HIGH NOTES: 7 Songs About Cocaine That Will Make It Hard to Feel Your Face

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.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Bandcamp Donates to ACLU, Shea Stadium & More

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Courtesy of bandcamp.com

  • Today, 100% of Bandcamp Proceeds Go To ACLU

    While many artists are already pledging that the profits from their album purchase will be donated to a charity, Bandcamp has one-upped them all (not that philanthropy is a contest, because as long as people are contributing, everybody wins). Today, any proceeds the website makes will go to the ACLU. So get online, buy some great music, and support one of the most important organizations ever!

  • Musical Responses To The #MuslimBan

    Last Friday Trump signed an executive order forcing airports to detain and deport immigrants and refugees entering from seven Muslim-majority countries, regardless of their immigration status. Protestors, lawyers and the taxi drivers weren’t having it. Neither were many musicians, who responded in various ways. Grimes and Sia announced they would match donations made to the Council on American-Islam Relations and the ACLU. Ethically questionable ride-share app Uber turned off surge pricing during a JFK taxi strike protesting the ban, which many interpreted as a way to profit from the taxi drivers’ act of solidarity. In response, “Uber Everywhere” artist Madeintyo said he would be switching to Lyft.

    As for actual music, Spotify compiled a playlist of 20 songs from artists who were once refugees, including Queen, Regina Spektor, M.I.A and the Fugees. We also recommend NPR’s Music In Exile series, which tells the stories of musicians who are refugees.


  • Shea Stadium Begins To Relocate Shows

    With several events abruptly canceled thanks to police and fire departments raids, the DIY venue in industrial Bushwick is closing, hopefully temporarily. The venue’s Facebook page states: “In the face of recent challenges we’ll be dark for the next two weeks as we restructure and plan for the future.” Scheduled shows are being postponed and/or relocated to nearby venues, such as The Gateway, Silent Barn and Trans-Pecos. 2016 took a lot of important venues away; hopefully Shea Stadium won’t be 2017’s first casualty.

  • Other Highlights

    Bey is having twins, RIP Geoff Nicholls of Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop contributes spoken word to the new PINS EP, Listen to Future Islands’ new song “Ran” and Blondie’s new song “Fun,” Beach House are releasing a b-sides compilation and touring, and whether you hate or love football, check out this alternate Super Bowl performance featuring the feline version of Lady Gaga.

INTERVIEW: Pearl and the Beard

Pearl and the Beard

Pearl and the Beard are some of Brooklyn’s finest, the pearl in our oyster. The band consists of Jocelyn Mackenzie (vocals, drums, percussion) Emily Hope Price (vocals, cello, keyboards) and Jeremy Lloyd-Styles (vocals, guitars, percussion) who all met an An open mic night. As a hint of what’s to come for their much anticipated forthcoming album, Pearl and The Beard recently released their new single “You,” a fuzzy-love pop rock track that will have your heart glowing and your booty bouncing.

Shortly after their sold out show at Rough Trade, we spoke with Jocelyn about their upcoming third album, drunk voicemails, and self-love. “It’s humbling and overwhelming to feel the love of hundreds of people directed at you all at once, like a giant Care Bear Stare being rainbowed directly into your heart. That’s a high we’ll ride on for a long, long time.”


AudioFemme: How did the three of you meet?

Jocelyn Mackenzie: Open mic nights. That shit works!

AF: What are your favorite words used to describe your sound?

JM: Intense, cinematic, sexy… we love feeling powerful through our music and it’s amazing when other people feel that too!

AF: What was the inspiration behind “You?”

JM: My husband left me a (drunk) voicemail one night while we were away on tour, ‘I love you! Get it through your f*!king skull!’ I thought it was really sweet that he was so determined to profess his love for me that it made him angry. It’s funny that the ones we love the most usually need the most convincing of that, so we turned that feeling of raw desperation into a chorus and verse.

AF: Who is the “You” in the song?

JM: Well, originally it was my husband, but as the song grows and takes shape, I also relate it as someone speaking to him or herself. Self-love is an undervalued practice, and it can be hard to convince yourself that you’re worthy of your own care and praise. The song is becoming an anthem to me about proclaiming your love for yourself as loudly as you would to another human being.

AF: The track is pretty romantic. A bit cliche, but What are your relationship deal breakers?

JM: Hatefulness and closed-mindedness. Also I dated someone once that didn’t like birds. That didn’t end well.

AF: As a group you have a very distinct fashion sense, who and what are your style inspirations?

JM: Thank you! We talk a lot about how we want to FEEL rather than how we want to look. If an outfit makes us feel confident and sexy, we wear it. Normally we pick a color or two and then each of us picks out our own outfit based on the color limitations. Putting together a more stylish element, like something from ASOS, with a handmade item or something from the thrift store creates a look that’s unique and personal. We really inspired by Sia’s sleek and modern art-meets-fashion look that intertwines so flawlessly with her music. I also have a background in textiles and fashion, and I’ve done some styling for other bands too.

AF: You’re currently on tour – what has been the most memorable moment so far?

JM: We absolutely loved the show in Brooklyn at Rough Trade. It was truly incredible to be home, playing a sold out show in our home town, with people singing along, really getting into every single minute. It’s humbling and overwhelming to feel the love of hundreds of people directed at you all at once, like a giant Care Bear Stare being rainbowed directly into your heart. That’s a high we’ll ride on for a long, long time.

AF: What comfort of home do you miss most while touring?

JM: My bed! I have a mountain of amazing pillows and a very snuggly husband back there who is really good at keeping me warm… and other stuff.

AF: Can you speak to the sense of accomplishment that must come with selling out shows, such as your performance at Rough Trade in your hometown of Brooklyn?

JM: Every show is like hosting a party: beforehand there’s always that little fluttering worry of “Is anyone REALLY gonna come?” After seven years of touring that feeling still hasn’t gone away! This tour, thanks to being paired to support Wild Child, has been almost 100% sold out. It’s just awesome, and kind of indescribable. We’re very aware that we can’t do our jobs without the support of music fans, and knowing that they’re all going to be there before we even walk in the door lets us pause and feel grateful without those jitters. We can then be more fully immersed in the moment and it helps us host a better party.

AF: What’s next for Pearl and the Beard?

JM: In March we’re thrilled to be touring in support of Ani DiFranco, for our first time out on the west coast. Can’t wait! Then after that probably Disneyland, then death.

AF: How does your third album differentiate your sound from your pervious records?

JM: You’ll just have to get a copy when it comes out and tell me yourself…

Listen to “You” below.

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TRACK REVIEW: Sia “Big Girls Cry”



I sometimes forget just how much I love Sia. Then she puts some new music out into the universe and the feels just come flooding back to me. The Australian songstress could really do no wrong in my eyes, and I can hardly contain my excitement over the release of her sixth album, 1000 Forms of Fear, available July 8th. As a preview of what to expect on her new album, the immensely talented singer has shared another single, titled “Big Girls Cry.” The track is reminiscent of Some People Have Real Problems-era Sia and is nothing short of awesome.

Despite achieving mainstream success via collaborations with everyone from Christina Aguilera to Eminem to Celine Dion, as well as penning one of the most heartbreaking songs of the 2000s that you just couldn’t escape, “Breathe Me,” Sia has always held onto her eccentric vibe. It’s well worth noting that she also puts on one hell of a vibrant live show. Sung in her raspy, breathy voice, Sia’s lyrics have a way of pulling deep empathy out of a listener. If you don’t believe me, just listen to “Lullaby” from Some People and let me know how it goes.

That Sia’s back catalogue might leave you feeling like you’ve just had your heart ripped out (whether you have or not) is fine, really, especially with the delivery of “Big Girls Cry.” It’s Sia’s gift of absolution, a reminder from the artist herself that it’s always okay to let out a big, ugly cry, no matter what Fergie told you in 2007.  It’s also a big “up yours” to all those in the music industry and beyond who keep telling women to toughen up. Sia charmingly reassures us that you can be a big girl and still break down in uninhibited vulnerability, especially when your heart is breaking. And if Sia tells you that it’s okay to cry, then it’s gotta be okay. In some ways, that stance is a lot tougher than stifling emotions and sucking it up.

I won’t confirm nor deny whether the song actually made me cry – maybe I just had something in my eye – but you can check it out for yourself below, totally unafraid of judgement should you feel the need to weep. If you pre-order 1000 Forms of Fear on iTunes, you get an instant download of “Big Girls Cry,” and that’s certainly nothing to be upset about.