Best Songs About Drug Addiction

By June 12, 2018Food for thought

Undeniably, every generation has an anthem, a song so sentimental, it can deliver us back to the first time we remember hearing it. We are able to recognize both the time and place – as well as the feelings the song invoked in us. Whether due to its profound meaning, controversial political or social implications or just simply the uncompromised raw talent contributing to its creation – the sound of a familiar song can transport us backward in time.

Similarly, when recounting experiences using drugs, the most memorable experiences are often the “first time,” or the “worst time.” For more experienced drug users, specific experiences usually run together, and it becomes difficult to remember each individually. One element of a drug aficionado’s experience, rarely forgotten – is, what song was playing in the background?

The music of the last four decades of the Twentieth Century set the new cultural standard and raised the bar for performers. Music had become marked with unfettered self-expression, curiosity, and masterful storytelling and continues to be today. Here are four of the most brilliant examples, one decade at a time.

White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane – 1967

“We are the people our parents warned us about,” roared Grace Slick, into the audience of Jefferson Airplane’s August 17, 1969, unforgettable Woodstock performance.

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call…
Call Alice
When she was just small

The song, an obvious metaphor for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which is a staple of almost every modern-day child’s youth. The lyrics, “feed your head,” take the story to a much deeper level by describing pleasures of LSD. There is no debate that the story of Alice, down the rabbit hole, conjures up feelings of a more carefree, innocent time in the world. Revisiting the story, with the help of mind-altering chemicals – is the direct route to “another great adventure,” and can momentarily transcend time and space, to us return to less turbulent and less troubled times.

Grace Slick’s melodic Summer of Love performance of White Rabbit, is the penultimate return to innocence.

Kid Charlemagne – Steely Dan, 1976

In a 2000 interview with the BBC, Steely Dan’s Walter Becker explained Kid Charlemagne, was inspired by a character named Augustus Stanley Owsley. The song describes the rise and fall of a well-known San Francisco-based LSD chemist and drug dealer in the 1970’s.

Owsley Stanley was to LSD, what Breaking Bad’s “Walter White” was to methamphetamine.

Get along Kid Charlemagne

Clean this mess up else we’ll all end up in jail
Those test tubes and the scale
Just get them all out of here

Is there gas in the car
Yes, there’s gas in the car

I think the people down the hall

Know who you are

Careful what you carry
Cause the man is wise
You are still an outlaw in their eyes

Steely Dan has carved a permanent place in history with Kid Charlemagne; for LSD, for Stanley and for rock and roll.

And She Was, Talking Heads – 1985

And She Was, artfully written by David Byrne and then performed by his band, Talking Heads on the 1985 album titled Little Creatures.

In his book Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads, Byrne talks about a woman from his past “a blissed-out hippie-chick in Baltimore,” who regularly took acid and would “lay down on the lawn of the Yoo-hoo chocolate soda factory.  This girl would truly fly above it all.”

The world was moving, and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was), and she was

And she was drifting through the backyard
And she was taking off her dress
And she was moving very slowly
Rising up above the earth
Moving into the universe
Drifting this way and that
Not touching the ground at all

Later in the book, Byrne refers to the woman again, this time when describing his own drug-induced out-of-body experiences and the adventures they shared. Presumably he, at least for a time, enjoyed both her and their mind-bending experiences, so much so, he was inclined to write the melodic as a tribute to both.

Morphine, Cure For Pain – 1993

It is hard to imagine a song better able to encapsulate the lure of a needle, more than Cure for Pain.  Unlike most of the over-produced, over-sized performances of arena-rock bands in the 1990’s Morphine perfectly pulls off one-of-a-kind minimalist rock and roll, fused with jazz and blues.  Cure for Pain, written from the deep, personal experience of front-man, Mark Sandman is an unflinching, unapologetic and exuberant ode to addiction.

Where is the ritual?
And tell me where, where is the taste?
Where is the sacrifice?
And tell me where, where is the faith?

Someday there’ll be a cure for pain
That’s the day I throw my drugs away
When they find a cure for pain

Where is the cave where the wise woman went?
And tell me where, where’s all that money that I spent?

I propose a toast
To my self-control
You see it crawlin’ helpless on the floor

Someday there’ll be a cure for pain
That’s the day I throw my drugs away
When they find a cure for pain
Find a cure for
Find a cure for pain

Over the last few decades, music has become a vital part of our lives. With songs being the bookmarks on time, memories, emotions, and experiences. These songs along with many others have gave many people trapped in addiction a reason to believe someone out there understands what they are going through. It isn’t until you open up that you realize so many others out there are feeling and relating to these songs.