Year: 2022
Original Format: mp3

I should probably warn you in advance that parts of this are kind of a downer. It’s a collection of drug songs, most of them of the cautionary variety. Some parts are funny and others go to dark places. I’m not really sure what compelled me to make such a thing — maybe just to feel better about my own bad habits — but I did, so here it is.

Playlist:

On the Blink Again/Smashed Blocked (excerpt)/World Without Time Stephen Moore/John’s Children/Michael O’Donoghue
Clipped from, respectively: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show; a single by John’s Children, “a 1960s mod rock band from Leatherhead, England that briefly featured future T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan” (says Wikipedia); and National Lampoon’s Radio Dinner.

One Toke over the Line Brewer & Shipley
True fact: In 1971, this song was performed on The Lawrence Welk show. Apparently neither Mr. Welk nor anyone who worked with him knew what a “toke” was; or maybe there was a closet hippie on the staff chortling quietly the whole time? At the end he calls it a “modern spiritual,” which it is I guess.

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Those Goddamn Bats Jim Jarmusch & Maury Chaykin
“Two years before critics pummeled the 1998 screen version of Hunter S. Thompson’s tale of drug madness in Sin City, this audio rendition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas brought the ugly story to life. Fans of the book might prefer this recording to the film since it preserves more of Thompson’s high-octane narrative. With Jim Jarmusch and Harry Dean Stanton sharing the Thompson/Raoul Duke role, this CD brings to life some of the book’s more shocking scenes, making all too real what was merely amusing on the page.” —Steve Appleford

Reverbaration (Doubt) 13th Floor Elevators
This song was covered by both ZZ Top and the Jesus and Mary Chain on Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye, the greatest tribute record ever made.

Stoned Deaf National Lampoon
It’s a dumb joke, but a good one nonetheless.

Pot Party (excerpt 1) Teenage Rebellion
Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Pat Trip-Dispenser The Fall
“Pat Clark was a friend of mine, an amusing character on the music scene. He died of AIDS in the late-80’s. He was The Fall’s road manager on a couple of US jaunts. He lived in an apartment above Maxwell’s, which was so-named because it was a block from the Maxwell House Coffee factory in Hoboken. Among his many hustles, Pat would buy powdered caffeine from one of the workers there, residue from the decaffeinating process. He’d stuff it into capsules and sell it as speed (yes, pretty sleazy) and Mark E. Smith wrote the song about him.” —Guy E.

Mr. Pharmacist The Other Half
“Composed by singer Jeff Nowlen, ‘Mr. Pharmacist’ was released in November 1966 but wasn’t a big seller – perhaps its barely veiled drug references were too daring for the time. ‘Mr. Pharmacist’ is similar to Count Five’s ‘Psychotic Reaction, released a few months earlier, but it stands on its own as a great pop tune. Many younger listeners may have heard The Fall’s 1986 cover before the original. The Fall’s version is tougher sounding but Jeff Nowlen’s vocal is surprisingly similar to The Fall’s acerbic Mark E. Smith. Nowlen often adds an ‘uh’ to the end of each sentence, just like Smith.” —Albumreviews.blog

Brown Strychnine John Belushi
This is from National Lampoon’s Lemmings, which is about a Woodstock-type festival where everyone commits suicide. This is comedy, mind you. The irony of John Belushi talking about killing yourself with drugs is self-evident.

Strychnine The Sonics
“Strychnine is a bitter, white, powder alkaloid derived from the seeds of the tree Strychnos nux-vomica. It has had an interesting past, initially having been introduced in the 16th century as a rodenticide, and until recently it was used as a respiratory, circulatory and digestive stimulant. It is no longer used in any pharmaceutical products, but is still used as a rodenticide. Strychnine is also found as an adulterant in street drugs such as amphetamines, heroin and cocaine.” —Biomedcentral.com

New Kind of Kick The Cramps
”Unique, immense, unattainable, thank you for everything, may the God of desperate people & rock and roll always have you in glory …. R.I.P. [Lux Interior]” —YouTube commenter Marco Casas

Pot Party (excerpt 2) Teenage Rebellion
This guy has absolutely no idea what the fuck he’s talking about, but he is quite adamant.

Acid Stu Mitchell
I found this on a compilation called Only in America, where it was included for kitsch value. But I find it genuinely haunting. A little cheeseball, maybe, but somehow that only makes it more powerful.

Bass Strings Country Joe & the Fish
“‘At a certain time in 1966, when we performed “Bass Strings,” I thought we were gonna get busted for singing a song about smoking marijuana,’ [Country Joe] McDonald remembered. The title was an inside-joke reference to Country Joe and the Fish band members’ code for pot, used once or twice. It originated, not surprisingly, with the bassist, Bruce Barthol. ‘We had basically made a declaration. The song stated that we all smoked weed, which was a felony,’ Barthol says…. None of this would much matter today if ‘Bass Strings’ were just an underground novelty song, the sort of thing Country Joe and company would later mine. It is much more. With dreamlike sonics built around a slithery bass run, timpani-style drums and a foundation of minor chords, it remains a highlight of one of the first and best psychedelic albums ever made.” —Psychedelicsight.com

Waiting Around to Die Townes Van Zandt
“The 2005 documentary, Be Here to Love Me by Margaret Brown, traced through Van Zandt’s life and work and included countless interviews with musical contemporaries like Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Guy Clark and Willie Nelson, as well as close friends and family. His first wife Fran Petters detailed how Van Zandt wrote the haunting tune inside their walk-in closet of their Houston, Texas home. ‘He would sit in there for hours. You’d have to remind him it was dinnertime to get him to come out,’ she said. ‘That was when he wrote “Waitin’ Around to Die,” which was the first song… I was twenty years old – a newlywed – and “Waiting ‘Round to Die” wasn’t exactly… I was expecting a love ballad or something.’” —Americansongwriter.com

Cod’ine Quicksilver Messenger Service
When the “Summer of Love Experience” ran at the DeYoung Museum in SF in 2017, they had a chill-out room with beanbag chairs where you could rest and recuperate before plunging back into the exhibits. (This is a genius idea; every museum should have one.) That’s where I first heard this, which is hardly conducive to chilling out, but a hell of a tune.

Bob Is Here John Belushi
Another clip from Lemmings, which by the way ends with a song by a band called “Megadeath” that kills anyone left in the audience.

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Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again Bob Dylan
When my dad used to listen to this song, I never thought I would myself put it on voluntarily. By my count there are nine verses, but it might as well be ninety; that used to be torture. But now I love it.

Ask President Carter Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray & Tom Davis
For decades I misremembered the key line here as “You’re a human being on the surface of planet Earth and you’re very safe.” I kind of like my version better, but still, this is peak Aykroyd.

Dreams The Allman Brothers Band
This is not explicitly a drug song, but honestly, isn’t every song written in 1969 kind of a drug song?

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