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6 Great Songs Written About Drugs

11 Feb, 2010 Music
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It is a pretty popular trend for musicians to use drugs to find “inspiration” when writing and playing.  Some have taken it too far, became addicted and even OD’d. Some have found a balance in their lives with them and some have written great songs about them. Although many songs have been written about drugs here are 6 great songs written about drugs. Let’s start with the obvious…

#1 Cocaine - Eric Clapton.

“Cocaine” is a song written and recorded by J.J. Cale in 1976 and most widely known in a cover version recorded by Eric Clapton. 

It was released on Clapton’s 1977 album Slowhand and as a single in 1980. “Cocaine” failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 except as the ‘B’ side of “Lay Down Sally”, which was a No. 3 hit in early 1978. “Cocaine” was one of several of Cale’s songs recorded by Clapton, including “After Midnight” and “Travelin’ Light”.

#2 Mr Brownstone - Guns N’ Roses

Mr. Brownstone“   appeares on Guns n’ Roses 1987 album Appetite for Destruction. 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”. When they had the lyrics all together, they wrote it down on the back of a grocery bag and brought it to Axl. Slash says the lyrics describe a typical day in the life of Slash and Izzy. He also states that it was the first song the band wrote after getting signed by Geffen Records.

#3 Heroin - The Velvet Underground

Heroin was released on their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Written by Lou Reed in 1964, the song is one of the band’s most celebrated compositions, overtly depicting heroin use and abuse. Critic Mark Deming writes, “While ‘Heroin’ hardly endorses drug use, it doesn’t clearly condemn it, either, which made it all the more troubling in the eyes of many listeners”. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it #448 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

#4 Hits From The Bong - Cypress Hill

Actually a number of songs off of Black Sunday are about this subject but this has the best title.  It was on the second album by rap group Cypress Hill released on July 20, 1993. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, recording the highest Soundscan for a rap group at the time. The album went Triple platinum in the U.S.

Hits From The Bong featured samples from

  • “Son Of A Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
  • “Get Out Of My Life, Woman” by Lee Dorsey
  • “Don’t Cha Hear Me Calling To Ya” by Junior Mance


#5 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - The Beatles

Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney for the group’s 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. At the time of its release, the Beatles claimed that the inspiration for the song came from a drawing by John Lennon’s son, Julian, which Julian called “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.

The song sparked controversy when released, including being banned by the BBC because of the supposed reference to the drug LSD, with the first letter of each noun in the title spelling LSD. Although Lennon denied that the L-S-D in the title was a reference to the drug,McCartney later said it was “pretty obvious” that the song was inspired by LSD.

#6 Puff The Magic Dragon - Peter, Paul and Mary

It was written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow, but made popular by the group Peter, Paul and Mary in a 1963 recording. The lyrics for “Puff, the Magic Dragon” were based on a 1959 poem by Leonard Lipton, a 19-year-old Cornell University student.

In 1961, Yarrow joined Paul Stookey and Mary Travers to form Peter, Paul and Mary. The group incorporated the song into their live performances before recording it in 1962; their 1962 recording of “Puff” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1963. The song also spent two weeks atop the Billboard easy listening chart that same year.

The lyrics tell a story of the ageless dragon Puff and his playmate Jackie Paper, a little boy who grows up and loses interest in the imaginary adventures of childhood and leaves Puff alone and depressed. The story of the song takes place “by the sea” in the fictional land of Honalee.

After the song’s initial success, speculation arose that the song contained veiled references to smoking marijuana. For example, the word “paper” in the name of Puff’s human friend (Jackie Paper) was said to be a reference to rolling papers, and the word “dragon” was interpreted as “draggin’,” i.e. inhaling smoke; similarly, the name “Puff” was alleged to be a reference to taking a “puff” on a joint.

The authors of the song have repeatedly rejected this and have strongly and consistently denied that they intended any references to drug use. Blah blah blah it’s about pot end of story.

Yeah yeah yeah we know we missed some. Feel free to add more in the comments…

11 Comments

  1. AfroJack, I can't believe you let out the greatest song ever written about drugs - White Rabbit written by Grace Slick who later joined Jefferson Airplane. How did you overlook that ?

  2. Smoke Two Joints - Bob Marley

  3. rollin' - Three 6 Mafia

  4. My Little Needle- Alkaline Trio

  5. what a fag lol

  6. Master of Puppets-Metallica

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