In a former article, I wrote a comprehensive list about the top five songs about drug use and addiction. In this piece, I’ll be focusing on specific drugs, and five songs, which I feel embody the subject of each drug. As one of my favorite comedians, Bill Hicks, once said, “If you don’t think drugs have done good things for us, then take all of your records, tapes and CDs and burn them” (Not included in this list are songs about marijuana, as I’ve written a separate article about that “drug”).
Note: In no way am I endorsing the use of drugs by making this list, but rather, I’m examining how certain songs can change or persuade certain attitudes towards heavy subjects like drug use. Feel free to comment with your own favorite drug-related songs.
Number Five: Ecstasy/MDMA. The drugs – ecstasy, MDMA and Molly – have become mainstream, thanks to hip-hop/pop artists singing about it. In Eminem’s “Drug Ballad,” which actually was released in 2000, contains lyrics like “however, I do show some respect to few / as ecstasy got me standing next to you / getting sentimental as f*** spillin’ guts to you / we just met, but I think I’m in love with you.”
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony created a song called “Ecstasy,” containing lyrics like, “I’ve been smoking weed for a very long time, why should I change? / an plus they say that ecstasy s*** f***s up ya brain.” Pulp created a song called “Sorted for E’s and Wizz,” which features lyrics like, “oh is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel / or just 20,000 people standing in a field / and I don’t quite understand just what this feeling is / …in the middle of the night, it feels alright / but then tomorrow morning / oh then you come down.”
Rihanna’s “Diamonds” features lyrics like, “Palms rise to the universe / as we moonshine and molly / feel the warmth, we’ll never die / we’re like diamonds in the sky.” Perhaps most famous for including the drug, molly, in her song, is Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” containing lyrics like, “we like to party / dancing with molly / doing whatever we want.”
Number Four: Amphetamines/Speed. Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life,” although a mainstream pop hit, is actually about the use of amphetamines if you examine the lyrics: “chop another line like a coda with a curse / …the sky it was gold, it was rose / I was taking sips of it through my nose / …doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break / …and then I bumped up / I took the hit that I was given / then I bumped again / …she’s got her jaws just locked now in a smile / but nothing is all right.” In the beautiful Elliot Smith song, “St. Ides Heaven,” he describes both drinking (the title) and using this drug: “High on amphetamines / the moon is a light bulb breaking.”
Sisters of Mercy created a song called “Amphetamine Logic,” which accurately and subtly describes the hell of a comedown from this drug. Mark Lanegan created a song called “Methamphetamine Blues,” which contains lyrics like, “my radio plays / methamphetamine blues / I’m rollin’ just to keep on rollin’ / keep your eyes wide open and my shotgun loaded / cause I don’t want to leave this heaven so soon.” The Afghan Whigs came out with a song called “Amphetamines and Coffee,” which they describe as, “it almost makes you gag.”
Number Three: Cocaine. Like heroin, cocaine is another drug, which many bands and musicians have sung about (Coincidentally, most of these songs come from the classic rock genre). “Casey Jones” by The Grateful Dead features lyrics like, “drivin’ that train / high on cocaine / Casey Jones you better / watch your speed.” The Reverend Horton Heat created a song called “Bales of Cocaine,” which describes “bales of cocaine / fallin’ from a low-flyin’ plane.”
“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” by the Rolling Stones contains lyrics like, “Y’all got cocaine eyes / yeah, you got speed-freak jive” (and the song was also featured in the movieBlow.) “Cocaine” by Jackson Browne features lyrics like, “Now I’m losing touch with reality / and I’m almost out of blow / it’s such a fine line / I hate to see it go / Cocaine, runnin’ all ‘round my brain.”
By far, my favorite song about this drug is Clapton’s “Cocaine,” which contains lyrics like “if you got bad news / you wanna kick them blues / cocaine.” (Songs that almost made the cut were Guns N’ Roses’ “My Michelle,” Bob Dylan’s “Cocaine Blues,” Black Sabbath’s “Snowblind,” Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell”).
Number Two: Psychedelics. While the subject of psychedelic drugs is known for being sung about by artists in the 1960s, modern indie and hip-hop acts have sung about it as well. “Lysergic Bliss” from Of Montreal can be considered a love song, but the title, as well as the lyrics, “so vertiginous lost in lysergic bliss,” suggest the song is about lysergic acid diethylamide.
“Shrooms” by Xzibit describes taking mushrooms, among other drugs, as seen in lyrics like, “one of the reasons why George Clinton sees the mothership.” Hip-hop artist Eminem, in his dark song, “My Fault,” sings “’Wait, first try this hallucinogen / It’s better than heroin, Henn, the booze or the gin.” In “Legend of a Mind” by the Moody Blues, the band sings about LSD supporter Timothy Leary; lyrics include, “Timothy Leary’s dead / No, no, no, no he’s outside looking in / he’ll fly his astral plane / takes you trips around the bay / brings you back the same day.”
Of course, this list of songs about psychedelics would not be complete without Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” With its Alice in Wonderland theme, the song reminds us to “remember what the dormouse said / feed your head.”
Number One: Heroin. By far more than any drug out there, heroin has been most sung about and referenced by musicians. In “Not an Addict” by K’s Choice, Sarah Bettens sings, “the deeper you stick it in your vein / the deeper the thoughts, there’s no more pain / I’m in heaven, I’m a god / I’m everywhere, I feel so hot.” In “Poolshark” by Sublime, Bradley Nowell sung, “now I’ve got the needle / and I can’t shake, but I can’t breathe / take it away but I want more and more / one day I’m gonna lose the war” (Nowell died at age 28 from a heroin overdose, which makes this song even more significant).
“The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young was written about musicians he was close to who were using heroin; lyrics include, “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done / a little part of it in everyone / but every junkie’s like a settin’ sun.” The underrated band Marcy Playground created a song called “Opium,” which pretty much describes the euphoria you get from taking the drug (the chemical form of opium is heroin).
By far, the most famous song about heroin (to my knowledge) is “Heroin” by The Velvet Underground; lyrics include, “Heroin, be the death of me / heroin, it’s my wife and it’s my life / because a mainline into my vein / leads to a center in my head / and then I’m better off than dead.”