Friday, November 30, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special Higher Than a Barking Dog Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to a legal seminar at Joe Klein's Hamptons estate (or at least we think we are; Joe hasn't yet confirmed that he has the time for it). In any case, posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Drug Song, Pro or Anti!!!!!!!!!!

[An editorial note: Obviously, the Sixties and Early Seventies were the Golden Age of Pharmacological Songcraft, so the selections here are mostly rather moss laden; I tried my best to find contemporary examples, but all the good ones seem to be moldy oldies. In fact, the most recent example of the genre I can recall is that awful Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under the Bridge" crapola, and that's from 1992 fer crissakes. So please -- if some of you younger degenerates can point out a 21st century exemplar, I'll be happy to tag it onto the list as an honorable mention. Have your dealer call me.]

In any case, my carefully considered Top Ten would be....

10. (tie) Bob Dylan -- Rainy Day Women #12 and 35

and The First Edition -- Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)

9. Brewer and Shipley
-- One Toke Over the Line

8. Neil Young -- The Needle and the Damage Done

7. Jefferson Airplane -- White Rabbit

6. Grandmaster Flash -- White Lines (Don't Do It)

[sorry -- could only find the inferior Duran Duran version]

5. Velvet Underground -- I'm Waiting For the Man

4. Marianne Faithfull (with the Rolling Stones) -- Sister Morphine

3. Paul Revere and the Raiders -- Kicks

2. John Lennon -- Cold Turkey

and the number one drug song is....

1. Flaming Groovies -- Slow Death

C'mon, apart from the fact it rocks as hard as any number of Stones classics, it's also the only anti-drug tune I can think of that combines clear headed realism about the perils of addiction with genuine humor. Really -- who else but the Groovies could have written a cautionary drug song that was actually, intentionally, funny?

Okay -- what are your faves?


four legs good said...

Don't kill me, but I always like the Clapton song, Cocaine.

Though I don't actually care for cocaine. I much prefer chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Steve, OT, but if you are reading this, then check your email pleez.

Anonymous said...

Dylan's "Tom Thumbs Blues'

Grateful Dead's "Casey Jones"

I don't believe for one second that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" isn't about LSD.

Hendrix' "Are You Experienced?"

Would you consider Garbage's "Fix Me Now" about drugs? I'm on a mini-obsession with that album right now.

Anonymous said...

I got:

Carmelita - Warren Zevon

Chinese Rocks - The Ramones/The Heartbreakers

Freddie's Dead - Curtis Mayfield

Heroin - Velvet Underground

Reefer Man - Cab Calloway (talk about yer moldy oldie)

Carbona (Not Glue) - The Ramones

Sweet Leaf - Black Sabbath

Another Girl, Another Planet - The Only Ones (I'm convinced it's about the junk)

Psychedelic Shack - The Temptations (the Moonlighting version!)

No No Song - Ringo Starr

The Pusher - Steppenwolf

Anonymous said...

Steely Dan: Black Cow

NYMary said...

Well, "Kicks" is my all time, fave, but XTC's "Grass" is pretty cool, too.

VforVirginia said...

Joni Mitchell, "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," for its subtlety and beauty.

)I won't say precisely how I would know such a thing, but the first time I heard it I got a chill and said, "Oh, that song is about heroin.")

steve simels said...

I don't know the Garbage thing Brooklyn Girl mentioned, but has anybody else got one written in the last seven years?

I can't believe that there hasn't been a decent drug song so far in the 21st century....

TJWood said...

There will be the inevitable argument about whether "Eight Miles High" by the Byrds belongs here. The Byrds were adamant that the song was about nothing more than the airport ride to London for their first U.K. tour. The FCC, or whoever, thought otherwise. I'll include it here based on David Crosby's comment in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Rock Songs edition of a few years ago that on one hand the song wasn't about drugs at all, but on the other hand it was because "we were stoned when we wrote it".

Two other psychedelic-era drug songs I'll nominate are:

Itchycoo Park by Small Faces and Mother's Little Helper by the Rolling Stones.

For more recent examples, I'll take "Supersonic" by Oasis and "The Drugs Don't Work" by the Verve. Nothing from the new millennium comes to mind yet.

NYMary said...

Well, there's Weezer.

And, uh, Weezer.

The first one was one of the reasons I stopped reading Pitchfork--they hated this record, and took it a personal betrayal that they and Rivers Cuomo had parted company. "I don't know what I ever saw in you!"But the line about this song--stating that it was basically the children's camp song "Diarrhea"--did crack me up.

steve simels said...

Ooh, I'd forgotten that Verve song -- love that....

NYMary said...

Ooo, Oasis! (What's the Story) Morning Glory is a good drug song.

steve simels said...

It dawns on me that there HAS to be a hip-hop song in the last seven years that glorifies the Devil's lettuce, if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

I've long been fond of "Mr. and Mrs. Smack", by Eat, from the only album that was worth getting, Sell Me A God.

As a cure for that heroin chic, there was The Cranberries "Salvation".

Of course, there's the obvious Talking Heads "Drugs" from their beautiful collaboration with Brian Eno, Fear of Music.

Anonymous said...

Damn! Forgot my number one fave:

Alice In Chains, "Junkhead", from Dirt

What's my drug of choice? Well, what have you got?!

NYMary said...

Thers has long been keen on The Lemonheads' Drug Buddy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it was so overplayed back in the day that I blocked it out: Jane's Addiction's "Jane Says". more...I must give honorable mention to Eliot Smith's "Needle in the Hay".

[And yes...I know by the number of my posts that I'm giving away more of my past than I should. No worries, though. Age cured me--too old for such shenanigans.]

Anonymous said...

Being a huge Mats fan, I always have to find a song from them that fits. Fortunately, drugs were a big theme for the Replacements.

"Dope Smokin' Moron"

"I Bought A Headache"

Heather said...

"Another Girl" was indeed about the junk. It's a fave, and so are "Dope Smokin' Moron" and "The Needle and the Damage Done."

Steve, how about "Planet of Weed" by Fountains of Wayne? It's on Traffic and Weather.

Much as I love the stuff (well, used to) there aren't many good songs about coke.

Heather said...

Oh, and I can't believe that on a power pop blog, no one has mentioned "Yellow Pills" yet!

Kid Charlemagne said...

The Ramones had a string of huffing hits:

Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
Carbona not Glue

Also the Clash:

Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad

Drug Stabbing Time

TMink said...

Legalize It by Peter Tosh.

One Draw by Rita Marley. The long version has a funny little section about kids teaching the teacher about ideas that make sinse I mean sense.

China Girl by David bowie (ducking as he types it.)


Anonymous said...

How about Hurt from Nine Inch Nails?

Alice In Chains, "Junkhead", from Dirt

Isn't Dirt an entire CD about drugs?

Anonymous said...

flappy beat me to "Hurt," but I prefer the Johnny Cash version...

Anonymous said...

China Girl by David bowie (ducking as he types it.)

If you're gonna cite this song (and I don't know that it's actually a drug song), you HAVE to cite the Iggy Pop original.

Bowie's is a pale anemic limp soggy copy by comparison.

Has anyone mentioned Puff the Magic Dragon? It wasn't a drug song, but it was treated as one by the FCC.

Journey to the Center of Your Mind's a golden oldie.

Anonymous said...

"Glad Girls (Only Want to Get You High)," from Guided by Voices' Isolation Drills. It's even from this millennium, i believe.

And the more I listen to it, the more I'm persuaded that The La's exquisite "There She Goes" is all about the junk.

Anonymous said...

"Legalize It" by Peter Tosh. A song and a polite request.

Anonymous said...

Most of my faves have already been cited. I can't believe no one mentioned any Marley songs yet, "Red, Red Wine" (don't think he wrote that one, though), "Lively Up Yourself," "Mellow Mood," etc., and I'm shocked (shocked) that KC didn't nominate "Kid Charlemagne" or "Dr. Wu."

Also, I'd like to nominate Lou Reed as the undisputed king of drug songs. In addition to the above-mentioned "Heroin" "Waiting for the Man," and "Sweet Jane," allow me to add "The Kids," "Caroline Says"--in fact, the entire Berlin album.

Anonymous said...

Gogol Bordello "Not A Crime"

Kid Charlemagne said...

BTW, the Brewer and Shipley pick reminded me of this:

"Man, this is the way to travel," said my attorney. He leaned over to turn the volume up on the radio, humming along with the rhythm section and kind of moaning the words: "One toke over the line . . . Sweet Jesus . . . One toke over the line . . ."

One toke? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn bats. I could barely hear the radio . . . slumped over on the far side of the seat, grappling with a tape recorder turned all the way up on "Sympathy for the Devil." That was the only tape we had, so we played it constantly, over and over, as a kind of demented counterpoint to the radio. And also to maintain our rhythm on the road. A constant speed is good for gas mileage -- and for some reason that seemed important at the time. Indeed. On a trip like this, one must be careful about gas consumption. Avoid those quick bursts of acceleration that drag blood to the back of the brain.

Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas

NYMary said...

And Redd Kross's delightful "Stoned."

Anonymous said...

Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen's "Down To Seeds & Stems Again Blues"

The Hounds "Click Lock"

The entire Jefferson Airplane album "Bathing at Baxter's"!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant the Hound's "Six Plain Clothes Detectives". I have no clue what "Click Lock" is about. I must have been on drugs when I last listened to "Click Lock".

Unknown said...

The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)

and I second Dylan's Just Like Tom Thumb Blues

shrimplate said...

I'm glad to see "Planet of Weed" and The Pusher" get a mention. Steppenwolf was an enormous influence on me in my younger days and they had numerous cautionary drug songs such as the bittersweet "Snowblind Friend" which was also, like "The Pusher," written by Hoyt Axton.

Despite its pastoral imagery "Grass" by XTC certainly sounds pretty mellow to me.

"Belladonna" by Siouxsie and the Banshees gives a nod to deadly nightshade flower which contain atropine.

"It" which culminates the Peter Gabriel Genesis Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is arguably about LSD; there's a line in the lyrics that says "it is purple haze," and the whole work is trippy.

"Pass The Dutchie" by the lamented Musical Youth presents the paradox of sharing a spliff with a bunch of hungry kids.

Another Brit/Jamaican outfit, Black Slate, had a companion song to Tosh's "Legalize It" called "Legalize Collie Herb" but they never got much traction.

The Cole Porter jazz standard "I Get a Kick Out of You" has an original line in it about cocaine that sometimes gets changed or omitted.

The saxophonist Art Pepper actually titled a 1960 album "Smack Up" after the eponymous tune that starts the album... he landed in jail shortly afterwards (again) for drug problems.

Of course there's Kris Kristofferson's notorious (with help from Johnny Cash) "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

The most famous "drug song" in the world of classical music would be "Symphonie Fantastique" by Hector Berlioz, the program of which describes a lovesick protagonist who goes into an opium-induced march to the gallows and then a hallucinatory witch's sabbath.

"One More Fix" by Ministry is absolutely brutal. I can't listen to it.

My all-time favorite has to be "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." Yes, I've googles the picture, but I'm convinced it's a drug song. Looking-glass ties, indeed.

agitpropre said...

Did I miss Little Feat and 'Don't Bogart that Joint"?

But top of the heap is FZ's anti-drug screed(s) in 200 Motels - "Mystery Roach" "Dental hygiene Dilemma" ...the message is clear - don't. Good for Frank.

And Max Webster - " Go For Soda", same deal.

"Not necessarily stoned, but...beautiful..."

MBowen said...

Recent drug songs: does Rehab count?

Checking my 2007 releases, I didn't see anything about drugs per se, but three songs about drug users: Vince, The Lovable Stoner by The Fratellis, and two songs about Britain's favorite model-shagging, Jaguar-smashing junkie, Graham Parker's England's Latest Clown and Linda Thompson's Babyshambles.

steve simels said...

I can't believe I didn't remember "Rehab." Hell, Amy Winehouse has done more drugs than I've had hot meals....

trifecta said...

Actually, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' song "Higher Ground" is a great pick.

It's not "Under The Bridge".

trifecta said...

Doh, didn't mean "Higher Ground". That's the Stevie Wonder remake.

I meant "Knock Me Down".

Anonymous said...

I'll second Alice In Chains "Dirt" CD and add the song "needles" by System Of A Down.

I'll also make mention of A Perfect Cirlce's "13th step" CD, especially the songs "the package", "a stranger" and "the nurse who loved me" which is a cover song originally by Failure.

Anonymous said...

A Perfect Circle - The Package ( I was at this show)

TMink said...

OK, Gummo, I am ashamed to admit that I have never heard the Iggy original of China Girl. But what is the internet for if not anonymous honesty. (Made myself laugh with that one!)

Still, thanks for pointing me in the right direction. And if Iggy sang it first, I am relatively sure that it is a drug song now!

And given our (speaking of most of us on this blog) love of all things Wayne, Bright Future in Sales is a humourous anti-drug song.


Anonymous said...

TMink said...
OK, Gummo, I am ashamed to admit that I have never heard the Iggy original of China Girl. But what is the internet for if not anonymous honesty. (Made myself laugh with that one!)

Oh don't mind me, I was just being a music snot.

And they did cowrite the song.

But really, Iggy's version, which came out years earlier (on Lust for Life, if I remember correctly?) has a demonic, possessed feel light years past Bowie's mannered remake. In fact, it's kinda like distilling the essence of Apolcalypse Now and The Ugly American into a 5 minute 'pop' song.

TMink said...

Hey Gummo, when you are right, you are right! It is not being a snot to educate me, I appreciated it pal.

Now I need to listen to the original version. I understand that the song Lust for Life is about scoring heroin. So there is another bit of circumstantial evidence for China Girl being about china white.


Anonymous said...

The Mighty Mighty Boss Tones' "Royal Oil" is worth an honorary mention, since you're having trouble coming up with recent examples.