Songs about Addiction

By Roger C

Are there any songs about alcoholism or addiction? You bet there are! If you missed last week’s article, and the song “Until You Try”, check it out: Sticking With It.

Today we have four more songs on this topic. You can listen to all four of them, or one or two. But they all very accurately deal with the problem of drinking and/or drugging. Next week we will have songs about life in recovery.

Here we go:


Sunday Morning Coming Down

This song was written by Kris Kristofferson and was recorded in 1969 before becoming a number one hit on the charts for Johnny Cash. They have sung this song together a number of times and this is one of them. Click here for the song on YouTube and here for the lyrics.

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad
So I had one more for dessert

Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt
And I washed my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day


Sober

Demi Lovato celebrated six years of sobriety in March 2018, tweeting, “Just officially turned 6 years sober. So grateful for another year of joy, health and happiness.” A few months later she released her song, “Sober,” which was about her relapse. “I now need time to heal and focus on my sobriety and road to recovery.” Here’s the song on YouTube and you can also download the lyrics.

Momma, I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore
And daddy, please, forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor
To the ones who never left me, we’ve been down this road before
I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore

I’m not sober anymore

I’m sorry that I’m here again, I promise I’ll get help
It wasn’t my intention, I’m sorry to myself


God of Wine

This song is from the Third Eye Blind band and was released in 1997. Written by Stephan Jenkins – the lead singer of the band – it’s a song about a broken relationship between two alcoholics, one of them him and the other his mother. A sad song. You can listen to the song on YouTube and read and print the lyrics.

You let me down, I said it, now I’m going down
And you’re not even around
And I said no no no…
I can’t keep it all together
I know I know I know…
I can’t keep it all together
And there’s a memory of a window
Looking through I see you
Searching for something I could never give you
And there’s someone who understands You more than I do
A sadness I can’t erase
All alone on your face


Maybe It’s Time

This is a song by Sixx:A.M. The band name is based upon three of it’s members, Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and James Michael. Nikki is a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Recovery Initiatives Foundation, the first and only national community foundation dedicated to building a philanthropic source of funding to provide help and support for those with addiction problems. Nikki is the author of The Heroin Diaries and his song, “Maybe It’s Time”, was first released in 2016. Here it is on YouTube and here are the lyrics.

I’ve abandoned my own life
I can’t breathe, I can’t eat
So I just drink myself to sleep
And embrace this morbid price

But maybe it’s time to heal, maybe it’s time to try
Maybe it’s time to deal with all the pieces in my life
Maybe I’ll sober up, maybe before I die
Maybe I’ll finally deal with all the wreckage in my life


Which song do you like most? Are there other songs about the damage done by alcoholism and addiction that have perhaps helped you? There are many, many songs on this topic.

For a PDF of the article (with all the links) click here: Songs about Addiction.

Again, the next article on AA Agnostica is about a more cheerful topic: songs about life in recovery.


 

26 Responses

  1. Alyssa S says:

    Thank you for the ability to share articles. And the hand is there when I need it 🙂

  2. John the Drunkard says:

    Squareface by a New York pickup recording group in May, 1935. The solo trumpet is Bunny Berigan, who’s alcoholism killed him at 33. Gin was shipped in rectangular bottles from the 19th century onward. For ease of packing. Thus the nickname.

  3. Charles Dickens books still available? says:

    Just kidding. I’d be in a rotten mood too. But sometimes the glitches are funny. You gotta admit they are.

  4. Keith N says:

    Cod’ine
    Buffy Sainte-Marie

    And my belly is craving
    I got a shakin’ in my head
    Feel like I’m dyin’ and I wish I was dead
    If I lived till tomorrow that’ll be a long time
    But I’ll reel and I’ll fall and rise on cod’ine
    And it’s real, and it’s real, one more time
    Well, when I was a young girl I learned not to care
    About whiskey and from it I often did swear
    My mother and father said whiskey is a curse
    But the fate of their baby is a many times worse
    And it’s real, and it’s real, one more time
    Stay away from the cities, stay away from the towns
    Stay away from the men pushin’ the cod’ine around
    Stay away from the stores where the remedy is fine
    For better your pain than be caught on cod’ine
    And it’s real, and it’s real, one more time
    You’ll forget you’re a woman, you’ll forget about men
    Try it just once, and you’ll try it again
    You’ll forget about life, you’ll forget about time
    And you’ll live off your days as a slave to cod’ine
    And it’s real, and it’s real, one more time
    But if I die tomorrow, still one thing I’ve done
    I’d heeded the warning that I got when I was young
    My one satisfaction it comes when I think
    That I’m living my life without bendin’ to drink
    And it’s real, and it’s real, one more time
    And my belly is craving, I got a shaking in my head
    I feel like I’m dyin’ and I wish I was dead
    If I live till tomorrow that’ll be a long time
    For I’ll reel and I’ll fall and I’ll die on cod’ine
    And it’s real, and it’s real, one more time

  5. Curt E. says:

    I have created a playlist on Spotify that I call “Sober Shit”.

    I won’t post ‘em all but want to say they help. Some songs that initially sound like drinking songs are just the opposite.

  6. Jennifer B. says:

    “Maybe it’s Time” was my fav. Thanks for this, however I went down a Billy Joel rabbit hole for an hour.

  7. Elliot S. says:

    I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door
    I love you, baby, can I have some more?
    Ooh, ooh, the damage done
    I hit the city and I lost my band
    I watched the needle take another man
    Gone, gone, the damage done
    I sing the song because I love the man
    I know that some of you don’t understand
    Milk blood to keep from running out
    I’ve seen the needle and the damage done
    A little part of it in everyone
    But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun

    The Needle and the Damage Done
    (Neil Young 1972)

  8. Bill G. says:

    Down Drinking at the Bar by Loudon Wainwright.

    I can picture you there on that stool, drinking like a drunken fool
    Yeah, you’re sitting there on your ass, muttering into your glass
    Paying for your lowlife thrills with wet quarters and soggy one dollar bills

    I know where you are, baby
    you’re down at the bar.

  9. Stephanie S. says:

    I like all of them, in particular the first one. Great first verse and sung by some icons. Striking how what comes through all of them is a profound sense of aloneness. Two others- Amiee Mann, Going Through The Motions, and 10,000 Maniacs, Don’t Talk. More from the perspective of someone dealing with a person with an addiction.

  10. Bill A says:

    Lush Life by Lady Gaga.

    This is likely the greatest song about alcoholism ever written. Lady Gaga does a great job of it even though she is from a completely different generation. It is a pure love song between the addict and their lover (alcohol). Written by Billy Strayhorn and now a staple of the Great American songbook.

  11. Leonard L. says:

    Goodbye Killer, by Joe Pernice, is a good one.

    I was you; you were me
    Dirtbag soaring high above a reefer sea
    Life looked pretty from where we stood
    But you were shootin for the gutter and your aim was very good

    Maybe if I hadn’t let it get so far
    Then it might not be so difficult
    To be where other people are

    You knew heartache, you knew tears
    So did all the other ones you dragged down in the gears
    I don’t judge, I know will is free
    But when the sick abet the sick it’s gonna end up tragically

    Someone’s brother, someone’s lover, someone’s friend
    Lovely words and concepts
    Sweeter when they’re true
    I once applied to you
    Someone’s killer, someone’s devil, someone’s end
    It’s hard to live that down, it’s hard to live as them
    So go easy, friend

    Goodbye killer, goodbye Joe
    I hope you know I always loved you
    But I had to let you go

    Maybe if I hadn’t let it get so far
    Then it might not be so difficult to be where other people are
    Be where the people are

  12. I heard from Nina this episode was coming. It doesn’t disappoint. Great comments, too. This was a subject that came up in a secular Zoom meeting so I wrote a pardody. Here’s the song:

    Addicted to Zoom

    Computer’s on, of course I’m home
    Online together but still alone
    Another Night, Another Day
    But what’s the date, I just can’t say

    Give Friday’s nod to OMAGOD
    Seek relief in Beyond Belief
    How long it been; Confusing, eh?
    It’s We Agnostics; might be Tuesday

    Some of us say it’s just like back in the rooms, oh yeah
    If that was the truth would we be singing this tune
    Gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to Zoom

    No white light, don’t turn it over
    Read a chapter from Living Sober
    evidence based or anecdotal
    A wee bit toxic, sometimes hormonal.
    What’s the code, are there Zoom bombers
    Have a coffer; call your sponsor
    “Your’re gonna loose it, if you don’t use it!”
    What’s that you said- I think you’re muted

    Some of us say it’s just back in the rooms, oh yeah
    If that was the truth would we be singing this tune
    Gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to Zoom

    We have Facebook We have WhatsApp
    There’s Higher Palooza; and a Podcast
    I’m living sober by living cyber
    It’s got it’s drawbacks, I can’t lie here

    I miss the hustle, I miss my band
    But there’s a meeting in Ireland
    I have new friends in the chat folder
    Will I still be sane, when COVID’s over

    Might as well admit it, I’m addicted to Zoom
    Might as well admit, I’m addicted to Zoom

  13. Lola says:

    Chandelier by Sia. Powerful. Especially speaks to women alcoholics.

  14. Larry C. says:

    Remember Beatle John Lennon’s song Cold Turkey? Written about his own experience of withdeawing heroin?

  15. Andy L. says:

    Let’s not forget the late Stevie Ray Vaughan’s songs on the In Step album, after he got sober, like Tightrope and Wall of Denial.

  16. Jeri says:

    Brandi Carlile’s That Wasn’t Me took my breath away when I heard it.

  17. Doc says:

    Many years ago – over 40 years ago – we put together several issues of a magazine called Powerless which published poetry from people in recovery.

  18. Lisa M says:

    Great topic. This is addiction song The Needle and The Damage Done (not Alcohol) but it is a great song by Neil Young written in 1972. So I hope you pardon my departure from the singleness of purpose (alcohol) principle.

    You Tube link is an unplugged version. Lyrics:

    I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door
    I love you, baby, can I have some more?
    Ooh, ooh, the damage done
    I hit the city and I lost my band
    I watched the needle take another man
    Gone, gone, the damage done
    I sing the song because I love the man
    I know that some of you don’t understand
    Milk blood to keep from running out
    I’ve seen the needle and the damage done
    A little part of it in everyone
    But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun

  19. Bob K says:

    Dr. JeKyll dosed himself with the potion that turned him into Mr. Hyde. At some level, he WANTED and WELCOMED the transformation. Being aggressive, confident, and uninhibited has its moments. Social constraints are a pain in the ass at times.

    I like the relatively recent I Don’t Want to Go To Rehab by the late, great Amy Winehouse. Despite mounting consequences, sobriety is unappealing to alcoholics and drug addicts. That’s why there aren’t more of us in the world of abstinence. It all takes some getting used to.

  20. David P. says:

    Leroy Carr’s Sloppy Drunk.

  21. Oren says:

    Backslider’s Wine, sung by Jerry Jeff Walker, written by Michael Martin Murphy.

    I took myself for a strong and loving soul
    ‘Til I found myself face down on the bar room floor
    Crying “My God! What have they done to me?”
    I dare not drink backslider’s wine no more

    The lyrics are printed out under the video.

  22. Tom F. says:

    The Late Fellow Canadian Gene MacLellan in Face In The Mirror wrote: “Ain’t it shame my only friend’s my enemy? And if I’m buyin’ one for you then I’m buyin’ one for me.” Best writing ever about Alcoholic mental Illness.

    Listen to the entire tune and you will see (if you dare!)

  23. Tom F. says:

    In I’m Drunk Again (Butterfield Blues Band recording: “In My Own Dream”) Elvin Bishop sings (or drawls):

    “My Woman says it’s a doggone shame the way some men bring their wives money and furs and jewellery / And I come home. Ain’t got a dime and smelling like a brewery.”

    Later: “Gin has got me to he place where I don’t know what to do. / My Wife had has quit me…and my Girlfriend too.”

    Later: “You now I’ve tried to quit but it ain’t no use … I just can’t cut that juice … loose.”

  24. Glenn L. says:

    Classic Country uses alcoholism as one of its main themes. “One Too Many” by Buddy Cagle is a great example, there are plenty more.

    How many times have you had one too many
    And said things that had long been on your mind
    The next day you were sorry till the next time
    That one drink brought the past back to mind

    Then once too often I had one too many
    I finally broke her heart beyond repair
    At the time I think I knew that I’d be sorry
    But I had one too many to care

    One too many times I hurt her and she left me
    Now walk in any tavern I’ll be there
    Sitting all alone at a table having one too many to care
    [ steel ]
    One too many times I hurt her…

    You can listen to the song here: One Too Many.

  25. Tom F. says:

    Words Can’t Say… by Quicksilver Messenger Service … (from the “Shady Grove” record.)

    “Woah Woah how to know / How long have I gone without drinking? / Wood will burn and wheels may turn / And words can’t say what I’m thinking.” Later on: “I’m moving on / Gonna leave all the sad times behind me.”