Deep Cuts

Deep Cuts: Heroin Songs

Heroin-poster-1Heroin is some creepy shit.

Honestly, I think any recreational drug that requires paraphernalia is kind of creepy. We’re getting out of the “let’s have a little spontaneous fun” world and into a lifestyle at that point, and that seems like a slippery slope to me. Back in the ’70s the coke spoon on a gold necklace was a thing — addiction as fashion accessory. Weed people seem to really enjoy that, too.

On the other hand, I get the lure of the ritual. As a little boy I watched my grandfather roll his own cigarettes from loose tobacco and light them with a Zippo that he maintained — flint, wick, fuel. Smoking didn’t hold any interest for me, but that process certainly did.

But that’s a romantic view of smoking. The truth of the matter for most people is disposable lighters and shitty cigarettes smoked in the rain outside of drab office buildings, and it’s the same with heroin: The ritual sounds pretty cool, but the reality not so much. The ritual makes for great songs and visually arresting movie scenes, but the reality is nodding off, scratching yourself bloody, and picking at your scabs.

Anyway, heroin songs:

“Heroin,” Velvet Underground. This is the big daddy of heroin songs. You can stop right here — you’ve heard the best.

“Mr. Brownstone,” Guns N’ Roses. An oddly upbeat song about a drug that makes you sleepy.

“Times of Trouble,” Temple of the Dog. This entire album is pretty much one long eulogy for a heroin death, but here we get explicit spoons and needles.

“King Heroin,” James Brown. JB knew his drugs.

“Needle and the Spoon,” Lynyrd Skynyrd. One of my favorites from Skynyrd. The version on One More From the Road remains my favorite.

“Needle and the Damage Done,” Neil Young. Most poignant heroin song ever written? Discuss.

“Heroin,” Alice in Chains. This cut is better known by its final title, “The Real Thing.”

“Fire and Rain,” James Taylor. This song is about a lot of things, but Taylor’s battle with heroin is one of them.

So there you have it: eight songs about heroin. Did I miss any songs about dead flowers? I’m listening.


2 replies »

  1. “Cold Turkey” – John Lennon
    “Chinese Rock” – The Ramones
    “Dead Flowers” – The Rolling Stones
    and probably “Perfect Day” – Lou Reed


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