Heroin is not a drug you fuck around with. It is not a drug you joke about. But it is a drug you can sing about — and one that many people have sung about, in fact. From 50 Cent to the Rolling Stones, here are some songs shedding light on all the different dimensions of one of the world’s most addictive and life-consuming drugs.
“Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” by the Dandy Warhols
This fun track is actually very morbid, leaving no doubt as to what it’s about with the opening line, “I never thought you’d be a junkie because heroin is so passe.” Apparently, it’s not, because the song topped charts when it came out in 1997. In case the lyrics aren’t macabre enough, the video features dancing needles and gravestones — an odd juxtaposition with the colorful scenery and exuberant dancing.
“Needle in the Hay” by Elliott Smith
This gorgeously haunting song seems to tell the story of Smith’s own heroin addiction, with the “needle in the hay” representing the needle he’d shoot up with. “The White Lady Loves You More,” off the same self-titled album, is also debatably about heroin and/or cocaine.
“Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis has said that this song was about a low point in his heroin addiction, when he shot up under a bridge in LA, and his desire to never be in that place again. The last verse gives away the meaning: “Under the bridge downtown / Is were I drew some blood / Under the bridge downtown / I could not get enough / Under the bridge downtown / Forgot about my love / Under the bridge downtown / I gave my life away.”
“Pool Shark” by Sublime
In this incredibly depressing song, Sublime’s frontman Bradley Nowell sings, “Now I’ve got the needle / And I can’t bleed, but I can’t breathe / Take it away and I want more and more.” The last line — “one day I’m gonna lose the war” — eerily foreshadows Nowell’s 1996 death from a heroin overdose.
“A Baltimore Love Thing” by 50 Cent
50 Cent sings about struggling to detox from heroin here, personifying the drug as if it were an on-and-off lover. “Let’s make a date, promise you’ll come to see me / Even if it means you have to sell ya mama’s TV,” he raps. Formerly a drug dealer, 50 Cent has said that he has managed to become drug-free.
“Heroin Girl” by Everclear
“I can hear them talking in the real world / But they don’t understand that I’m losing myself / In a white-trash hell / Lost inside a heroin girl,” declares Everclear’s lead singer Art Alexakis. Like most songs on this list, this one ends morbidly: “They found her out in the fields / About a mile from home / Her face was warm from the sun / But her body was cold / I heard a policeman say / Just another overdose.”
“I’m Waiting For The Man” by The Velvet Underground
“The man” in this song is ostensibly a heroin dealer, who’s “got the works, gives you sweet taste / Ah then you gotta split because you got no time to waste.” Lou Reed later told Rolling Stone that “everything about that song holds true, except the price” — $26, in case you’re wondering.