There are two things guaranteed to make excellent song fodder: the first is all-consuming, monstrous love. The second is being consumed by something of the chemical variety. For generations, songs have been written under the influence. From unshakable addictions to euphoric highs, here are the very best songs about drugs.
Blur – ‘Beetlebum’
Damon Albarn wrote Beetlebum about his experiences taking heroin with his then-girlfriend, Justine Frischmann of Elastica. The phrase “chasing the beetle” was used to refer to heroin use at the time and the song directly references that.
The Lemonheads – ‘My Drug Buddy’
This song taken from the impossibly-perfect ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’, details a relationship with someone born out of addiction. It’s a beautiful song about the people you love and the places you go when you’re high as a kite.
Sublime – ‘Pool Shark’
Bradley Nowell tragically succumbed to his heroin addiction in 1996, before Sublime became the household names they are today. ‘Pool Shark’ is a rare, pared-back gem in their catalogue: an acoustic track about addiction seeped in devastating raw emotion.
The 1975 – ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’
Matty Healy wrote ‘It’s Not Living…’ before entering rehab for heroin addiction in 2017.
Iggy Pop – ‘Lust For Life’
Thanks to Trainspotting, Iggy’s ‘Lust For Life’ will always be associated with heroin.
Lorde – ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’
Taken from Lorde’s divisive second album, ‘Solar Power’, ‘Stoned At The Nail Salon’, addresses the choices she’s made to slow down and live a simple life away from the [melo]drama and bright lights of the business.
QOTSA – ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’
There’s no cloaked meaning from Josh Homme on ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’, the Queens frontman demanding “Nicotine, valium, vicadin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol.”. Oh, and don’t forget the “C-C-C-Cocaaaaaaine”
Billie Eilish – ‘xanny’
Unlike so many of her peers, Billie Eilish does not see the appeal of Xanax. On ‘xanny’, she asks, “Don’t give me a xanny now or ever“. Smart girl.
The Wkend – ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’
The ultimate party anthem, on ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’, The Weeknd details a cokey night out.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – ‘White Lines (Don’t Do It)’
An anti-drug song at a time when rap music was all about living it large. In ‘White Lines…’, Melle Mel warns listeners of the pitfalls of cocaine and the class divide that surrounds it.
Elliot Smith – ‘Needle In The Hay’
One of Elliot Smith’s most heartbreaking songs, at first glance ‘Needle In The Hay’ seems to be about heroin, but in fact, perhaps Smith is using his dependency as a metaphor to explore other attachment issues.
Pulp – ‘Sorted Out For E’s & Wizz’
The ultimate singalong anthem, Jarvis knows that when you’re standing in a festival field with 20,000 people, then you better hope to hell you put the order in.
Notorious B.I.G. – ’10 Crack Commandments’
Think of this song like a masterclass in drug dealing. Here, Biggie shares some of his tips ‘n’ tricks for becoming a crack kingpin.