May 20, 2007

Heroin Addiction and Music - Part One

"Music is a beautiful opiate, if you don't take it too seriously."
~ Henry Miller

My posts on this blog are usually of a light-hearted nature, but sometimes a little seed on an idea is planted in my mind and, like it or not, I keep watering it until it grows into a blog post. I know exactly what I want to say, but it may take a few days to say it all. So here is part one.

The other night a friend mentioned Kurt Cobain. We talked about the impact Kurt's death had on a friend of his. Since then I've been thinking about the tragic connection between suicide, drug addiction and music. Call me "dark" but it intrigues me. I have a theory and believe it or not, Kurt had a similar one. I'm going to explore that theory here, even though this post probably belongs on one of my other blogs. I'll think about it.

For today I will leave you with two things:

- a paraphrased quote from Kurt that says, in his words, what I have been thinking about the last few days

- a list of songs about heroin

"Sometimes I envy people who are unintelligent and "easily amused". People, who are seemingly able to move through life without ever feeling sad or depressed. I've met a lot of those type of "dumb people,"they have a shitty job, they may be totally lonely...and yet, for some reason, they're happy."

I know there are a lot more, but these are ones that I like, my very favorite being:
"She Talks to Angels" — The Black Crowes

As always, I look forward to your comments. I plan on going into this more tomorrow and will inlcude a list of musicians that died of a heroin overdose or struggled with heroin addiction.


Bruce said...

I'll throw another couple of songs in there...
"That Smell"- Lynyrd Skynyrd
"The Needle Lies"- Queensryche(from Operation: Mindcrime)

When Layne Staley died from a heroin od, it hit me hard, as a music fan, because I'm such an AIC fan, but also, because Layne didn't have to die like he did. Whatever demons he had completely consumed him, and his inability to deal with them ultimately led to his death.

bob_vinyl said...

I never knew "There She Goes" was about heroin. Prince's "Sign O the Times" isn't only about heroin, but it is one of the social ills about which it complains.

Bruce - I remember reading an interview with Layne Staley probably at the height of AIC's popularity and he said he didn't understand why everything focused on him being a heroin addict (he didn't come out and say heroin, but it was implied). He didn't understand why no one wanted to talk about his music as they did about his addiction. There does seem to be a weird public fascination with celebrity self-destruction. Jerry Cantrell was the creative force in that band, but the vocal harmonies between Cantrell and Staley were probably the thing that made AIC stand out more than anything else.

Jeff said...

I don't listen to the Black Crowes that much although they seem like a great band, for some reason I can't get into them, but I never knew that "She Talks to Angels" is about that. I never actually looked into the lyrics, I guess just hearing the line "she talks to angels" made me think it was some sappy love song. Apparently not.

By the way, The Velvet Underground's "Heroin" is one of my most favorite songs...

urbanmonk said...

How bout an obvious one..

The Damage Done.. Neil young

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

I will add those to the list. That Skynrd song gives me the creeps, which is the sign of a good song.

Bob, EXACTLY! That's part of the point I am going to try to make. For a true artist, its all about the MUSIC, not who's dating who, who's the "best looking" or what drugs they are on...they want to be known for THE MUSIC (although some musicians seem to enjoy both, the real deep ones usually prefer to talk about the music not themselves).

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

Jeff, I had no idea what the song was about till I listened real carefully one day. I checked it out just to be sure, it's about a girl that is an obvious heroin addict but tries to hide it from everyone.

I just got into the Crowes about a year ago and am surprised how much I like them :)

That is the first song listed here, Sweetheart. You must have missed it. Can you play that one on guitar? If so, I'd love to hear it next time. I like it, even though its sad.

Bruce said...

The first time I heard "She Talks to Angels", I knew what it was about. But then again, I'm one of those who focuses on the words as much as the music; sometimes more.
I saw them open up for ZZ Top back in '91, and they pulled out the acoustic guitars when they did this song. It lent an entirely new feel to the song.

Bond said...

The Underground were the first rock band to openly sing about it, I believe, but think of the references throughout jazz and how many of those musicians were addicted, the most infamous being Billie Holiday

bob_vinyl said...

Yeah, jazz is full of smackheads. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Chet Baker.

Bruce said...

If you want to see a really good movie(at least to me) that delves into the connection between music and drugs, you need to check out the animated film "American Pop".

Paul said...

Spiritualized's album "Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space" was filled with love songs for Heroin. Junkies make beautiful music.

Kohaku said...

What about Needle in the Hay by Elliot Smith

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