7 Best Songs About Drugs

By Phungushead · Jan 26, 2013 · ·
  1. Phungushead
    Some celebrate good times, others educate about the harms that can come from addiction, while others describe prohibition-related violence.

    Despite our 40-year "war on drugs" and people like Nancy Reagan imploring us to "Just Say No" we are a society swimming in drugs -- coffee, antidepressants, painkillers, energy drinks, alcohol and sleeping pills, not to mention illegal drugs. Despite our elected officials calling for a "drug free society, the vast majority of people use drugs on a daily basis.

    Musicians are some of the most open and honest people when it comes to drug use in society. While there is still stigma and fear for most of us when it comes to talking about personal drug use, musicians share their experiences, both good and bad through their songs.

    There are an endless number of songs that address drug use. Some celebrate good times, others educate about the harms that can come from addiction, while others describe prohibition-related violence. Below are some of my favorites.

    1. "I've Got Five On It" (Luniz)

    "I've Got Five On It" is a song that celebrates friends getting together and having good times smoking weed. The title references people throwing in five bucks each to buy a bag a weed. This Bay area classic is an anthem that brings good memories and smiles to people's faces.

    2. "Love Is Gonna Get You" (KRS 1)

    "Love Is Gonna Get You" by KRS 1 insightfully describes the financial situations that get people into selling drugs and the terrible consequences that can happen to folks once they do. The song describes a family that is poor and struggling for food and clothes who sees that the drug trade can bring much-needed money and prestige. The story ends in tragedy as people are shot and killed in drug prohibition-related violence.

    3. "Mother's Little Helper" (The Rolling Stones)

    Back in the '50s and '60s millions of people took Valium to cope with the stress and tedium of everyday life. The Stones' "Mother's Little Helper"is an insightful song about housewives using prescription pills that conveys society's ambivalence about drug dependence.

    4. "Going Through Changes" (Eminem)

    Eminem's "Going Through Changes" shows the dark side of addiction. You feel his depression and hopelessness and watch him going deeper and deeper until he ends up overdosing and in the hospital. He survives and then expresses his determination to clean up and get off of drugs.

    5. "10 Crack Commandments" (Biggie Smalls)

    Notorious BIG often sang about his experiences selling drugs in Brooklyn. He shares the rules of the drug dealing game in "10 Crack Commandments" -- some nuggets of wisdom include "don't get high on your own supply" and "never let them know how much dough you hold."

    6. "Legalize It!" (Peter Tosh)

    Peter Tosh's "Legalize It"is one of the most famous songs calling for an end to marijuana prohibition. 35 years after Tosh asked us to "Legalize It, Not Criticize It," Washington and Colorado made history by voting to tax and regulate marijuana.

    7. "Peruvian Coke" (Immortal Technique)

    In "Peruvian Coke," Immortal Technique summarizes the drug trade and the harms of prohibition from the coca fields in Peru to the streets of Harlem. He does an incredible job covering the whole journey, from the plants growing in Latin America to people being incarcerated in New York.

    The Role of Musicians in Breaking the Taboo

    Musicians and artists play a crucial role in breaking the taboo when it comes to talking about personal drug use and the drug trade. They can capture the experience of using drugs and also provide insightful analysis on larger societal issues like mass incarceration and prohibition related violence in a quick and entertaining way. Let's hope that more musicians continue to use their platform to entertain, educate and inspire major shifts in the way society deals with drugs and the people who make, use and sell them. Because the war on drugs is really a war on all of us. And the war on drugs is not going to end itself.

    January 25, 2013

    Tony Newman

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  1. Mindless
    If we're talking Boogie Down Productions here the original version of Illegal Business from the album By All Means Necessary would rank high, if you'll pardon the pun. The story is one of prohibition, violence and police corruption. Dopeman by NWA paints a grim portrait of mutual exploitation and violence. Lee Perry's Legalise Cannabis is a beatiful, uplifting protest song. Get Yourself High by the Chemical Brothers doesn't say much other than 'get yourself high' but its a good bouncy tune. Hendrix's Purple Haze is a classic LSD song as well as an outstanding piece of music. The Reefer Song by Mindless Drug Hoover is the tale of a peddling dope peddlar who is arrested but goes on to sell cannabis to cops;
    My baby takes K all day (From the Mixmag Visionquest CD) makes me laugh and reminds me of one or two old friends:
    White Rabbit as recommended later in this thread is absolutely spot on; feed your head. So that's my seven. I'd like to add the Fun Loving Criminals' Scooby Snacks as number eight; its such a joyous and fun track.

    Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) in the US run a scheme called Amplify, I think Release and SSDP UK have tried something similar:
    I wonder if DF could do something like this. We have a lot of readers as well as members, perhaps this could generate publicity at possibly no cost, in return for publicizing gigs and bands at DF. Perhaps this should be a separate thread in ideas to improve DF. In any case, Phungushead's point on the role of musicians in breaking taboos is quite insightful:
    The relationship between narcoactivists and artists of all kinds could be something worth investigating and investing in. What do others think?
  2. Cannabisonly
    Three Days Grace-Gone Forever ;)

    It's about quitting Oxycodone, Adam Gontier was an addict too...
  3. CaptainTripps
    Here are some great choices that did not make the list.

    Smugglers Blues by Glenn Frey. This is an absoultly amazingly astute analysis of the war on drugs. It is a song written from the perspective of a drug smuggler, who knows you just can't win, but just can't stop. It starts with a drug deal gone bad and ends with the following line, 'it's the losing proposition, the one you can't refuse, it's the politics of contraband, it's the smugglers blues".

    Sam Stone by John Prine. This is about a wounded war veteran who starts out on morphine for pain and ends up on heroin. It contains the great line, "there's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes, Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose". The song ends with him overdosing and the line, 'life had lost it fun and there was nothing to be done but trade his house that bought on the G.I. bill for a flag draped casket on a local hero's hill".

    Sister Morphine by the Rolling Stones. This song is from the perspective of a drug addict who is dying from injuries from a car accident and all he can think about is getting a fix. The fix he knows will be his last.

    Tree Top Flyer by Stephen Stills. This is a song about a Viet Nam vet who comes back to the US, with one skill, flying very fast a very low altitudes. A skill he puts to good use, "carrying any cargo you can pay to run". He basically brags about being the best at what he does. The song ends with the line, "there are things I am and there's things I'm not, I'm a smuggler and I could get shot, but I ain't going to die and I ain't going to get caught, I'm a flying fool and the aeroplane is just too hot"

    Son of a Son of a Sailor by Jimmy Buffet This is another smuggling tale by one of the best story tellers around. It's told from the perspective of the grandson of a sailor who carries on the family tradition but, with a slightly different slant.

    Cocaine by J.J. Cale. This song made famous by Eric Clapton came out in a time where cocaine was so expensive that many people thought that the biggest danger was to ones pocket book. It contains the classic line, "just don't forget this fact, you can't get it back, cocaine".

    White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. This sixties take on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is truly a classic. This was a major drug anthem at the time with it's call to "feed your head". With lines like "one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all, go ask Alice when she's 10 feet tall".

    Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. This is the classic song about LSD. I am sure most of you have heard it, my apologies for this who haven't, but you will have to excuse me as I have to go and "kiss the sky".

    Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young. This haunting song about the dangers of heroin addiction is short, to the point and very moving. The opening line kind of says it all. "I caught you knocking on my cellar door, 'I love you baby, can I have some more?'

    Talking Back to the Night by Steve Winwood. "Something seems to take, every dime a man can make". Great song about an out of work saxophone player who is trying to overcome cocaine addiction though the love of a woman. " Although it is madness, he tries to find another line". While this never made the top 40, it is one of the best works of this genius who was lead singer for the Spencer Davis Group at age 14.

    Taxi by Harry Chapin. Story of a cab driver who picks up former girlfriend as a fare. The story talks about their earlier dreams, her of becoming an a actress and him "learning to fly". She had become an actress and he had become someone who "flies so high, when their stoned". Not only a cool song, by reached a very broad audience.

    Tonight's the Night by Neil Young. This song is about Neil's roadie, Bruce Berry who dies of a heroin overdose. This is a very powerful cautionary tale. With lines like "people let me tell you, it sent chills up and down my spine, when I picked up the telephone and heard that he died, out on the mainline". It is the title song off an album his producers said was unsellable because it was so "raw". It latter went on to become a classic. FYI, for those who don't know, the cover for this album is my avatar.

    I could actually go on and on like this. There are simply too many great drug songs to list. I decided to keep it short, so someone might actually read it. ;)

    To hell with keeping it short. Here are some more I thought of after taking my nap.

    Cold Turkey by John Lennon. Great song about a persons battle to kick heroin the hard way. With lines like "praying to someone, please make me well, I'll promise you anything, get me out of this hell". I also just love the painful screaming at the end of the song.

    Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles. Sure John Lennon said it was about a picture his child drew. Maybe that was the inspiration, but it clearly about LSD. Even the name of the song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

    Dead Flowers by the Rolling Stones. Great song about a man singing to what is presumably his ex girlfriend who is well to do while he is living the junkie lifestyle. "While your setting there in your silver posted chair, making bets on Kentucky Derby Day, I'll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon and another 'girl' to take my pain away."

    Low by Cracker. "A million poppies is going to make me sleep, just one rose that knows your name, fruit is rusting on the vine, the fruit is calling from the trees" I love the comment about the junkie cosmonaut, I have considered using that as my user title.

    It's Been Awhile by Staind. Amazingly powerful song about about addiction, recovery. love and remorse. This is in my opinion the best contemporary drug song there is. "Why must I feel this way, just make this go away, just one more peaceful day". There really is nothing I can say to do this song justice. You have to hear this to believe it. If you can listen to the "unrated" itunes version.

    The Low Spark of High Healed Boys by Traffic. Up to this point I have only listed songs that are clearly drug songs. Low Spark is a somewhat cryptic song that does not mention drugs per se, but to me at least from my perspective, it sure seems like a drug song. It opens with "if you see something that looks like a star and it's shooting up out of the ground and your head is spinning from a loud guitar" it sure does not sound like any experience I have had while straight. I also love the line, "the percentage of playing is too high priced, while you are living beyond all your means and the man in suit has just bought a new car from the profit he's made on your dreams, but today you just sweared that the man was shot dead by a gun the did not make any noise, but it wasn't a bullet that laid him to rest, it was the low spark of high heeled boys". Who knows, maybe I am wrong on this. I must say that the instrumentals on this song are fantastic, sort of a rock/jazz fusion thing. Check it out, then you decide.
  4. MoonLitCrystal
    Has anyone heard the new song A Team by Ed Sheeran? It's not on the top 7 by far, but I thought it was interesting enough to mention. What surprised me about the song is that it has such an upbeat, sweet little melody while it talks about the harsh realities of drug use. "And in a pipe she flies to the Motherland, or sells love to another man." I guess I have never heard a song with such blunt lyrics, if that makes sense. Plenty of other songs allude to drug use and prostitution, but this song just puts it right out there.
  5. tdv123
    Golden Brown by The Stranglers. I only found out recently that the song was about Heroin. "Golden brown texture like sun. Lays me down with my mind she runs, Throughout the night No need to fight Never a frown with golden brown".
  6. kalishakti
    Ones I haven't yet seen mentioned that I always personally loved...

    Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)... Pop Up Drops (Plasticland).. Flower Scene (Plasticland)
  7. runnerupbeautyqueen
    This song was nominated for Song of the Year. I really like it but I hate the video. The thing doesnt make sense. For example it shows the girl waking up on a park bench but the lyrics talk about rent money. And when she wakes up shes smiling and spinning around. As a former hobo I can promise the last thing we do upon waking and remembering that we are indeed, a hobo, is spin around smiling. And then at the end she supposedly overdoses...after smoking crack.

    I really like the call girl, no phone part.
  8. MikePatton
    Pantera - Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills: A very twisted song about Opiates I believe, though it's not clear:
    Luniz - I Got 5 On It
    D12 - Purple Pills - One of the greatest drug songs of all time, praising the recreational use of Cannabis, Mushrooms, MDMA, Mescaline, Cocaine, Heroin, LSD, Valium, Vicodins and pretty much anything really:
    Wu-Tang Clan - As High As Wu-Tang Get:

    Eminem: Drug Ballad, Under The Influence, My Fault (Mushrooms), I'm Shady:
    Drug Ballad - Em gives a retrospect of his drug abuse "carreer":
    Eminem - My Fault: My personal favorite, Eminem is trying to introduce a girl at a party to the magical world of psychedelic mushrooms, but not knowing the dosage, the girl eats the whole bag (22 caps) and overdoses bigtime.
    Tool - The Pot: As far as I know this song is about the hypocrisy of Marijuana prohibition, but I guess it could be taken in more than one way.
    Mr. Bungle - Goodbye Sober Day
    Public Enemy - Night of the Living Baseheads
    N.W.A - Dopeman
    System Of A Down - This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song, She's Like Heroin

    Edit: Oh my, I didn't notice "I got 5 on it" was not only already on the list, but it's number one! Damn I couldn't agree more, this song is just epic, I grew up smoking to it and its been my ringtone since way back.
  9. killer_demo
    Tech N9ne - T9X
    Tech N9ne - Get Blowed
    Yukmouth - I need weed
    Berner - Wakey Bakey
    Berner - Pie
    Jim Jones - Blow Your Smoke
    Mac Dre - Bleezies N Heem
    Mac Dre - Fire
    Mack 10 - Take a Hit
    Messy Marv - U Get High
    Wiz Khalifa - That Good
    Snoop Dogg - This weed is mine
    Styles P - I get high
  10. cdsnever
    Personal fav "Im not an addict" K's choice
  11. Shanthi
    I dont even know if the song does refer to drugs but I always thought it did - Sweet dreams are made of these - Marlyn Manson (I know somebody else wrote it, sang it before he did).

    Im going to do some research on the song now:)

    I also love 'Down in a hole' by Alice in Chains - I can connect to the song so well when i have too much of drugs but no happiness in me.. But what is it about Im not sure! Again, going to read up to give a more educated response.
  12. MikePatton
    Down In a Hole is an incredible song. And since you mentioned it, I think all my favorite drug songs are by Alice In Chains, I love hearing Layne's addiction tales. Some good songs about drugs by them are:
    Hate To Feel - Layne is facing the fact that he has become a junkie like his father:
    "Pin cushion medicine
    Used to be curious - Now the shit's sustenance
    All this time I swore I'd never Be like my old man
    What the hey it's time to face Exactly what I am".

    Godsmack - This song is straight up about Heroin, not even trying to mask it or make it vague:
    "What in God's name have you done?
    Stick your arm for some real fun
    So your sickness weighs a ton
    And God's name is smack for some"

    Chemical Addiction - This is one of the early demos, young Layne describes life in the ghetto and the drug use that goes with it. The last two lines are especially ironic/tragic considering his untimely death from an overdose years later:
    "Chosen on the floor, take another drag
    Bought a bunch of valiums from skinny broadway bag
    I don't know much about heroin but I, I wanna try
    Just about everything once before I die"
  13. timeformypills
    Mother's Little Helper is my favorite drug song for sure, I can imagine how much valium I've made my Mom pop, lol. When I was a punk ass kid it was Oxy Cotton by Lil Wyte :s
  14. Crazyyy
    Strawberry by Everclear

    Song about the struggle of heroin addiction. Great song (although I am an Everclear fan in general anyways). Many great songs mentioned in this thread. So many more I just can't think of right now due to... no... reason... at... all! ;)
  15. MikePatton
    Stone Temple Pilots - Trippin on a hole in a paper heart

    It's about a bad acid trip:
  16. Moving Pictures
    Jane Says by Jane's Addiction is probably my favorite song about using. Cus it's always tomorrow when you're gonna kick and how this is your last time, but you never do and it never is.

    Canned Heat Blues by Tommy Johnson is an awesome song as well. It's an old blues song that Johnson wrote about drinking Sterno (canned heat) during Prohabation to get drunk. It's pretty rough...

    Say Hello to Heaven by Temple of the Dog, even though it isn't directly about using but about a friend they lost to using.

    Sludge Factory by Alice in Chains. "Now the body of one soul I adore wants to die/she always told me she'd not live past 25"
  17. Moving Pictures
    Yeah, it's pretty good. I heard it a few months back on a pop station and it had this pretty little tune to it and then I listened to the words and it was pretty real. It was funny because of the station it was being played on, that song and the next up was probably "We're Never Getting back Together" by Taylor Swift, lol.

    Yeah, a pretty good song though, good for a new tune. He did it live on the Today show the other day. Sounded good.
  18. Sleepy9011
    Kid Cudi- Don't Play This Song
  19. GossamerWings393
    Winterpills--"Pills for Sara"
  20. Kizersozay
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