Songs about addiction capture the ambiance of hardship better than any other art form. Here is a list of tunes that have covered the emotional topic throughout pop culture history.
Sharing Addiction Pain Through Music
Lou Reed: “Perfect Day”
The Velvet Underground singer made waves in 1972 when he released this haunting single that explored his dependency on heroin. Its chilling chords still get radio play today!
Nine Inch Nails: “Hurt”
This painful recording captures Trent Reznor’s personal struggle with illicit chemical injections. In the heart-wrenching song that has even been covered by Johnny Cash, he directly references the harm caused by a needle.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Under the Bridge”
In one of the most iconic songs from the 1990s, Anthony Kiedis sings about the hopelessness and homelessness induced by drug culture. Abject misery is conveyed too accurately.
Eminem: “My Mom”
Slim Shady personally addressed his dark past on this distressed track. The lyrics focus on Marshall Mather’s childhood, and how his mother created his lifelong habit of Valium abuse.
Pink Floyd: “Wish You Were Here”
This iconic single from the hippie era looks into the band’s loss of their former lead singer, Syd Barrett. He quit the group before they got really famous, and his absence was blamed on an addiction to psychedelics. After taking copious hallucinogens, his mental stability was permanently lost.
Primus: “Harold of the Rocks”
There have not been many bands brave enough to tackle the issue of crack-cocaine, but Les Claypool’s funk metal outlet wrote a scathing tune about those who use the substance. The track came out in 1990, but the band keeps talking about drug abuse to this day. In 2011, they penned another piece entitled “Jilly’s on Smack.”
Marilyn Manson: “I Don’t Like the Drugs, but the Drugs Like Me”
This one is pretty self-explanatory; in fact, no other song captures the denial mechanism of addiction better! The king of metal is unabashed about his drug abuse here.
Robert Johnson: “Stop Breaking Down”
Songs about drug addiction go way back. One of the earliest recordings about the topic originated in the 1920s. Blues legend Robert Johnson wrote this masterpiece about the perils of snorting. The chorus goes: “The stuff I got is going to bust your brains out, it’s there to make you lose your mind.” Of course, Johnson’s struggles with the underbelly of society caused him to die at age 27.
The Beatles: “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide, Except for Me and My Monkey”
The Fab Four themselves have also dealt with addiction. This song from “The White Album” cleverly applied an old English colloquialism to discuss heroin. This old saying claimed that a chemical dependency is akin to having a monkey on one’s back wreaking havoc. After the band split up, John Lennon later expounded on his troubles with his solo release of “Cold Turkey.”
Amy Winehouse: “Rehab”
This is probably the most recognized addiction tune of the last decade. The soulful diva proudly sang about her refusal to attend rehab. Sadly, drug use and alcohol dependency ultimately cut her life short. This track is a reminder of the fact that inpatient facilities save lives by providing a safe environment for safe detoxification.