10 of the Most Famous Songs About Drugs
Drugs have been the cornerstone of many of very famous songs in music and here are ten of the most notable.
‘Mr. Brownstone’ – Guns N’ Roses
From the 1987 album ‘Appetite for Destruction’
During that low period of the 1980’s when popular music was ruled by sugary pop and hair metal, Guns N’ Roses was able to break through and remind music fans that the purpose of rock ‘n’ roll was to straddle the fence in between glamour and grit. ‘Mr. Brownstone’ is the song from their catalog that exemplifies this the most, with heroin addiction being simultaneously lamented and celebrated.
From the 1976 album ‘Presence’
In terms of debauchery, no one from Led Zeppelin could rightfully wag a finger at any outsider. However Robert Plant, who was newly reflective at the time, felt he needed to address the widespread use of cocaine that was going around the rock music scene at the time with a slow-mo grooving song.
‘Sister Morphine’ – the Rolling Stones
From the 1971 album ‘Sticky Fingers’
‘Sister Morphine‘ was originally the B-side for a single released by Marianne Faithfull. It is one of the more disturbing songs ever written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Jagger delivers some of his most desperate vocals, wailing about crawling over the floor, morphine, cocaine and faceless doctors. Ry Cooder’s menacing slide guitar adds to the jarring essence of the song.
‘Cold Turkey’ – John Lennon
Lennon was always more than willing to expose himself in his songs. In the song ‘Cold Turkey,’ Lennon offers an unflinchingly honest look at breaking his heroin addiction. Things start to get terrifying when he finally beings to lose during the final minute of the song with a series of haunting moans and wails.
‘Gold Dust Woman’ – Fleetwood Mac
From the 1977 album ‘Rumors’
When you look back at it down, it is somewhat of a shock that the ‘Rumors’ album by Fleetwood Mac is consider to have a soft-rock reputation. The album was recorded by five individuals who at the time were spiraling completely out of control, with drug abuse, personal conflicts and crumbling relationships. In the closing song of the album, Stevie Nick attempts to make sense of all of drug use and emotional chaos surrounding her with ‘Gold Dust Woman,’ which is by far the darkest cut on the entire album.
‘White Rabbit’ – Jefferson Airplane
From the 1967 album ‘Surrealistic Pillow’
Although drug use wasn’t officially being advocated by Jefferson Airplane in their counterculture classic song ‘White Rabbit,’ it was definitely a major anthem for the blossoming drug scene of that era. A mixture of Lewis Carroll and hallucinogenics will definitely do that to you. One song of many based on the book.
‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ – The Beatles
From the 1967 album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’
People have always speculated whether ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ is really about LSD. The songwriter, John Lennon claimed the song was inspired by a drawing made by his son Julian. However, the lyrics about kaleidoscope eyes and looking-glass ties definitely makes us skeptical about these claims.
‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ – Neil Young
From the 1972 album ‘Harvest’
This might be among the first precautionary songs regarding drug use appearing on a hit album during the early 1970’s. It was written by Neil Young and Danny Whitten, who were both band members of Crazy Horse. At that point Whitten’s heroin addiction had gone completely out of control. Within a year of the release of ‘Harvest’ Whitten was dead.
‘Sweet Leaf’ – Black Sabbath
From the 1971 album ‘Masters of Reality’
This was the opening song on the album, and is ultimate stoner jam, starting with the looped cough of Tony Tommi (presumably from having ingested too much devil’s lettuce). The song then launches into one of the all time heaviest riffs. In the meantime, Ozzy Osbourne is singing about how puffing every once in a while has positive effects. It’s not the only thing that does.
‘Heroin’ – The Velvet Underground
From the 1967 album ‘The Velvet Underground’
By the time 1967 rolled round, it wasn’t uncommon for songs to make reference to LSD and marijuana. However, no one was prepared for this seven-minute up and down roller-coaster ride of song about using heroin. Nobody ever needs to ride the white horse after they hear this classic from Lou Reed and Velvet Underground – which encompasses the pang of despair in addition to the rush of euphoria