Saturday, September 3, 2011

Top 5 Songs About Drugs

I am not advocating the use of drugs. However, if you are using drugs, I recommend listening to these songs while doing so.

Not that I ever have.


The buildup and peak of this song make a perfect concoction for a multitude of possible trips. The music itself is dark and twisted, jumping from soft drumbeats under melodic vocals to strong, thumping riffs with shouted vocals, but the lyrics themselves are calming and poetic. The juxtaposition of soothing lyrics and their raw vocalisation (listen especially to the bridge with the lyrics, "The whisper is but a shout / That's what it is all about / Yes, the ecstasy, you can pray / You will never let it slip away"), and the difference in energy between each verse and bridge -- these two aspects perform together perfectly to make an unforgettable experience. Being able to portray all of this in the form of a song is a pretty incredible feat.


There is always the dispute of what this song was originally about when Reznor first penned it -- is it a suicide note, a song for depression, or a song finding reason to live? There are definitely references to self-harm, and the poignant lyric, "The needle tears a hole / The old familiar sting", allows the song to be relevant in my list.

I, like many, many people in the world, prefer this version to the original N.I.N. version, and it's all because of Cash's voice. His baritone gives an extreme melancholy to the song that was less apparent in the original, and (my apologies) the lack of Reznor's whining gives it a lot more feeling. I do hope you know what I mean by that -- in no way am I insulting Trent Reznor, 'cos I think he's very talented, but you must admit that his voice gets a little bit of a whine in there sometimes. Without it, it makes the song better. That's all I'm saying.

Something else that gives Cash's version that little something extra is the minor change in lyrics. The N.I.N. radio edit had the line "crown of shit" changed to "crown of thorns", a change that Cash kept when recording his cover. This change reflects his strong Christian beliefs, and his request for forgiveness from his sins. It adds an extra element of sadness to a song that is pretty much already weeping.

This is quite obviously a song for a low-energy trip, uppers and hallucinogenics not recommended unless you want to kill yourself.


There is a lot less for me to talk about in this song: it's the same melody for five verses, no change in tone or content and... well, actually that's it. But it's a song about how much she loves weed. I don't see how that's a problem.


"[Purple Haze] was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea." - Jimi Hendrix.

Of course, this is the quintessential psychedelic drug song of the 60s, possibly of all time. For all intents and purposes it should be number one on this list, but since I'm writing about my favourites, it's taking second place.

The song is a trip inside your mind to a place of uncertainty, and rides on the feeling of infamiliarity that comes from copious amounts of LSD. 'Purple Haze' has been a term for acid since as far back as the 19th century, so there is no denying the drug influence in this song ("Purple haze all in my brain / Lately things just don't seem the same"). Starting off quickly on a simple but upbeat note before accelerating into Hendrix's trademark mind-bending guitar solos, the song plays with what would already be an altered take on reality, allowing the listener to fully understand what mastery is -- whether under an influence or not.


"Sometimes you feel you need [somebody] ... the whole universe tells you that you have to have her, you start watching her favorite TV shows all night, you start buying her the things she needs, you start drinking her drinks, you start smoking her bad cigarettes, you start picking up her nuances in her voice, you sleep in safe sometimes the most dangerous thing... this is called Mojo Pin." -- Jeff Buckley.

Buckley at first wrote the song as an interpretation of his addiction to a woman he dreamed about ("black beauty"), and through a mass of lyrical images, he sings about the pains of addiction in all forms.

A common feature in the songs in this list is the rise and fall, leading up to the peak of both the song and the high. This song is no different. The beginning of the song is melodic with beautiful guitar in the background with Buckley's emotional singing voice, building up to a pained and impassioned final chorus ("Don't want to weep for you, don't want to know / I'm blind and tortured, the white horses flow / The memories fire, the rhythms fall slow / Black beauty, I love you so"). He is expressing great love for his addiction, while at the same time his frustration and wish to be unburdened is clear as well. The song is both love and hatred, for both his addiction and himself.

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