Throughout the history of modern music, there have been a number of songs inspired by cars, women and exotic locales. But perhaps nothing has been as infamous as the songs about drug use. From Eric Clapton’s Cocaine, to the one-off hit of the 1980’s Pass the Dutchie, musicians have always been inspired to write about substance abuse. Heroin songs tend to be a bit more serious – covering subject matter that is considered taboo in many circles. Yet for many, heroin-related songs are the most realistic portrayal of drug use ever seen in mainstream media.
The following is a look at some of the most famous songs about heroin and heroin addiction.
Important Rock Songs about Heroin
- Mr. Brownstone. Guns n’ Roses. One of the lesser hits of their massive Appetite for Destruction album, Mr. Brownstone was an ode to the use of heroin on Hollywood Boulevard where the band got its start. The slang term for heroin used in the title only got more popular after its release.
- Fire and Rain. James Taylor. Many people mistakenly believe that this James Taylor classic is about surviving a plane crash. However, the actual subject matter was the singer’s own recovery from heroin addiction during the 1970’s.
- Under the Bridge. Red Hot Chili Peppers. This song was a huge hit for the seminal Los Angeles punk/funk band. The lyrics describe lead singer’s Anthony Kiedis’ life in the City of Angels and struggles with addiction to heroin.
- Lust for Life. Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Chronicled a day in the life of a heroin addict. The song became memorable after playing a prominent role in the heroin-related film Trainspotting.
- The Needle and the Damage Done. Neil Young. The title pretty much says it all. This is a sad, moving song written by Canadian Neil Young as a tribute to his friends who were lost to heroin overdose.
The Impact of Songs on Heroin
There are two schools of thought about drug-related content in popular music. Obviously, those songs that glorify the use of drugs such as cocaine and marijuana create a bad situation for parents trying to keep their kids from making bad decisions about drugs and alcohol. Most songs about heroin use, however, are cautionary tales that illustrate (sometimes in great detail) the perils of using the opiate. These heroin inspired songs should not be lumped together with anthems that urge young people to “get high and break things” and should instead be reconsidered as powerful works of poetry and personal art.