3 Songs About Drugs and 3 Songs That Aren’t

Yes, we all know music largely revolves around sex, drugs and rock and roll, but sometimes it’s hard to actually tell which one the band is talking about. Here are six songs with meanings you may not have originally guessed.

Songs About Drugs:


“Got To Get You Into My Life” by The Beatles
This track really sounds like a love song written for a love interest with lyrics like, "Ooh, I suddenly see you/Ooh, did I need you/Every single day of my life." Despite how it sounds though, this one is about the first time Paul tried marijuana and his instant love affair with the drug. What more would you expect from soneone who also named a romantic love song (Martha My Dear) after his dog?
Source Image Via Gonzalo Barrientos [Flickr]

“Motorhead” by Hawkwind and Motorhead
Even a lot of Motorhead fans don’t actually know that the name is a slang for a speedfreak. Lemmy wrote the song for the group Hawkwind first and then took it to be the title song for his post-Hawkwind group. Here’s some of the song’s lyrics that really give it away, “Motorhead, you can call me Motorhead, alright/ Brain dead, total amnesia/ Get some mental anesthesia.”
Source

“Hey Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan
This one’s a little less certain. You see, although it is widely accepted that this song is about a man looking to score from his dealer, Bob claims none of his songs are about drug use. While I’m usually inclined to accept the artist’s word on his own songs, Mr. Dylan also claims that “Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35” A.K.A. “Everybody Gets Stoned” is especially not about drugs. I may be able to concede that he may have meant the song to be more about stonings and social outcasting, I have a hard time accepting a poet as prolific and intelligent as Bob Dylan didn’t realize and fully intend the double meaning of the chorus.
Source Image Via MarkyBon [Flickr]

Songs Not About Drugs:


“Hotel California” by The Eagles
With lyrics like “you can check out anytime, but you can never leave,” it’s easy to see why so many people associated the song with drug use. The reality is that the song is more about the hedonism of the Southern California lifestyle the group was exposed to in the seventies, which, to be fair, did include heavy drug use. Still, the drugs would be no more than a minor part of the song’s deeper meaning. Eagles drummer and writer Don Henley, said it was “basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about."
Source Image Via Saguayo [Flickr]

“Mirror in the Bathroom” by The English Beat
While many people assume any songs involving mirrors, particularly when the mirror is in a bathroom, must be references to cocaine, this one is actually about narcissism. The writer, Dave Wakeling, said he was inspired to write the song while he was looking in the mirror at himself debating whether or not he could skip work that day. He then started thinking about the self-involvement and narcissism. The line about “a restaurant that’s got glass tables” was actually a direct reference to a fancy restaurant that opened near him that, would you guess it, had glass tables. Funny enough, the success of the song may have helped lead the band into cocaine addictions; Dave later remarked about it that, “songs can become sort of strangely prophetic.”
Source

“Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary
This song really is about a growing up and abandoning an imaginary friend who happens to be a dragon. Although it’s merely a tale of lost childhood innocence, the release of the song in the drug-fueled sixties led to many people assuming that anything with the word “puff” was actually a reference to marijuana. Co-writer Leonard Lipton once said, “I can tell you that at Cornell in 1959 [when the song was written], no one smoked grass.” So, if you were hoping for the song to actually have been about drugs, you almost certainly have already lost that childhood innocence referenced in the song.
Source Image Via CelestialSpirit13 [Flickr]

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"They stab it with their steely knives/but they just can't kill the beast." Unless I'm mishearing those lyrics from Hotel California (always a strong possibility), I'm pretty sure that's a clear reference to heroin.

No "Mr Brownstone" by GnR?
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"Waiting For My Man" is a bit too literal. The Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man" is the superior drug-anticipation song.

The hedonism mentioned for "Hotel California" most definitely includes addiction.

How about the fact that some people still think David Bowie's "Space Oddity" is about an astronaut, not about being high on heroin? If it wasn't apparent then, he made it clear later singing "Ashes to Ashes. Funk to Funky. We know Major Tom's a junkie." -The BBC even played it in England for the moon-landing.

How 'bout a list to clarify which Spiritualized songs are about drugs and which are about being in love? Wait, all of them are, simultaneously.
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Oh, and Patti, the initials in "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was not a reference to LSD. It was based on a picture John Lennon's son Julian made in school. I'm sure, though, that Lennon took delight in the happy coincidence.
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