Rock and roll and substance abuse go hand-in-hand. So
many of our favorite musical idols have fallen prey to
drugs and drinking, either to come out the other side
or just plain dead. So be it. You made your money, you
hurt yourself. Good job. For those so inclined to live
it up in whatever grade of decadence you choose in your
own rock and roll lifestyle, here is a nice little mix
of songs with drinking as the central theme. Sometimes
it’s fun! Sometimes it’s sad. But in all these cases,
it makes for a great subject to sing about. There are
some obvious choices here, and hopefully a few maybe you’ve
never heard. So bottoms up. Don’t go ‘round thirsty, now.
"Say it Ain’t So," Weezer (Weezer)
Let’s kick off this collection with the saddest song in the batch. A warning shot to those who may fall privy to alcoholism, such as Rivers Cuomo’s dad. Maybe once people realize that alcoholism isn’t a real "disease" then everyone can get on with their shit. Just don’t be a lush, kids. It’s that simple.
"Let’s Go Get Stoned," Ray Charles (Anthology)
"Stoned" in this sense means "drunk." Here, Ray lays down one of his smoothest grooves ever and invites you to come over for a drink or two at his pad. In perfect Ray fashion, it’s got that whole gospel-like quality to it that only makes the song even more unbeatable. "When you work so hard all day long / And everything you do seems to go wrong / Just drop by my place on your way home / Let’s go get stoned." Awww yeah.
"Alcohol," Barenaked Ladies (Stunt)
I went through my own phase with this band, but this song remains a favorite of mine, even though I can’t really stand to listen to anything else of theirs anymore. A true anthem about embracing the emptiness and frivolity of booze and not giving a shit, even though deep down you really do. Would’ve been a much better single than that annoying "One Week."
"Drinkin’ Wine-Spo-Dee-O-Dee," Larry Dale
(Atlantic single, 1961)
This is a hot little number that my mom said she used to groove to at the local malt shop or whatever the hell they had back then. Maybe she was referring to Sticks McGhees’ version, though, as she would’ve been older than the malt shop crowd at the time Larry’s side was issued. Anyway, the best advice I ever heard came from this song: "You buy blackberry, you’re doin’ things smart." Jerry Lee Lewis also recorded this song, and his version sucks in comparison.
"What’s the Use of Getting Sober (When
You’re Gonna Get Drunk Again?)," Joe Jackson
Joe covers the Louis Jordan classic on this excellent album with much depravity. Young drinkers just getting into their tastes will undoubtedly appreciate this tune, especially when they’ve discovered the thrills of vicarious and sloppy drunkenness.
"The Sober Life," Heap (On the Cheap)
Heap sings an impassioned ode to not being very good at not being drunk. Hey, we’ve all been there at one time or another. Why sober up when you can feel like you’re riding on that cathartic boozy cloud? Oh yeah, the liver problems, the job, the girlfriend, and all that other stuff.
"Beer Money," Young Fresh Fellows (The
Men Who Loved Music)
The Fellows sing gleefully about being sponsored by a beer company and making all sorts of beer money. Scott McCaughey adds, "I’d even drink Pepsi if you paid me enough!" Good times, good times. After all they’re just, "an American band whose playin’ some rock and roll!"
"Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin," New Duncan
Imperials (The Hymns of Bucksnort)
Pigtail Dick lays it down loud and clear about getting one step closer to death every time he tips a bottle of booze. Yet he does it in such a fun way, with Goodtime supplying percussion with pretzel sticks on a plastic cup, and a vocal solo break that sounds like pure alcoholic goodness. Dig it.
"Plenty of Lovin’," The Nazz (Nazz
The Nazz’s third album is a mixed lot, but this stumbling drunk tune concerning a lothario and his abilities to love…after he has just one more drink…is plenty of fun. Todd Rundgren’s blistering blues solo in the break with Stewkey shouting his approval is well worth hearing. It’s corny as hell, but classic Nazz through and through.
"Too Drunk to Ball," Sweet Pie (Pleasure
Man, Sweet Pie was one scary dude. He apparently only recorded this one live album, doing his thing on the piano. He was a bearded freak who wore a loincloth. This is another one of those self-explanatory songs, but it gets better when you picture Sweet Pie in his cloth making a stain on the piano bench and performing it in front of the receptive crowd. By all means, find the image of the album cover online and just soak that in alone.
"Drink and Rock," The Unband (Retarder)
The Unband should’ve been bigger than big. With song like "Pink Slip," "Geez Louise," and this one, they should have conquered all. If you want a trashy tune about sleazy drinking mixed with rock and roll scum, then this is the track for you. The Unband tried to live that decadent larger-than-life rockstar thing. Whether or not they succeeded on that level is anyone’s guess. Bring us more, please.
"Gin and Juice," Snoop Doggy Dogg (Doggystyle)
I’m givin’ it props just because it features the sound of a guy pissing at the beginning. Now that’s entertainment, kids. Of course, this was also a mega-hit, introducing clean suburban kids to the whole idea of keepin’ their mind on their money and their money on their mind while getting trashed and screwing many chicks in the span of an evening. Sheeeeit.
"Underneath the Bottle," Lou Reed (The
My man Lou was going through his getting off the booze phase when he recorded this. In true Lou fashion, it’s not a plea for sympathy, but just how it is, man. And how can you go wrong when he sings, "Ooh ooh whee / Son of a B!" Yes, he literally sings that just to make the rhyme. Lou, I love ya just because you were never afraid to do dumb shit like that.
"Alcoholiday," Teenage Fanclub (Bandwagonesque)
The Fanclub make everything sound serene and fun, even if it’s not. Here, they take that Big Star influence and drain it once again and make you swoon all over and want to go on an alcoholiday with them. Get onboard the booze cruise.
"Anonymous Alcoholic," 10cc (Bloody
Let’s close this mix with this little number that will allow you to leave the premises unknown. ‘Cause you know, sometimes when the drinking gets going strong and on and on, you need to do it in the shadows. You need to be discreet. You need some 10cc. And what you need, you’ve got. Amen.