Edition: August 03, 2011
Drugs have played an important role in Rock ‘n’ Roll. Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, among others, employs drug use as a major theme and provides a critique of the drug culture of the 1970s.
Many artists, especially in 20th century and since then, used various drugs and explored their influence on human life in general and particularly on the creative process. Some of them died young, some spend most of their life going back and forth for rehab, some survived and their music career got even bigger.
This playlist below shows the tight connection between drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Live and learn. And legalize—if you’re down with Willie Nelson.
…Here we sit
In the circle of death
The five pointed leaf
Drops the powder of life
03. Doctor Smoke – Asteroid
…The Big Smile in His Face,
That Never seems to fade,
Sometimes Makes Me Wonder,
What Lies There Under.
The Things Are Not The Way,
What They Appear To Be,
I’ve You’re Looking At Him Closer,
There’s Something Underneath.
Doctor Smoke, Doctor Smoke,
Life is but a joke to doctor smoke,
Doctor Smoke, Doctor Smoke,
Life is but a joke to doctor smoke…
04. She’s Got the Drugs – Nashville Pussy
Needs no further explanation. Just read the introduction of their bio in Wikipedia:
…Nashville Pussy is an American hard rock band from Atlanta, Georgia. Their musical style mixes boogie rock, Southern metal and psychobilly. Much of the band’s lyrical themes mostly revolve around sex, drugs, drinking, fighting, and rock ‘n’ roll. Initially called Hell’s Half-Acre, the band’s name comes from Ted Nugent’s introduction to “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” on the Double Live Gonzo album.
05. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue – Ramones
Consists of four lines of lyrics about youthful boredom and inhaling the glue contained in the solvent vapors.
06. Chinese Rocks – Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers
Dee Dee Ramone wrote this song, which is about scoring heroin: “Hey is Dee Dee home, do you wanna take a walk do you wanna go cop, you wanna go get some Chinese rocks.” He wanted his band The Ramones to record it, but they refused because it was about drugs. Dee Dee then brought the song to Richard Hell, who added some lyrics and recorded it with his band The Heartbreakers.
07. Looking for a Kiss – New York Dolls
This song is about heroin, which is indicated in lyrics of the last verse: “When everyone goes to your house, they shoot up in your room.” At the end of the song, you can hear, “I’m looking for a fix” being shouted instead of “Looking for a kiss.”
08. I’m Waiting for the Man – The Velvet Underground
The song is about purchasing 26 dollars worth of heroin in a Harlem brownstone near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 125th Street in New York City. The song is sung from the point of view of the purchaser who is presumably traveling to Harlem from another part of the city; the “man” in the song’s title is a drug dealer. Along with traditional guitar, bass, and drums, the song also features pounding, percussive rock-and-roll barrelhouse-style piano. It is one of the band’s more popular songs, and one of their many compositions featuring drugs as subject matter.
09. Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix
Considered as one of the archetypical psychedelic drug songs of the sixties.
10. A Passage to Bangkok – Rush
The song’s lyrics have been interpreted as relating to marijuana, as the song references places such as Colombia, Mexico, Jamaica, Morocco, Thailand, Afghanistan, “golden acapulco nights” (a possible reference to Acapulco gold), Nepal, and Lebanon.
11. Snowblind – Black Sabbath
This song is about addiction to cocaine. The “Snowflakes” are baked goods, “Snowblind” is the addiction, and when “My eyes are blind but I can see” it can either mean the trip, going cold turkey, or an overdose.
In the liner notes of the album, the band thanks “The COKE-cola Company,” a reference to the drug.
12. Lit Up – Buckcherry
The song is about abusing cocaine, with the lyrics and tempo describing the high felt from the drug.
13. Willie Nelson – Clutch
Nelson is a co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board. He has worked with NORML for years for marijuana legalization, in 2005, Nelson and his family hosted the first annual “Willie Nelson & NORML Benefit Golf Tournament,” which appeared on the cover of the January 2008 issue of High Times magazine with Nelson featured on the cover and an interview. In November 2010, Nelson formed a group called the TeaPot Party following his arrest for possession of marijuana in Sierra Blanca.
As Clutch sing …Willie Nelson only smokes the greenest green, Willie Nelson only smokes killer weed…
14. Golden Brown – The Stranglers
The fourth line of the song, “With my mind she runs,” is a common source of mondegreens. The band claimed that the song’s lyrics were akin to an aural Rorschach test and that people only heard in it what they wanted to hear, although this did not prevent persistent allegations that the lyrics alluded to heroin (although in an interview with Channel 4, drummer Jet Black quipped it was a song about Marmite).
15. Just Like Honey – The Jesus and Mary Chain
This song is about cocaine addiction. The album Psychocandy makes several references to cocaine, including the name of the album itself (“candy” being slang for cocaine). The line, “walking back to you is the hardest thing that I could do” implies addiction. Cocaine is described as “good, so good; it’s so good.” “I’ll be your plastic toy” represents enslavement to the drug.
16. Special K – Placebo
This is about a trip while using the drug Ketamine, better known as Special K. This song describes all of the feelings usually associated with using the drug.
17. It’s Working – MGMT
Lyrically, the song was inspired by the duo’s narcotic experiences in the UK.
VanWyngarden told Spin: “I didn’t realize it until now, but it’s kind of funny, because the first song on our first album was ‘Time to Pretend,’ which was about the imagined rock star scenario. So, ‘It’s Working’ is like, ‘Yeah, we went out there and we did a lot of drugs and it’s not that great.’ The song is mostly about Ecstasy.”
Spin asked VanWyngarden if there was any specific experience with Ecstasy that influenced the song? He replied: “No, not really. But that’s how we envisioned the track when we were writing it. It stops and starts a lot; it’s frantic, confusing. There’s also a surfing thread throughout the record. When you’re surfing, there’s a specific break you’re paddling to. And when the waves are really good you say, “It’s working.” The song kind of has a surf-y vibe. It’s like surfing on ecstasy. Which is what the ‘Time to Pretend’ video is like. Actually, the video is more like surfing on acid.”
18. Smoke Two Joints – Sublime
This is originally written by The Toyes, who performed it in traditional reggae style and released it in 1983. According to The Toyes, “one fine fall day on a small island” of Oahu in Hawaii, two of the band members, Jim and Sandy, were sitting under a large banyan tree on Kuhio Beach, “tokin’ on some sweet bud light & jammin’ on a rootsy reggae funky town” when they conceived the song “Smoke Two Joints.”
Sublime performed a cover version of “Smoke Two Joints” on their 1992 debut album 40oz. to Freedom. This cover includes samples taken from the film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a bong being used, and of the artists Eazy E and Just Ice. Bert Suzanka, the lead singer of The Ziggens, is also sampled saying, “Smoke cigarettes ’til the day she dies!”
19. Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll – Ian Dury and the Blockheads
The song is often misinterpreted as a song about excess as its title and chorus would suggest. Dury himself said he was trying to suggest that there was more to life than a 9-to-5 existence. The verses themselves are at times somewhat riddle-like, although always suggestive of an alternative lifestyle:
…Here’s a little bit of advice, you’re quite welcome, it is free
Don’t do nothing that is cut-price, you’ll know what they’ll make you be
They will try their tricky device, trap you with the ordinary
Get your teeth into a small slice, the cake of liberty
…Got one life
And it’s mine to live
Ain’t gonna make it
Workin’ nine to five
Just to stay alive
Got no fins
For to swim in the sea
Got no wings to fly
But I’m gettin’ high…
21. The Pot – Tool
This song is about the drug culture in America. Everybody does it… the difference is people like Maynard admit it while police and government officials do it then accuse everybody else of it and pretend like they don’t. He uses a lot of metaphors, such as “Pot calling the kettle black,” hence the song name “The Pot.” Maynard is the black kettle and the police/government are the pot.
22. The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown) – Judas Priest
Written by Peter Green and originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac. The song was written during Green’s final months with Fleetwood Mac, at a time when he was struggling with LSD and had withdrawn from other members of the band. “Faced with the band’s refusal to give away all monetary gains, Peter Green decided to leave Fleetwood Mac, but not before writing the haunting ‘Green Manalishi,’ which seems to document his struggle to stop his descent into madness.” While there are several rumours about the meaning of the title “Green Manalishi”, one referencing a mysterious LSD drug called “Green Manalishi” associated with the drug scene of the 1960s and 1970s, Green has always maintained that the song is about money, as represented by the devil.
The song later became a standard cover for heavy metal band Judas Priest. The song has become so identified with Judas Priest that many fans mistakenly assume it to be a Priest original.
23. Stoned and Drunk – Black Label Society
…Walked out of my mind,
don’t wanna find, whatevers left
Stoned and drunk completely gone,
my world is here to stay
Hide my fears and kill my doubts,
whatevers in my way
Poppin’ pills and drinkin’ booze,
Stoned and drunk completely gone,
my world is here to stay…
24. Chemical Equalizer – Blessing The Hogs
It’s about recreational drugs. Is it?
25. You Don’t Know How It Feels – Tom Petty
The song is sometimes mistakenly called “Roll Another Joint” on P2P search engines because of the aforementioned line.
…Let me run with you tonight
I’ll take you on a moonlight ride
There’s someone I used to see
But she don’t give a damn for me
But let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint
And turn the radio loud, I’m too alone to be proud
You don’t know how it feels
You don’t know how it feels to be me…
26. Ain’t it Fun – Dead Boys
Originally written by Peter Laughner and Gene O’Connor (known as Cheetah Chrome in Dead Boys) while with Rocket from the Tombs. It is about becoming disillusioned with hard drugs after they begin to take a toll on your life. Peter Laughner, who co-wrote this song, lost his battle with drug and alcohol abuse in June 1977 when he died of complications brought on by his abuse.
27. Would? – Alice In Chains
This song is about going through rehab and its aftermath. The last part of the lyrics wonders if the future is any more promising.
Guitarist Jerry Cantrell wrote this song for the late lead singer of Mother Love Bone, Andrew Wood, a very influential figure in the Seattle music scene. Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990.
28. Kokain – Rammstein
Needs no further explanation. As Till Lindemann (lead vocals) put it, during the interview with Kerrang, “We just push boundaries. We can’t help it if people don’t like those boundaries being pushed.”
29. Mr. Brownstone – Guns ‘N Roses
Slash relates that the song was written by him and Izzy Stradlin while they were at Izzy and his girlfriend Desi’s apartment. He states that they were sitting around, complaining about being heroin addicts, when they started improvising lyrics and music (“Brownstone” is a slang term for heroin). The lyrics make a clear reference to the tolerance that the drug causes in the verse that says:”I used to do a little, but a little wouldn’t do, so the little got more and more. I just keep trying to get a little better, said a little better than before”.
30. Feel Good Hit of the Summer – Queens of the Stone Age
The lyrics are a list of drugs: Nicotine, valium, vicodinmarijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol. Before they get to cocaine, they do utter the word “no.”
Note: The infos are compiled from various sources—mostly Wikipedia and Song Facts.
– Mar 09 | Exhibition: Acum (asst. Managing Editor of Trax mag, vocalist of Bangkutaman)
– Mar 16 | Exhibition: Che (vocalist of Cupumanik, founder of Jeune mag)
– Mar 23 | Exhibition: Santi YZ (manager of Koil, senior acct. executive Rolling Stone Indonesia)
– Mar 30 | Exhibition: Henry Foundation (voice & programmer of Goodnight Electric)
And more shows and exhibitions by oomleo, Ardy Chambers, Anto Arief, Kemir, Danie Satrio, etc.
See y’all again next Wednesday!
Boozed, Broozed, and Broken-boned,
*subject to change
The Block Rockin’ Beats
Curator: Rudolf Dethu
Every Wednesday, 8 – 10 PM
The Beat Radio Plus – Bali, 98.5 FM
120 minutes of cock-melting tunes.
Zero horse shit.
Rad-ass rebel without a pause.
Shut up and slamdance!
*This is a rerun edition, firstly played on March 02, 2011