Firewater and Such

Eric Clapton, Cocaine, single coverIf I were more punk, I’d say I’m pretty straight edge.

But I’m nowhere near punk enough to get away with using that term anywhere real punks could hear it. So let’s just say I don’t drink and I don’t smoke stuff.

That’s just how it’s always been.

I’m the one who remembers what goes on at parties. Everything that goes on.

If I didn’t have this moral compass of mine, I’m sure I’d be rolling in the dough… and probably have many fewer friends… and not getting invited to the interesting parties.

Point being, this is another case of me appreciating songs and whatnot about stuff I don’t partake of.

A song about drugs or alcohol

If you’ve heard any music ever, you know that there are no shortage of songs about drugs and alcohol. Throw relationships in there and you cover pretty much every song, ever… and some of them three times over.

We all know that the rock and roll lifestyle is defined by excess. Today not as much as, say, the 70s and 80s. I’m not sure most newer rock bands could really keep up with the likes of the Rolling Stones in their prime. But there’s still a reputation for being able to party hard.

And where would country music or the blues be without a good number of people being drunk at some point? Or, at least, hanging out at the bar, grabbing a beer.

That lifestyle inevitably spills over into the songs in one way or another. If not in the lyrics themselves, then in the stories behind some of the songs. (Like the story behind that Iron Butterfly song that everyone knows.)

When this prompt came up, there’s one song I thought of right away. It’s got great guitar work and it’s another song that tells a great little story. It’s Eric Clapton’s Cocaine.

One of the interesting things about this song, of course, is that it can be ambiguous about whether it’s for or against cocaine. Clapton maintains that it’s an anti-drug song. But it’s not really “his” song, even though he’s the one best known for it. It was written by J.J. Cale.

Regardless of meaning, it’s a great song and definitely fits the “about drugs” bill. I mean, it is right there in the title and all.

Runners Up

  • The Pogues, Whiskey You’re the Devil – Really, you can go with any cover of this classic. And pretty much any other classic drinking song.
  • Marilyn Manson, I don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me) – Definitely one of the more disturbing videos (all those big eyes!), but that’s to be expected from Manson, especially in a song about drugs.
  • U2, Bad – This is one of those where if the lyrics aren’t enough to let you in on the fact it’s about drugs, the backstory makes it pretty darn clear. Pain and suffering–and compassion for those in pain and suffering–often breed great art.
  • George Thorogood, One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer – Yep. It’s about drinking. Surprised?
  • Peter, Paul, and Mary, Puff the Magic Dragon – Is it? Or isn’t it? I mean, it was the 60s… and they were pretty laid back… and singing about dragons… and paper boys… (I don’t actually care, I just love the song… and the old cartoon movie.)
About Kier

I've been on the web since about 1994. I have a background in a lot of things, including a five year stint as a journalist and over a decade of helping people get their message out to the world.

I write on a number of subjects--everything from relationships to personal development to politics and every day life. I hope you get something worthwhile out of it.

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