Scott Weiland died and we’re all sad for what he should have been were it not for his disturbingly strong addiction. There have been numerous artists lost to drugs throughout the years, and a few were even prescient enough to pen songs that foretold their demise. Here are a few that came to my mind today.
We’ll start with the obvious. Bradley Knowell and Pool Shark there are two iterations of the song, one heavy and one acoustic. I prefer heavy, so you will find it below. If you prefer acoustic, find it here.
Elliott Smith’s eponymous album from 1995 was deep in the weeds of depression and destructive drug tendencies. None clearer than Needle in the Hay that plays at the multiple personalities that are the sober versus the addict inside of one user and the blurring of the division as the addiction gets more control.
Next we start walking down the line of watching your buddies die from the stuff and seeing your other buddy start to lose his hold on it. Jerry Cantrell wrote a hell of a song in Would? largely from losing his friend Andrew Wood to heroin, but the lines clearly hold symbolism past the singular, and past-tense, death of Wood and start to stare directly at Layne. Though I feel like Don’t Follow has some element to this, that one has always felt like it was about suicide than addiction. Maybe because I was dealing with a friend’s suicide around the same time that it came onto the scene. I know Junkhead is the quintessential heroin-user song, but it’s been so misinterpreted by many who actually think it has a “pro” drug vibe that I wanted to leave it out o avoid the discussion. It ain’t pro-drug, and I’ll leave it at that. So back to the song, Jerry nailed it here:
Then you get to Shannon Hoon, an artist I easily respect as one of the greats of his time if not ever and I feel the world would have realized this had he lived long enough to ply his craft. In the song Change he nails a few lyrics that peg your heart to a wall. “And oh as I fade away/they’ll all look at me and say, and they’ll say/Hey look at him! I’ll never live that way”
I could include the entire album Sparkle&Fade by Everclear. The lyrics tell of a guy who is dealing with death, addiction and depression and is looking for anything that remotely resembles an escape. It is a brilliant album and was probably cathartic for Art Alexakis’ bad habits in a way. Maybe the deep pit the lyrics took him to were enough to snap him out of it and ultimately save the guy. He lost his brother and girlfriend to overdoses, inspiring the following:
If you’ve made it this far, you know 1. who the Red hot Chilli Peppers are and 2. that they had a hell of a run with drugs. Under The Bridge was a poem originally penned by Kiedis about his city and what he felt walking through it going to score heroin. It’s from the recovering side, but the lyrics slip between him on the street and him present-day talking about how he never wants to go back to that.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, obviously many, many artists have been lost, or influenced by their addictions, but it’s a look at a tumultuous time in the 90s when everything seemed to be a heroin-fueled angst-fest that destroyed some brilliant artists chasing a cheap thrill.
So that was thoroughly uplifting. Don’t do drugs guys.