Five Songs that Are, Like, Totally About Drugs, Dude

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potsmokerDrugs are awesome. Well, some drugs are awesome. Some are scary. Rock stars, believe it or not, take a lot of drugs. Some of them stick to the awesome drugs and lead nice comfortable lives. Some stick to the scary drugs and die in bathtubs. Along the way, many artists choose to write about the experience of taking drugs, some more obliquely than others. I don’t really do subtlety, so here is a list of songs that are fairly obviously about drugs.

5. “Chinese Rocks” – The Heartbreakers

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This song was co-written by punk legends Richard Hell and Dee Dee Ramone for the Ramones to play, but Ramones guitar player Johnny refused to play it. Too druggy. You know, the band that was openly looking forward to sniffing glue didn’t want to be associated with drugs. Although I suppose glue is technically legal. In any event, Hell’s band The Heartbreakers ended up recording it. In retrospect, I kind of agree with Johnny. The Ramones were into comic book imagery and schlocky horror movies. “Chinese Rocks” kind of had a dangerous junkie edge that was a little too scary and grown-up for the Ramones (or at least the image they were trying to cultivate). It should be noted, however, that the Ramones did eventually record this song, though the lyrics “Hey, is Dee Dee home” were changed to something a little less incriminating for someone actually in the group.

4. “Sweet Leaf – Black Sabbath

Just in case the “Leaf” in question was not patently clear, this song opens with the sound of someone coughing up a lung. Throughout, Ozzy Osbourne personifies marijuana, addressing it as “you,” so maybe the coughing was to dispel any rumors that this song was about an actual person.

3. “Puffy Cloud” – Ween

I have referred to this song in the past as the “Best Anti-Marijuana Argument Ever Made” and I stand by that statement. Placed right at the very end of Ween’s showstopping 1990 debut, GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, “Puffy Cloud” tells the tale of two dudes (Dean and Gene) who just got way too high. The song perfectly captures the lifeless, puddle-esque feeling of the Sunday-afternoon stoner. I mean, I would assume.

2. “Journey to the Center of the Mind” – The Amboy Dukes

This one was a tough call. Technically, it could be talking about transcendental meditation, but I’m going to call “drugs.” The psychedelic imagery and talk of altered consciousness is just too blatant for sobriety to be possible. Plus, Ted Nugent is involved, although this may end up being the most rational thing he’s ever done.

1. “Heroin” – The Velvet Underground

This song was actually the reason Dee Dee Ramone wrote “Chinese Rocks.” That was his own version of Lou Reed’s epic ode to/against everyone’s favorite opiate. Mo Tucker’s tribal tom and bass perfectly emulates the heartbeat of the excited junkie, while Reed’s words wring complexity and pathos out of the subject. This isn’t necessarily a sunny-day road trip song, but sometimes days can be dark.

There are many other examples, including Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” and Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” that I didn’t feel like discussing this time around. What others do you guys like?

Photo credit: By ashton (Flickr: When in Amsterdam…) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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7 comments on “Five Songs that Are, Like, Totally About Drugs, Dude
  1. Hmm I would say off the top of my head “Sister Morphine,” “Beetlebum” by Blur, and some Layne Staley-era Alice in Chains stuff like “Hate to Feel,” “Sickman” and “Junkhead” off Dirt. I am guessing my list would be longer if it were favorite songs that sound like they were made by people on drugs rather than actually being about drugs

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