around his neighborhood to settle down. "Basket Case" was a cathartic song and personal song for him. "The only way I knew how to deal with it was to write a song about it," he explained.

    This song stereotypes the whole condition of paranoia and compares it to being stoned.
  • By the time this came out, Green Day had already released two albums on an independent label. They had a small but ardent following that led to a bidding war for the band, which was won by Reprise Records. "Basket Case" was the third single from the album, following "Longview" and "Welcome To Paradise," and it was their breakout hit, getting airplay on Rock, Top 40, and Alternative radio stations.

    The singles from Dookie were not available for sale (an effort to spur sales of the album), but were released to radio, making them ineligible for the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Basket Case" peaked at #26 on the Airplay chart of October 8, 1994, which was around the time of peak frenzy during Green Day concerts. The song also got a nice push from MTV, which put the Mark Kohr directed video in hot rotation.
  • In their early years, the band was constantly on tour and eating some real bad food. This food didn't always digest well, and the album title is what they called the result when it didn't.
  • A basket case is slang for an emotionally unstable, dysfunctional or completely useless person. Originally, the word referred to an amputee, especially a soldier, who had lost all four limbs; it was coined during World War I. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Blasting right into the verse at the beginning of this song is something that set it apart. Simplicity was a hallmark of the Dookie album, and while omitting an intro made little marketing sense (DJs couldn't talk up the song), it got right into the meat of the track. Tre Cool of Green Day cites the first Beatles album, Please Please Me, as an influence on Dookie, since those early Beatles songs also got right to the point.
  • When Billie Joe Armstrong spoke with Rolling Stone in 2014, he explained that this song will always be a part of the band's setlist, but that its meaning has changed for him. "It's about other people now," he said. "When I look at people as we play that song, they're having their own moment. At that point, I'm the audience."
  • The band played a raucous version of this song when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
  • In 2017, Armstrong said of this song in Rolling Stone: "It's an anthem for weirdos. It's about losing your mind. Most people have had that experience."
  • Bastille covered this song for the 2017 reboot of the TV series The Tick on Amazon. Their version is more mellow, with brass instruments and strings.
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Comments: 85

  • Zero from The Abyss, NjOk, so I know all these "true" punks are always saying, "Green Day's not REAL punk, they're POP-Punk!" and, "They totally sold out with American Idiot!" or whatever, but think about this:

    Technically, The Ramones, the first official REAL Punk band, was a pop-punk band, too. Any true fan of The Ramones will tell you that the Ramones were huge fans of bubblegum music, surf music, classic 50's Rock n' Roll, and 60's girl groups like The Ronnettes. Most of their songs have infectious melodies in them, and they've even covered a bunch of 50's and early 60's rock and pop songs, Joey even did a duet with Ronnie Spector.

    The Clash had some infectious, poppy songs too.

    Green Day simply took the blueprint these bands laid down and modernized it for a new generation. I think the Ramones get more respect from elitists (rightfully so) because they had the cajones to invent and play this music before anyone else was doing it, and (wrongfully so) because Green Day got successful where the Ramones never did during their tenure as a band (The Ramones have been shooting for mainstream success since the very beginning but unfortunately that never happened.)

    As far as American Idiot, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, some hate it, but I think it's a great piece of work/art. I like simple music like punk and pop but I also like complex bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rush and the like that really make you think. Some critics and music mag publishers have compared Green Day's evolution from hard hitting rockers to epic, punk-opera composers to The Who's transition between My generation to suites like Tommy and Quadrophenia.

    Do you think that Green Day would've been inducted into the RnR hall of fame if they never released American Idiot (and to a lesser extent 21st century Breakdown)? Who knows they might have, but I don' think so. Dookie was influential and innovative at the time, but so was KoRn's first album, and I don't see them ever getting in the hall of fame for Rock and Roll.

    Anyway, I know that was kind of long, I'm sorry, I just wanted to make some points.
  • Oto from SlovakiaWhen I was fifteen and heard this song, it made my skin frozen.
  • Bekah from Birmingham, United KingdomThe 'I went to a whore, HE said my life's a bore. So quit my whining cos it's bringing HER down.' is purposeful. Billie Joe Armstrong was dealing with his bisexuality then. In an interview with Rolling Stones magazine he said, 'Dookie as an album touched on my bisexuality a lot..." This is just one of those instances.
  • Rosyy from New York, Cabut it still makes no sense because 'HE said my life is a bore, so quit my whining cus it's bringing HER down. It went back again.
  • Rosyy from New York, CaI was having trouble with that. Until now. I never would've thought about it being in 3rd person. And, no American Idiot was a great song too! Wtf?
  • Dona from Texas, CaI agree with the last comment that it might not be he as the next line is definitely bringing her down, but with his accent I think he sings who said my life's a bore, it just sounds like he.
  • Dee from Brighton, United KingdomI know it sounds like
    "I went to a whore, HE said my life's a bore"
    but as the next line is clearly
    "So quit my whining cause it's bringing her down"
    maybe the first line is
    "I went to a whore, she said my life's a bore"
  • Hayes from Newark, OhThis song is about Billie's panic attacks.

    oh and guys, "I went to a whore, HE said my life's a bore"

    Billie is Bi. Deal with it.
  • Stephanie from Mobile, AlThe University of Alabama's marching band, "The Million Dollar Band", plays an awesome version of this in the break between the third & fourth quarter of every football game. They've been doing so since the 1997 season. ROLL TIDE!!!
  • Bret from Newcomerstown, Oh"Basket Case" was written by Billie Joe about the panic attacks he suffered as a teenager.I also have panic attacks and the first couple lines
    Do you have the time to listen to me whine
    About NOTHING and EVERYTHING all at once
    explains them perfectly.Overall a completety good song with great lyrics and a good beat.

    GREEN DAY ROCKS !!!!!
  • Nick from Ukiah, CaI felt a need to register just to post about the mixed-up genders in the song. I had to laugh about the transsexual theories and the rest. It does not matter who the character in the song is or what point of view it is written from. Gay men are constantly exchanging "he" for "she" when referring to each other. It is a standing joke that probably goes back to limp-wristed mammoth hunters of the Pleistocene era. As in, "Look at HER we all know what SHE is into!", which I heard a gay friend exclaim when he saw a very flamboyantly dressed man walking down the street. I think some of you might need to get out more. You do not need to be gay to know just a little bit about a subculture that is all around us.
  • Jesus from Split, CroatiaThis song describes me, my life and everything important to me, so it has huge meaning to me.
  • Matt from Wichita, KsVincent: Not by myself I didn't, but someone named Rob Paravonian did. Apparently, he was a high-school cellist and grew to HATE the Canon in D because of the "dull and repetitive" cello part.

    Then he wrote a song about it. Go fig, huh?
  • Joanna from London, United KingdomThis song will always be special to me because its the 1st song that me and my best friends learnt in our band, we played it in public at a scouts summer fete a few summers ago it was fun,the bands kinda stopped now but whenever i hear this song it reminds me of our moment of fame! We changed some of the words seeing as there were children and old people there!
  • Amy from Caledonia, NyI dont know if any one has actually relized that GD HAS done a song that refers to The Catcher in the Rye. It is called "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?". It was on the Kerplunk cd, there last release on Lookout Records(1991?).
    As for he and she??? it has boggled my mind now for MANY years, since the release......no one will never really know for sure what he ment!....
  • Lachlan from Auckland, Neutral ZoneI love this song! It makes me feel normal!
  • Kevin from Austin, Texas, TxWhen he says "I went to a whore, she said my life's a bore, so quit my whining 'cause it's bring her down", that's he's joking that the prostitute was a transsexual. I dunno. Just throwing that out there.
  • Becca from Philly, PaI love this song. It explains so much.
  • Brian from Vancouver, Canadaoh god I just watched the video, this is so me its not even funny, I smoked 20 joints a day growing up in high school...Now Im whining about everything, and nothing!, I should really be getting a job
  • Matt from New York, NyAlong with "Let It Be," "With or Without You," "Hook," "Cryin'" and many others, this song melodic structure is based off of Pachelbel's Canon in D Minor.
  • Virginie from Montreal, CanadaBillie talked about this song , the video is on you tube!
    This song is about a melodramatic girl, nammed Becca (i think)he say's she's insane and sarcastic. Whe he writes songs , he often writes in the first person so it is not always about him.
    The interview is - Greenday hotel babylon

    Here's the link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVCDQF2_CKI

    it's at the end : 3:43

    by the way , he is hot on this vid , I find :) !!

  • Vincent from Henderson, NcHas anyone ever noticed that the bass line in this song is the same as Pachbels Canon in D?...Check it out...
  • Kate from New Brunswick, Njthe last 'fact' is wrong. after the American Civil War, veteran amputees were put to work making baskets because they were nearly useless. Opium was used to ease the pain and many became addicts. Many of these drug addicted amputees were called 'basket cases'.
  • Whitney from Alberta, Canadawhoop's a thought these appeared on the bottom of the page. i was talking to the person that is the last on the page.
  • Whitney from Alberta, Canadano, this song is about Billie's panic attacks.
  • Joel from Columbia, ScSteven (of Ohio) Thank you for agreeing.
  • Sherine from Guwahati, Indiai hope greenday's gonna use guitar solos in their songs in future instead of filling them with only great barrier chords.
  • Sherine from Guwahati, Indiai hope green day's gonna use guitar solos in their songs in future instead of filling their songs with only great barrier cords in future.
  • Adam from Sydney, AustraliaGreen day are about as PUNK as Barry Manilow. Not saying they're a bad band, but we're talking more pop/rock here, and Basket Case is a wonderful example.
  • Tara from Somewhere, Fli can definatly relate to this song since I have anxeity and i'm paranoious skitsophranic.
  • Joe from Bellingham, WaI'm so F*ckin hating green day! My neighbor told me to listen to this song on his i pod twlling me its the best greatest song in the world. It's not good, at all. I told him to listen to some Ramones, and he told me it was garbage and that green day had nothing to do with it. Iwonder if everyone here is like my nighbor...
  • Summer from Nashville, TnI really like this song as well as all other Green Day songs. Anyway, I also wanted to say that I think this whole deal about Green Day's music being worse than it used to be is so stupid. I mean, say what you wanna say, but after a while it just makes you look really stupid. Besides, these arguments are pointless..you'll think what you wanna think. So people just need to get over it. Sheesh..in my opinion, I think some people think that they are all big & bad when they put people down.
  • Tomislav from Zagreb, Croatiabillie said in an interview that its about a girl
  • Steven from West Carrollton, OhJoel of S.C., I, as a MAJOR Green Day fan-and I think you're right. It's about Billie Joe.
  • Joel from Columbia, ScGreen Day is one of My current favorite bands. The fact that the video is set in a mental hospital says a lot. I think the song is about someone (maybe Billie Joe) having a nervous breakdown. That's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
  • Joel from Columbia, ScBasket case is my favorite song. I suffer from severe panic attacks and can relate.
    Joel
  • Shana from Gastonia, NcLook Green Day is a great band. Yes in Billie Joe in younger years he was paranoid. But you have to remember all the great songs he and his band has provided for us over the years. Most of his songs are not I third peoson. But with this song I can see it both ways.
    Shana, Ironstation, NC
  • Smash from Dracut, Maabout the catcher in the rye....i definately agree, after i've read the book (which i absolutely love) and there is definately alot of simmilarities....coincidence?
    - "Do you have the time
    To listen to me whine
    About nothing and everything"- Holden has a problem with EVERYTHING, he calls everything a "phony" and complains practically non-stop, and yeah he basically whines about nothing and everything.

    - "I went to a shrink
    To analyze my dreams"- the catcher in the rye is a frame story which begins and ends in a mental hospital where holden is recovering from a mental breakdown of sorts, he is telling his story to psychyatrist(spelling?)So, yeah holden also went to a shrink.
    -"I went to a whore
    He said my life's a bore"- and of course, how can we forget Holden's experience with the whore sunnny whom he never has sex with, but rather talks to her and makes up a fake story about his recent "chlavicord surgery".... chlavicord surgery...that's kinda boring, right?

    dont get me wrong its possible that billie joe and holden caufield may just have had simmmilar experiences with mental breakdowns but im convinced that this song could be loosely based on the catcher in the rye.....
  • Micky from Berkeley, CaThis song, i think, is about him being boxed in!I am totally in love with green day. i have seen 11 of there performances. they grew up in my hom town. i have done as much research on them as any one could possibly do!
  • Sarah from Sandiego, Cai love this song its like one of my FAVORITE songs.
  • Tanya from London, United StatesI've just listened to avril's and freefallers covers of this song again and I've just realised they both change the lyrics to 'she said my life's a bore' Thats really annoyed me. If your gona do a cover, do it properly. And preferrably in tune too if Avril could manage that in future
  • Mike from Los Angeles, Cathe whole "i went to a whore he said my lifes a bore" line, well i think its possible but im not sure that maybe the whore means a pimp and the pimp told him to stop whining cause its bringing "her" down cause it might refer to his gf. I dunno, im just throwing that out but i dont think it has anything to do with his sexual orientation. I really dont think BJ is bisexual but if he says he is than i guess he is. But i dont think sexual orientation is really a physical fact, i think its more of how someone sees themself.
  • Mike from Los Angeles, CaI dont think theres another song I can relate to better than this one.
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruTuned half a step lower. Awesome song.
  • Layla from Omaha, NeActually, In 1995 Billie Joe stated that he is bisexual. I am okay with that because I love him AND his music. He said that he thinks everyone was born bisexual, but the kind of society we grow up in tells us what gender we like.
  • Mary from Swisher, Iathe line 'some say quit or i'll go blind' is referring to him masturbating. honestly. people actually used to think you could go blind from masturbating, but Billie Joe knew differently. hence the lyrics 'but it's just a myth'. and hey dumbass (ashlee) billie joe is bi and he has no problem with it, do you? if you do i'll show you where to shove that avril lavigne song!
  • Ashlee from Vlijmen, Negreen day is the best band in the world and the make the best music ever.avril did make a cover butt i think its good and a like avril lavigne!!!!!so dont be hard on her!! and billie is not gay or bi,
    and the new album is just great,jesus of seburbia is totally my song,i love them and a always be GREEN DAY 4-EVER
  • Sophie from Yorkshire, Englandavril lavigne and freefaller have ruined this song. their covers of this brillaint Green Day song made me cry
  • Alex from Newcastle Under Lyme, EnglandThis song has got to be one of the best songs green day have done simply awsome!!!!
  • Samantha from Johannesburg, South AfricaGreen Day rocks! I love their new songs AND their old ones! I don't think they've changed at all!! And this song is the best anyway!!
  • Alexander from Newburgh, NyGreenday WERE alrght.Now they have turned into posers with American Idiot.This was one of their better songs.Now they are tryng to be something theyre not, punk rock
  • Tanya from London, Englandchristine, billie joe must have known what his panic attacks were as mike dirnt has always had them because of his heart problem. and seeing as mike lived at billie joes for a while and then lived in the dumps together, and went to the same school, im guessin he saw mike have an attack, and wouldve realised thats what he was havin too. and hes said in interviews that basket case is about his n mikes attacks. that becca crap is probs aload of rubbish btw
  • Jade from LondonSelf explanitory, this song is about someone who is pananiod. Billie Joe suffers from panic disorder too, so that has some contribution to the song. "The only way I knew how to deal with it was to write a song about it." - Billie Joe
  • Christine from Worcester, Maokay people. Billie isn't confused; he's bi. Get over it. So the "he said my life's a bore" isn't a mistake, he could just be thiking of a male whore. And shirnks can be girls, none of this is unreasonable. Billie wrote this BEFROE he realized he had anxeity issues, so he simply thought he was going crazy, not realizing his panic attacks could be treated.
  • Sum Sum from New Delhi, Indialoved the song..didnt actually get what he meant when he sang" i went to a whore, he said my life's a bore"..did he mean a gay? sure gays can be a whore too...so am I. ha ha ha! try listen to another track by them "Macy's day parade" its simply mindblowing....
  • Blake from Cincinnati, OhThis song is about paranioa and anxiety panic attacks.:.:.
  • Elysia from Hamilton, New ZealandMy favourite music happens to be alot older eg. Zeppelin, Floyd, Frampton, Skynard, Allmon Brothers, etc... I happen to have a broad taste in music and yeah I think Greenday's older stuff is rock and it is good and Avril is ridiculous for trying to cover it. It's annoying enough hearing idiots like Salt n Pepper covering a classic like 'Another Brick in the wall' with their lowlife sex lyrics let alone this, that's my point okay? But yeah Greenday are nothing compared to the classic REAL ROCK that I truly love. I know the newer stuff won't touch their first album but believe me, I hear you.
    I'm not really into punk rock but this band is a sound of their own...oh yeah by the way: "young kids", just how old do you think I am?
  • Zac from Charlotte, Nchow old do you think Greenday is? They aren't a classic rock band they are a MODERN DAY POP BAND...They soldout and make songs like Blvd. Of Broken Dreams, thats pop music if i've ever heard it...when a band gets this popular they become a pop band and sell out there roots it happens to the best of em and its happened to Greenday
  • Zac from Charlotte, NcI feel the same way about Greenday and any Ramones song they try to cover...Greenday is in a totally different ball park than any classic punk rock band it isn't funny and yet you young kids hail them as the elder statesmen of punk...Perhaps you should look into bands from earlier decades and then you'll see how mediocre (at best) Greenday really is
  • Zac from Charlotte, NcThis song is good in moderation I couldn't stand to here it more than once in a row though
  • Dave from London, EnglandDo you have the time, to listen to me whine....Ooops, Sorry, got a little carried away.

    Another Brilliant song by Green Day.
  • Elysia from Hamilton, New ZealandYes Claire from Oak Ridge I'm afraid that little Avril twit did cover this song. Not only is it a disgrace for her to consider herself worthy of singing this song, but doing a song that is not even ten years old yet is a true sign of desperation!! (Well just over ten years, but still too young for it.) I hate when talentless pop princesses think they can cover rock songs, they should just leave it to the true musicians. This is one of my favourite Greenday songs, first tape I ever owned...I bet old Avril didn't even know who they were.
  • Kris from Rochester, Nythis site is pretty cool. if any one needs advice i am an advice columnist....email me at wolflover258@aol.com i dont have to know your name it can be anonymous. like your friend "angry raver" or something you know? Green day lyrics help me ease my stress. i have plenty of advice for you and helped people world wide. feel free to email me i am here for you love your green day fan, Kris
  • Kris from Rochester, NyGreen day is so awesome i love listening to the music because i feel so alone sometimes but then i listen to their music and i think wow people really feel how i do some times. i am not all alone and i know they feel the same way as me because the lyrics explain it all. too people who dont like them they just have bad taste or dont really listen to the words. Billie Joe may be bi but i really dont care he is hot. He is married with two children. and people shouldn't be judged upon their sexuality it is a sensitive issue i mean heck i'm straight and wouldn't be any thing else but i think judging people is stupid. well Green Day absolutely rocks so rock on fellow skater punks.
  • Aaron Hetherington from Bradford, Englandmike dirnt also has panic attacks , why aint that in!

    Green Day revived PUNK with songs like this....Plus , to me , they saved music all together..have you seen all the bands that thanks them on CD's etc , foo fighetrs , MCR , without Green Day , there wouldnt be alot of the great bands around now
  • Emily from Liverpool, Englandlike i've said he was already married to adrienne when he done the interview for the advocate and who cares what is, he is talanted and gorgeous and that's all that matters
  • Kevin from Calgary, Canadathis song like all others on the dookie album are about what a bitch the world is to the youth. This song and album really catagorize the "punk" era
  • Claire from Oak Ridge, TnDid Avril Lavigne do a really bad cover of this, or is my sister lying to me?
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaFave Green Day song. MILES better than anything on American Idiot.
  • Aaron Hackett from Washington, NjLisa i agree with you. But there are a few exceptions(that I know of): Extrodinary girl, Maria, J.A.R., She's a rebel(sort of), last ride in(No Lyrics=suckiest song ever(exept in jazz)), and redundant could be better
    P.S. Was that your first post, because it automatticaly gives your name, and state.And Derrick, you don't like American Idiot(tm) because its first song (read the title) makes fun of you
  • Danny from Melbourne, AustraliaOne of my all time favorite songs this and long view
  • Rich from Coventry, United Statesi think its a really clever line that makes you think about the song long after you have finished lstening to it, and by the looks of the discussion it worked a treat.
  • Nadia from Sydney, AustraliaPft...what kind of green day fans are you guys? Lol, but seriously....Basket Case is about having panic attacks and anxiety which is something Billie Joe suffers from. Billie Joe is also a bisexual. Thats it. No questions or theories, hes a bisexual, he said it in an interview. No stress, ok? The whore is a transvestite, which is why the lyrics say 'I went to a whore, HE said my life's a bore, so quit my whinin' cause its bringing HER down'. Its not about a chick named becca, for God's sake.
  • Mary from Philadelphia, PaWho cares if billie joe's straight or gay or bi? He's still like, my number one favorite person of all time, and for more reasons than "he's cute" okay? So I don't care which one he is. It doesn't really change what a totally awesome person he is.
  • Rob from Castaic, Camaybe he just had the "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" line just to confuse people and make them have debates on songfacts?
  • Derrick from Cross Junction, VaWHAT! This song is not about homosexuality AT ALL!!!! The reason he says "I went to a whore HE said my lifes a bore" is because he mixes the whore with his shrink replacing HE with SHE. Normaly it would be "I went to a shrink to analyze my dreams HE says it's lack of sex that's bringing me down, I went to a whore SHE said my life's a bore and quit my whining cause it's bringing her down. The song is about anxiety and anxiety has Billie so confused, that he mixes his sentences in the last verse. HA! Billie did have a sorta bisexual side but that topic is cleared up in the song "Coming Clean" (Also from Dookie). Oh yeah...Green Day Sucks now. I'm really disapointed in "American Idiot"
  • Zach from Phoenix, AzI love green day but this song shows Billie Joe's homosexual side. He says "i went to a whore he says my lifes a bore" if you don't believe me buy the dookie album and read the lyrics
  • Lisa from Huntington Beach, CaGreen Day is awesome!!!!!!!! All of their songs are so cool! I love this song. They just are so awesome

    -Lisa, huntington beach, california
  • Melita from Wilts, England'Do you have the time to listen to me whine...'
    Got to be in top 20 of funny lines.
  • Joey from Bs As, ArgentinaWhen the ramones released the pshycho therapy video mtv didn't acceptedd it, then green day released the basket case's video. joey felt angry about it, it was very simillar, then billie joe apoligized with joey, billie said that he was a great fan of ramones. then joey accepted the apologized. sorry if you don't understand my english

    AgUaNtE ARGENTINA. 2minutos. Ramones.Flema,Die Toten Hosen y tu mama!!! Argenina es puro punk rooock
  • Lee from Leeds, Englandi have noticed a sense of humour under the deep lyrics in this song.isnt it a take off of the movie about the mental home?I just dont know why Mike and Tre had their names changed.If anyone knows the reason why please post it to me.
  • Gabe from Utica, NyThis song is really good. I love the guitar. Really I just think that all Green Day guitar is amazing. I like this song a lot.
  • Yu from Demarest, PaI 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

    i used to get confused why the sex of the roles in this song were switched. but maybe Bob is right. This song could be from a girl's point of view. By the way, a really depressing song, if you could get over the catchy chords and rhythms.
  • Johnny from New Something, United StatesThis song is a direct reference to A Catcher in The Rye, by J.D. Salinger. Its lyrics portray the mind of Holden Caulfield. The giveaway is "I went to a whore. she said my life's a bore"
  • Bob from Shields, EnglandI saw an interview where Billie Joe was asked about this song. A lot of songs he writes are in the third person and never actually about him. This particular song is about a girl called Becca who he says was "kinda insane" and paranoid about things
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