Get Your Musical Fix Here: 21 Songs About Addiction
This article belongs to Addictions theme.
21. Wasting Away In Margaritaville: Jimmy Buffet
"Blew out my flipflop, stepped on a poptop
Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home,
But there's booze in the blender,
And soon it will render,
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.
Yes, some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
And I know it's my own damn fault."
Jimmy Buffet has a knack for describing passing time with a good margarita buzz. It just sounds so damn irresistible, you forget about the horrible hang-overs that tend to accompany these frozen treats. In all seriousness, the theme in this song is one I'm sure many of us can relate to. You get dissed by some woman (or man) and in attempt to drown your misery, you turn to the bottle. I wonder how many alcohol addictions were born out of stupid relationship decisions.
20. Every Breath You Take: The Police
"Oh, cant you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches
With every breath you take
Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I'll be watching you"
Addictions come in all shapes, sizes and forms. Typically, when we think of addictions, we assume the source to be a substance like alcohol or a drug. When Sting sings "Every Breath You Take", it clearly implies that this is a man addicted to a person. Maybe at one time he was merely obsessed with the object of his desire, but we're in full blown addiction-mode when he proclaims that "every move you make, I'll be watching you." Probably not such a healthy move, but because it's Sting, we'll overlook the menace potential here. How did stalking end up getting such a bad name anyway?
19. White Lines: Grandmaster Flash
"Ticket to ride, white line highway
Tell all your friends, they can go my way
Pay your toll, sell your soul
Pound for pound costs more than gold
The longer you stay, the more you pay
My white lines go a long way
Either up your nose or through your vein
With nothin to gain except killin' your brain"
I remember hearing this catchy dance tune at a nightclub in the 1990's and having no clue what the song was really about. I learned a lot about drugs and addictions from old school rap.
18. One More Addiction: Natalie Imbruglia
"First the good news
Its gonna feel very nice
Then the bad news
You gotta pay a heavy price
Rip tide,we slide we ride on a deep forbidden sea
Under we go-so slow
And you're hanging onto me"
Natalie puts it rather eloquently and wisely. If it feels good, it's probably bad for you. But oh, how good it is to be bad sometimes...
17. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds: The Beatles
"Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain,
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers,
That grow so incredibly high.
Newspaper taxis appear on the shore,
Waiting to take you away.
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds,
And you're gone."
Songs don't get trippier than this! John and Paul *had* to be hitting some sort of substance when they came up with the lyrics for "Lucy". (Warning: if you ever get your hands on the William Shatner remake of this tune, I strongly recommend you indulge in some sort of substance before giving it a listen. You will break down and cry if you listen to it sober.)
16. The Crystal Ship: The Doors
"Oh tell me where your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die
Deliver me from reasons why
You'd rather cry, I'd rather fly
The crystal ship is being filled
A thousand girls, a thousand thrills
A million ways to spend your time
When we get back, I'll drop a line"
Jim Morrison lived a life of excess...drugs, drink, sex, food. Unfortunately for music fans, this poet-turned-rock-god never was able to get his demons under control.
15. Cocaine: Eric Clapton
"If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues; cocaine.
When your day is done and you wanna run; cocaine.
She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine."
It's good to know if you're looking for the truth, cocaine won't let you down. At least according to Clapton.
14. Joey: Concrete Blond
"Joey, honey - I got some money
All is forgiven. listen, listen
And if I seem to be confused
I didn't mean to be with you.
And when you said I scared you,
Well I guess you scared me too.
But we got lucky once before
And if you're somewhere out there
Passed out on the floor.
Oh Joey, I'm not angry anymore."
Sometimes people we care about drive us toward seeking solace in a bottle or otherwise. Joey and his lady friend clearly have some communication issues and poor Joey doesn't seem to know when enough is enough, so he consoles himself to the point where he passes out. Probably not a healthy coping mechanism.
13. Truckin: The Grateful Dead
"Sometimes the lights all shinin on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip its been.
What in the world ever became of sweet jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn't the same
Livin on reds, vitamin c, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is ain't it a shame? "
The Dead took their fans on a long, fabulously strange trip throughout the 60's and 70's and beyond. It's a shame Sweet Jane couldn't broaden her horizons past living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine though.
12. Hotel California: The Eagles
"Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave"
Some people I've spoken to believe Hotel California represented an actual rehab hospital/center. Others feel it's a metaphor for going through withdrawal from an addiction, a kind of purgatory of the mind: "We're programed to receive/you can check out any time you like/but you can never leave".
11. Because I Got High: Afroman
"I messed up my entire life because I got high
I lost my kids and wife because I got high
now I'm sleeping on the sidewalk and I know why
- cause I got high
I'm gonna stop singing this song because I'm high
I'm singing this whole thing wrong because I'm high
and if I don't sell one copy I know why
- cause I'm high"
Afroman's depiction of a life of perpetual tokin' is enough to serve as a reminder why too much pot smoking can render a person indifferent to pretty much everything. It's actually a jolly little tune, but I gotta say, it grates on my nerves after a while.
10. She Talks To Angels: The Black Crowes
"She never mentions the word addiction
In certain company
Yes, she'll tell you she's an orphan
After you meet her family
She paints her eyes as black as night, now
Pulls those shades down tight
Yeah, she gives a smile when the pain comes,
The pains gonna make everything alright"
This is a pretty but melancholy song about a girl attempting to hide her drug addiction. It also also likely she will be succumbing to her addiction soon, as the "talking to angels" theme here sounds like she is either hallucinating or is on her way to meeting Jesus "She wears a cross around her neck...the cross is from someone she has not met...not yet".
9. Lithium: Nirvana
"I'm so happy. Cause today I found my friends.
They're in my head. I'm so ugly. But that's ok.
'Cause so are you. We've broke our mirrors.
Sunday morning. Is everyday for all I care.
And I'm not scared. Light my candles.
In a daze cause I've found god."
Probably the best song ever to describe what it's like to have a mental breakdown. Cobain himself was no stranger to addictions and while lithium is commonly prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, it is common for people with mental illness to develop a substance abuse addiction--as a way of self-medicating. Or perhaps the substance abuse addictions make one more susceptible to mental breakdown/illness. Kind of a chicken/egg discussion. Either way, both can be scary.
8. Under The Bridge: Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Under the bridge downtown
Is where I drew some blood
Under the bridge downtown
I could not get enough
Under the bridge downtown
Forgot about my love
Under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away"
This tune has a unique paradox in that it encompasses a depressing tone as the singer realizes how much he has lost because of his addiction, yet at the same time there is a sense of hope that he has slayed his symbolic dragons as he recognizes he never again wants to feel like he did that day.
7. Rehab: Amy Winehouse
"I don't ever wanna drink again
I just ooh I just need a friend
I'm not gonna spend ten weeks
have everyone think I'm on the mend
It's not just my pride
It's just 'til these tears have dried"
It's impossible to create a song list about addictions and NOT include Amy Winehouse's claim to songstress infamy. Ms. Winehouse's continual downward spiral into annihilation is sad, predictable and even at times amusing as she literally becomes a parody of herself.
6. Numb: U2
"Gimme some more
A piece of me, baby
I feel numb
Don't grind Gimme some more
Don't swerve I feel numb
Lie, die, serve Gimme some more
Don't theorize, realise, polarise I feel numb
Chance, dance,dismiss, apologise Gimme what you got
Gimme what I don't get
Gimme what you got
Too much is not enough"
This is a U2 song mainly performed by the band's guitarist The Edge. The numbness he describes seems inevitable as he monotonously lists things we shouldn't do. Don't do this; don't do that...and sometimes the more we're told not to do things, the more appealing they become. If we live in a world where everything we could possibly do is frowned upon, we're quite likely find ourselves going "numb". Yet, in the background of The Edge's litany of "don'ts" we hear Bono, in a falsetto, coaxing voice...pleading "gimmie what you got/too much is not enough". It's as though he is mocking The Edge for being so "straitlaced" that he's actually turned numb. The question becomes about balance between extremes of excess and nothingness. Or perhaps it's really about numbness as a consequence of excess. I haven't figured it out yet myself.
5. Purple Haze: Jimi Hendrix
"Purple haze all in my eyes,
Don't know if its day or night
You got me blowin, blowin my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?"
Mr. Hendrix certainly knew how to dazzle. While he claims the lyrics to Purple Haze were inspired by a dream he had, it's hard to believe he wasn't under the influence of something when he wrote the song. His drug use and penchant for psychedelic substances were widely known, though it was an overdose on his girlfriend's sleeping pills in 1970 which reportedly were the cause of his death.
4. Hurt: Nine Inch Nails
"I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything"
A haunting song originally written and performed by Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor. Reznor has reportedly stated the song depicted his "heroin prison", though when listening to it, it almost sounds like it could be about self-injury/cutting. Although it does appear to make explicit references to drug abuse/addiction ("the needle tears a hole/the old familiar sting"), it really can be interpreted to be about any destructive behavior.
3. Comfortably Numb: Pink Floyd
Just a little pinprick.
There'll be no more --aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe its working. good.
That'll keep you going for the show.
Come on its time to go."
Pink Floyd's classic song about drug use in order to achieve that feeling of synthetic glee has been a fan favorite among stoners for decades now. Every stoner I've ever known had claimed watching Pink Floyd's "The Wall" while under the influence to be a most outstanding, religious experience. Also, in this particular song, there is a sense of the performer needing that little extra "something" to get him through the show. Rock and roll and drugs...can't have one without the other, or so it seems.
2. Heroin: Velvet Underground
"Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, its my wife and its my life
Because a mainer to my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I'm better off and dead
Because when the smack begins to flow
I really don't care anymore"
This Velvet Underground tune literally makes me feel as though I'm tripping out whenever I hear it...something about the hypnotic drumming and slowly climbing guitar licks toward an outright frenzy makes me dizzy, but in a very good way.
1. I'm Not An Addict: K's Choice
"The deeper you stick it in your vein
The deeper the thoughts there's no more pain
I'm in heaven, I'm a god
I'm everywhere, I feel so hot
It's not a habit, it's cool
I feel alive
If you don't have it you're on
the other side
I'm not an addict (maybe that's a lie)"
Sarah Bettens sultry, smoky voice in this song is truly addicting in and of itself. It's a great song about someone trying to convince herself she really doesn't *need* her drug of choice (heroin) and yet, in the end she realizes she very well may be lying to herself. The thing about addictions is until they are recognized for being as such, there is little hope that they can be overcome.
**Special thanks to my friends and fans on Twitter whose assistance in generating this song list was much appreciated!