Heroin in music
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The well-known jazz artist Miles Davis was a heroin addict from about 1950 to 1954. John Lennon wrote the song "Cold Turkey" in 1969 about his and Yoko Ono's attempts to get off the drug. Another 1969 song, David Bowie's first single "Space Oddity", was seemingly about his experiences with heroin, as his 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes" included the lines that refer to Major Tom as "...a junkie/strung out on heaven's high/hitting an all-time low".
The Rolling Stones' 1973 song "Coming Down Again" was written by Keith Richards about his experiences with heroin, as was "Before They Make Me Run". Mick Jagger wrote the song "Monkey Man", and with Marianne Faithfull wrote "Sister Morphine". The band's 1971 album Sticky Fingers featured a drug reference in every track.
A number of songs by the Velvet Underground refer to heroin, including "I'm Waiting For The Man" and the aptly-named "Heroin". Some critics declared the band were glorifying the use of drugs-mainly heroin.
The Stranglers' single "Golden Brown", from the late 1970s, referred to a batch of brown heroin from Afghanistan that arrived in the UK around that time. Another UK band, The Only Ones released a one hit wonder, "Another Girl, Another Planet", in which every single line could be interpreted as a reference to a girl or heroin."
Dee Dee Ramone (Nee Douglas Colvin) of the US punk band The Ramones used the drug and wrote the song "Chinese Rocks", though the rest of the band initially rejected the song as being too blatantly about drug use. The Heartbreakers performed the first and more famous version of the song. The songs "Mr. Brownstone" and "Bad Obsession" by Guns N' Roses also deal with heroin.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have numerous drug references in their music, most famously "Under the Bridge", a song about Anthony Kiedis's experiences in the chicano-run areas of Los Angeles where he used to score. "Knock Me Down" was another Red Hot Chili Peppers song about heroin, this time about the band's first guitarist Hillel Slovak who died after overdosing on a mix of cocaine and heroin. The metal/rock band System of a Down wrote the song "She's Like Heroin". Also, Black Sabbath wrote a song, "Hand of Doom", which talks about the negative effects of heroin.
The A Perfect Circle song "Weak and Powerless" is about heroin addiction, as is The Darkness song "Givin' Up" from their debut album Permission to Land. Nikki Sixx also wrote a song about his heroin addiction, which is included on their 1987 album "Girls, Girls, Girls" titled "Dancing on Glass" and the hit "Kickstart My Heart" was written about a Heroin overdose by Nikki Sixx. Sixx also formed a band to create a soundtrack to his book "The Heroin Diaries" called Sixx:A.M. American folksinger John Prine wrote the song "Sam Stone", which follows the title character's history from being prescribed morphine for a war wound to his eventual death from heroin addiction. It contains the very haunting line, "there's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes".
Ville Valo, frontman of Finnish rock band HIM, wrote "Killing Loneliness" about Brandon Novak's addiction to heroin. In an interview Valo stated that when he asked Novak why he used the drug, Novak replied "It was my way of 'Killing Loneliness'"
Suede recorded many songs about heroin, and drug culture in general. They have two different songs, Heroine (from Dog Man Star) and Heroin (b-side to the Attitude single), which refer to lead singer Brett Anderson's addiction to the drug.
The Used song, "Let It Bleed" refers to frontman, Bert McCracken's heroin addiction before the band started. The song starts with "This poison's my intoxication, I broke the needle off in my skin". Another song by The Used that also refer McCracken's past addiction to crystal meth is "Say Days Ago" from their debut album The Used.
Post-hardcore band Silverstein's song "My Heroine" tells the story of a drug addict, who finds that the high he gets from drugs quickly dies out and becomes panic and nausea. He personifies the drug as a beautiful woman, hence the double-entendre title.
80's pop superstar Boy George was caught up in using heroin which was highly publicized in the media. He also wrote and recorded a song of his experience with the drug titled "You Are My Heroin" in 1988.
Rozz Williams' final album before his suicide, The Whorse's Mouth, dealt with his heroin addiction. Kill Hannah's song "Lips Like Morphine" (from their album of the same name) refers to the lead singer's want of an addictive woman that will "knock" him out with one touch.
The Neil Young song "The Needle and the Damage Done" deals with the fallout from heroin addiction and its effects on the lives of loved ones.
- "I'm Waiting for the Man", "Heroin" and "Sister Ray" by The Velvet Underground
- "Perfect Day" by Lou Reed
- "Space Oddity", "The Bewlay Brothers" and "China Girl" by David Bowie
- "Dead Flowers", "Sister Morphine" and "Monkey Man" by The Rolling Stones
- "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers
- "Aux enfants de la chance" and "My Lady Heroine" by Serge Gainsbourg
- "Chinese Rocks" by Johnny Thunders and Dee Dee Ramone
- "Cold Turkey" by John Lennon
- "China Girl" by Iggy Pop
- "The Needle and the Damage Done" by Neil Young
- "I Believe in You" by Talk Talk