The 10 best songs about drugs
In the second of a three-part series, these are the ten best songs about getting fucked up
In part two of our three part feature on sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll we delve into the murky world of all things drug-related. It goes without saying that this a contentious subject and that we are in no way advocating the use of any of these substances. Drugs are bad, m'kay. That said, it is also the easiest of the three subjects to find songs about, and, like it or not, some of the greatest music ever made was written by who may have indulged in something rather stronger than Earl Grey.
Queens Of The Stone Age – Feel Good Hit Of The Summer
While many artists allude to drug use in some roundabout fashion, often denying all knowledge after the fact, there is no disguising the intent of the opening track from Queens Of The Stone Age's classic album, Rated R. Upon seeing the lyrics – “Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol” with a chorus of “cocaine” – Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford (who provided backing vocals) was noted to have said, “Ah, a rock 'n' roll cocktail. I know that one!”
Black Sabbath – Snowblind
If not for the whispered “cocaine” at the end of the first verse then it might appear to the casual listener that Snowblind, from Sabbath's Vol 4 album, paints a picturesque tale of winter at it's most beautiful. In fact, it was nothing of the sort: the band were completely obliterated on drugs, spending half the budget for the record on coke, which, according to guitarist Tony Iommi, they'd have delivered to the studio in speaker boxes. Pure as the driven snow, indeed.
Hawkwind – Motorhead
Come on, you didn't seriously think we'd do a feature on drug induced rock 'n' roll without including some Hawkwind, did you? Ironically, however, this classic – written by Lemmy at four o'clock in the morning, on the balcony of LA's Hyatt hotel – is all about speed, and when Lemmy got busted for possession of the substance by Canadian customs, he was promptly kicked out of the band for “doing the wrong drugs”. “Being fired from Hawkwind for drugs,” he said later, “is a bit like being thrown off the Empire State Building for liking heights!”
The Dwarves – Free Cocaine
Never backwards in coming forwards, punk rock mentalists The Dwarves make it known in no uncertain terms that they would quite like to partake in some Colombian marching power, and they'd be a lot happier if you paid for it. “The best things in life are free/And if they're free why don't you give them to me?” insists frontman Blag Dahlia. Whatever happened to “please” and “thank you”?
Zeke – Let's Get Drugs
“Hey, he's acting weird, it must be drugs,” begins this blisteringly fast ode to amphetamines from Seattle lunatics Zeke. Or at least that's what we're guessing the song's about, but most of the lyrics are completely indecipherable with the exception of the title and the words “let's get high”. Given that it clocks in at just 52 seconds long there was obviously some urgency in the matter. A more fitting title might be Let's Get More Drugs.
King Prawn – Smoke Some Shit
London punk/ska 'bois' King Prawn big up the biftah and sing salutations to skunk in this 420 friendly anthem from their massively underrated 2003 album Got The Thirst. Of course, there remains some considerable debate about whether marijuana use should be a criminal offence, to which the Prawn quite rightly respond: “Realise, illegal or legit/The whole world's still gonna take a hit.” Puff, puff, pass, bois.
Clutch – Spacegrass
Speaking of wacky tobaccy, it would be an act of almost criminal negligence not to include a little stoner rock in our countdown, and while Clutch have long surpassed the 'stoner' tag there can be no question that Spacegrass is the king of them all. Black Sabbath's leaf may be sweet, but it doesn't come any better than watching the universe expand in a Galaxy 500 with Jesus on the dashboard. Perfect.
Ramones – Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
The much missed 'brudders' Ramone may not want to walk around with you or go down to the basement, but they do seem rather keen on solvent abuse, glue being the drug of choice for penniless punk rockers back in the day. With Evo-Stik being considerably cheaper than cocaine or even speed, it was a no-brainer, which, incidentally, is what you'd have if you tried it. “I hope no one really thinks we sniff glue,” remarked bassist Dee Dee Ramone. “I stopped when I was eight.”
Alice In Chains – Sickman
In case it were ever needed, this is stark reminder of the damage done when drug use spirals out of control. We may have made light of the subject, but Sickman (and several other songs from the Dirt album from whence it came) shows the grim reality of drug addiction, particularly heroin. “What's the difference, I'll die/In the sick world of mine,” sings vocalist Layne Staley, his lyrics proving horribly prophetic. At the time of his death, in 2002, he was reported to have weighed just 86 pounds.
The Wildhearts – Sick Of Drugs
This seems like a fitting end to our brief foray into all things illicit. While there have been many great songs written on or about drugs, the fact is that they often come at a heavy price (and not just financially), the Wildhearts being a prime example – former bassist Danny McCormack in particular struggling with heroin addiction. If memory serves, he also spent a month in a psychiatric hospital after an acid trip went badly wrong. Be careful out there, kids.