When you think of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, cocaine is probably at least one of the drugs you think of. Celebrities, musicians included, have a reputation for snorting coke at their Hollywood parties, as well as in their daily lives — and they’re not afraid to sing about it. Here are some of the most notable cocaine references in music, both obscured and obvious.
“Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd
This one falls into the “obvious” category. If you’ve ever done coke, you probably don’t need me to explain the meaning of this song. It’s right in the title: The Weeknd has ingested so much cocaine that he has lost sensation in his face. Indeed, the drug’s numbing properties are so significant, medical professionals have used it as an anesthetic. Still, “Can’t Feel My Face” can also be interpreted as a love song about numbing yourself to the pain of heartbreak, with lyrics like, “And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb.” Perhaps he is literally using cocaine to forget about the pain this relationship has caused him, because it numbs him emotionally as well. Deep stuff here.
“Casey Jones” by The Grateful Dead
This song describes famous railroad engineer Casey Jones “driving that train high on cocaine,” although there’s no evidence that he actually used cocaine during his fatal crash. Nevertheless, cocaine was a major influence behind the music. “I always thought it’s a pretty good musical picture of what cocaine is like,” Jerry Garcia said of the song in an interview for the book Garcia: A Signpost to New Space. “A little bit evil. And hard-edged. And also that sing-songy thing, because that’s what it is, a sing-songy thing, a little melody that gets in your head.”
“The White Lady Loves You More” by Elliott Smith
With lyrics about a loved one ditching the narrator for cocaine, this track is as depressing as you’d expect from Elliott Smith. Some have speculated that the “white lady” is actually heroin, as Smith’s addiction to heroin is extensively documented. Either way, it gives a raw and emotional account of what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone addicted to drugs.
“The Girl You Lost to Cocaine” by Sia
Sia shows the other side of being in a relationship with a coke addict by singing about leaving a partner who can’t get their shit together as the drug takes over their life. Gigwise called it a “strong, confident, infectiously melodic and immensely hummable romp through the highs and lows of Sia’s unique character and upbeat independence.”
“This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I’m On This Song” by System of a Down
This song doesn’t actually mention cocaine, though it implies it in lines like “we’re crying for our next fix,” interspersed between nonsense lyrics like “Gonorrhea gorgonzola” — perhaps the way one would talk on coke, with their thoughts racing haphazardly from word to word? The title reverses a common narrative about music making you feel like you’re on drugs, potentially conveying how high the band gets off music itself.
“Coke Babies” by Radiohead
These lyrics are so cryptic, it’s hard to say if the song is really about coke: “Easy living, easy hold / Easy teething, easy fold / Easy listening, easy love / Easy answers to easy questions / Easy tumble, easy doll / Easy rumble, easy fall / I get up on easy love / I get up on easy questions.” That’s it. For all we know, it’s about Coca-Cola. Reddit seems to agree that the meaning is a mystery, but it’s nevertheless one of the band’s most haunting and underrated songs, released as a b-side to the 1993 Pablo Honey single “Anyone Can Play Guitar.”
“Master of Puppets” by Metallica
This brutal depiction of drug addiction seems to be written from the perspective of the coke itself, with lyrics like “Taste me you will see / More is all you need” and “I’m pulling your strings / Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams.” It could be any addictive drug, though lines like “chop your breakfast on a mirror” suggest that it is, in fact, about cocaine.