Habits & Vices

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“Everybody Must Get Stoned”

Drug use in music has been a topic of discussion and debate since at least the 1930s if not earlier. As stated in the old saying ‘wine, women and song‘, association of music with using various substances go back centuries. References to recreational drug use in various forms have been common as the modern record industry developed, particularly in terms of popular music genres such as pop rock singles, dance releases, and the like. Social, cultural, legal, and economic challenges to the existence of music referring to recreational drugs have prompted several studies on the link between such references and increased usage among teens and young adults. Findings over multiple decades have had mixed results. Many complicating factors exist; in particular, a song that describes substance abuse in a depressive, emotionally blank fashion may trigger curiosity for one listener as well as revulsion for another. Sporadic calls for music censorship in different counties over the past decades have also had vastly different outcomes depending on the nation.

Some prominent songs referred to recreational drug use back into even the 1930s. For instance, the W.C. Fieldsvehicle International House, a bawdy comedy film released in 1933, featured Cab Calloway doing the tune “Reefer Man”. The fact that many jazz and swing music artists were frank with each other about cannabisusage, touching on the matter even in song lyrics, attracted critical attention at the time. Well known music magazine Radio Stars printed a sensationalist article in 1938 by journalist Jack Hanley titled “Exposing the Marijuana Drug Evil in Swing Bands”. Hanley recounted, “One leader told me of a young man in his band who was a crackerjack musician, but who used the weed so consistently that he was quite undependable. The fits of deep depression reefers so often, [sic] produce would seize him until he had to be restrained, [sic] from suicide.”Track “If You’re a Viper” (also known as “If You’re a Viper”), composed by Stuff Smith and first recorded by his group in 1936, provides another example of the few tracks that made things deeply explicit before the 1960s. More at…………..

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“The Needle and the Damage Done” is a song by Neil Young that describes the destruction caused by the heroin addiction of musicians he knew. Though not specifically about him, the song was inspired by the heroin addiction of his friend and Crazy Horse bandmate Danny Whitten……..Listen to “The Needle and The Damage Done” and more at……”

“The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young

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