Indeed it is, Rick James. At least you’ll have your old buddy Charlie Murphy to keep you company now, as well as to “check” you whenever you step across the line as you habitually do. The recently departed hilarious older brother of Eddie Murphy managed to achieve his own comedic and acting success due in part to his entertainingly embellished tales of his interactions with celebrities he met as his brother’s bodyguard in the 1980s. The passing of Prince last year brought back the classic Chappelle’s Show skit of Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories detailing his embarrassing loss in a basketball game where Prince made a purple rain of shots. Now with Charlie Murphy’s passing we can watch it once more along with the Rick James skit that preceded it.
Two years ago, I wrote a post listing many of my favorite songs that were influenced by being under the influence in “Don’t Forget to Bring A Towel”. Today, I am rehashing that concept with a new selection of songs that draw inspiration from drug culture whether it be through firsthand use of by the band, an observation they made of someone, or the toll it has taken on society.
So here are some more buzzworthy songs that you don’t have to wait until Thursday to enjoy:
“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind – Did you know that one of the happiest songs from the 90s was about being addicted to methamphetamine? A lesson in listening to the lyrics no matter the melody, Third Eye Blind, it’s surprisingly easy to miss the message and the entire second verse that graphically explains the routine of crystal consumption, and the ensuing verses that cover what follows.
“Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd – This infectiously catchy hit from last year demands to be danced to and I obliged it at a number of wedding receptions. If I can offer any advice regarding this, don’t waste the three and a half minutes you’re gyrating with a girl explaining how the subject of the song is not love, but cocaine.
“The Acid Queen” by The Who – From their rock opera Tommy, about the deaf, dumb, and blind pinball wizard, this Who song recounts how protagonist Tommy’s parents take him to an, ahem, holistic healer to cure his maladies. Exactly what she does to turn him into a man is uncertain, but the lyrics “your mind must learn to roam” and the title of the queen herself seem to imply some psychotropics are utilized.
“Are You Experienced?” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience – While we’re on the subject of psychedelia…. Jimi’s asking a lot of questions regarding where you’ve been and what you’ve done, but while your sexual history is definitely part of it, the real question remains, how high have you gotten?
“Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac – This song and the Rumours album was fueled by so much cocaine that Stevie Nicks wasn’t even sure how much of the song focused on the potent powder when interviewed 1997. She later elaborated that the cocaine in the song is a crutch for the people whose lives and relationship are crumbling – probably because they’re doing so much cocaine.
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” by Bob Dylan – As is the case with many Bob Dylan songs, there is some double entendre at play. “Everybody must get stoned” has potential roots in a number of political and social situations, but we all can figure out what Bob was really trying to tell us.
“And She Was “by The Talking Heads – Supposedly singer David Byrne based this on a girl he knew who had a wacky trip on some LSD. The idea of a woman floated over an absurd world definitely fits this theme, and this song definitely fits the repertoire of Byrne and The Talking Heads.
“Purple Pills” by D12 – Before he hit it big with Dr. Dre, Eminem formed the Dirty Dozen, or D12, with five other Detroit musicians (each had an alter ego to fulfill the “Dozen” part of the name; Eminem’s was Slim Shady). They cut a few hits, including this ode to the purple pills at the top of the assortment of drugs at their disposal. Never subtle, but always funky.
“Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo – I included this in my latest end of the year/start of a new one list of songs to learn from to improve your life. Tove Lo sings as a broken woman desperately maintaining a dangerous routine of staying fucked up to forget her former lover.
“I Want A New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News – You know the worst part of any drug? Well, besides the bodily harm in inflicts upon you,… and the mood and behavior alterations,… and the comedown. Actually, those are the worst things, and Huey Lewis and the News know it. That’s why they pine for something that gets them revved up without having to take it into the shop after every use. Just the high and no ill side effects is a pipe dream (not that kind of pipe), but at least Huey loves his baby since his ideal drug is one that makes him feel like he does with her.
“White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash – The message in this one is crystal clear – er, cocaine clear. The white stuff is the source of condemnation, but an ever present problem in this song from the master of rhyming the real-world issues plaguing underprivileged minorities in the 1980s.
“Bad” by U2 – Bono wrote “Bad” after one of his friend’s died from a heroin overdose. He describes the difficulty of dealing with addiction in the song which ranks as one of the band’s most epic – really saying something given their impressive catalog.
“Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones – There are many ways this song can be interpreted from drugs to homosexual sex, depending on whom you ask, but the argument for it being about drugs is backed up by the early line “all my friends are junkies”, but helped more so by its inclusion in Goodfellas where it is played over the gang shipping cocaine.
Just about anything by Dr. Dre that features Snoop Dogg – With Snoop at his side, Dre puffed out 1992’s The Chronic which contained plenty of direct statements of the use of marijuana and more by both rappers. I mean, it’s called The Chronic, what do you expect? However, in terms of a specific track dedicated to the stickiest of the icky, then you have to jump ahead to 1999’s 2001 which has a minimalist cover featuring not much more than marijuana leaves and the album name, but more importantly contains “The Next Episode”. “Still Dre” may have Snoop Dogg wrapping the rap up with a call to get “that real sticky-icky-icky” and put it in the air, but “The Next Episode” is more pot-conscious for the entirety of the song. Not to mention that it ends with the oft-repeated Nate Dogg line, “Smoke weed every day.”
Thanks for reading and listening! Send any questions, comments, or requests to email@example.com, and be sure to roll back up here next week for more fun.
La da dadada,
It’s the motherfuckin’ A-L-E-X