Drugs and alcohol. A common theme in a lot of music. The two things that can link polar opposite musicians. Our writers have picked their favourite tunes that delve into the dark and dingy habits of our favourite musicians.
‘Chocolate’ – The 1975
Chocolate, used heavily to represent weed in this single, is a staple of the true Indie vibes that The 1975 have shared with us over the last decade. The narrative of a group of youths encapsulated by cannabis, and struggling to combat it’s addictive nature, was defined by Matty Healy as “a love letter to the authority figures in our town”. The light staccato of the guitar introduction, accompanied by powerful lyrics and a dance/disco tone, has solidified this song on their set lists, and the couple times I’ve seen them live this song never disappoints.
‘Rehab’ – Amy Winehouse
‘Rehab’ is Amy Winehouse’s autobiographical hit, revolving around her insistence that she didn’t need professional help for the drug and alcohol addiction that ultimately resulted in her tragic death. Personally, it’s always surprised me that a song about such a distressing topic manages to be so upbeat, especially after Winehouse’s death. Yet, this isn’t a sad song. I’ve always felt it summed up Winehouse extremely well: broken, and strange, but also bubbly and optimistic in tone. I always felt she thought she would beat her demons, and that she genuinely believed she no longer needed help. Sadly, this song has become an ironic, but brilliant, reminder that she never did manage.
‘(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)’ – Car Seat Headrest
It’s taken me until day 8 to use a Car Seat Headrest song – my favourite band – and this one’s a corker. ‘Drugs with Friends’ is about the culture surrounding teen drug use, and how it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It describes, in his uniquely personal lyrical style, his first (and only) foray into the world of psychedelics. With biblical allusions and a catchy refrain confronting which is truly better – Drugs? Or your friends? Drugs with Friends is a non-preachy anthem for people who just don’t really get what all the fuss is about with substance use.
‘I Need a Dollar’ – Aloe Black
The main thing that makes me pick this song is a particular section of the lyrics, ” I had some good old buddy his names is whiskey and wine…And for my good old buddy I spent my last dime…My wine is good to me it helps me pass the time…And my good old buddy whiskey keeps me warmer than the sunshine” the song has sometimes been called the “Anthem of the recession” to me it is more than that, it is a song about struggle and being helpless, turning to drink to make your way through, and keep yourself warm. One of my all-time favourite songs.
‘Mother’s Little Helper’ – The Rolling Stones
I’ve always enjoyed listening to the Rolling Stones, and I’m one of those people who’d listen to them over the Beatles. I never realised what the song was about when I was younger but sharp clicked after properly listening to the lyrics. “Mother’s little helpers” were the nicknames for drugs like diazepam, one of many “calming” drugs that were given to housewives in the ‘60s and the risks of overdose. The song describes the usage of these drugs by a housewife to get her through the day.
‘Red Light Indicates Doors are Secured’ – Arctic Monkeys
This song quite literally sounds like it was written on a night out. Alex Turner captures that drunken confusion we all know and love, trying to figure out if one of the group has left already, negotiating with a taxi driver while watching two idiots throwing punches over something as simple as a dropped kebab. ‘Red Light’, like much of the Arctic Monkeys’ first album, is only made better by how relatable it is- the night out in this song sounds like it could have been lifted from my own memory, and interspersing the song with references to Sheffield is only going to get more marks from me. If you want a song that sums up going out so accurately that it might almost give you a hangover, look no further than this offering from Turner and co.
Heroin definitely has major downsides, but it’s prompted the composition of some bloody good songs. ‘Beetlebum’ is about Damon Alburn’s time on the drug with his then girlfriend Justine Frischmann and is Blur at their best. From their 1997 self-titled album it’s sleepy, moody and has an incredible riff. It’s probably my favourite Blur song and is right up there with The Velvet Underground and The La’s efforts as one of the best songs ever written about heroin.
‘Life of the Party’- The Weeknd
Whilst not a song about any particular kind of drug or alcohol, ‘Life of the Party’ from The Weeknd’s second mixtape Thursday– one of three mixtapes making up the Trilogy– is certainly a song which covers “consumption” pretty heavily. The song centres around The Weeknd taking drugs with a girl who is entering his dark world. The more she becomes affiliated with the lifestyle, the more she endears herself to Abel’s circle becoming the “life of the party”. Abel’s vocals become steadily more distorted throughout the track as the levels of consumption increase and the licks of heavy guitar bookend the song. ‘Life of the Party’ is one of The Weeknd’s finest tracks, just don’t take its message to heart.
30 day song challenge 30 days of music Aloe Blacc amy winehouse Arctic Monkeys Beetlebum Blur Car Seat Headrest chocolate I Need a Dollar Life of the Party Music Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure rehab The 1975 the weeknd
Last modified: 24th May 2020