10 Anti-Drug Songs That Sound Better When You're High
Buzzkill anthems best enjoyed while under the influence.
The classic rock and hip-hop canons are rife with sincere, effective, musically dynamic odes to the genuine dangers of illegal drug abuse. Think of “The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young, “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, and “Night of the Living Baseheads” by Public Enemy.
By the same tokin’, popular music that celebrates the joy, inspiration, and life-enhancing aspects of marijuana has been around since at least Cab Calloway’s 1932 showstopper “Reefer Man.” Pro-pot anthems since then include “Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath, “Legalize It” by Peter Tosh, and “Mary Jane” by Rick James, as well as countless hip-hop jams on the order of "How High" by Method Man and Redman.
The songs assembled below are peculiar hybrids. On the one hand, these ditties’ lyrics explicitly decry the “evils” of intoxication and various chemical agents. On the other hand, these anti-drug dirges are a blast to listen to after you get blasted.
So fire up and hit play.
10. 'Because I Got High' by Afroman (2001)
Words of Warning: "I was gonna go to court before I got high/I was gonna pay my child support but then I got high/They took my whole paycheck and I know why/ 'Cause I got high"
The closing credits of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back generated this fluke novelty hit. Backed by a dazed groove, Afroman blames his negligent lifestyle on marijuana. It’s intended to be perceived as cute.
9. 'Toy Soldiers' by Martika (1988)
Words of Warning: "My head is spinning constantly/How can it be?/How could I be so blind to this addiction?/If I don't stop, the next one's gonna be me"
One-hit pop diva Martika purrs and chants a vague anti-drug missive over a kid’s choir and a modified nursery rhyme and gloppy late-’80s production. The dunderheaded end result attracted no less a master of subtlety than Eminem to sample both the chorus and the title.
8. 'White Lines (Don’t Do It)' by Grand Master Flash and the Furious 5 (1983)
Words of Warning: “A million magic crystals painted pure and white/A multi-million dollars almost overnight/Twice as sweet as sugar, twice as bitter as salt/And if you get hooked baby/it's nobody else's fault—so don't do it!”
“White Lines” proved to be a crucial hip-hop milestone with an irresistible bass riff and sing-along chorus. The goof factor comes from the song’s message: “Cocaine is always fun, and it will make you rich, powerful, and attractive to sex partners—but don’t do it!
7. 'Teenie Weenie Boppie' by France Gall (1968)
Words of Warning: “Teenie Weenie Boppie/Took some LSD/ A cube of sugar and here she is/already in agony… Teenie Weenie Boppie/She died in the night/ From what, from taking/a dose of LSD”
Parisian pop star France Gall’s anti-acid ditty dripped off the pen of world-class hedonist Serge Gainsbourg. As wiggy as the song sounds, watching the highly hallucinogenic proto-music-video clip of France chirping out the lyrics in her native French is une bon voyage.
6. 'Marijuana' by McGruff the Crime Dog (1986)
Words of Warning: “Never try/Marijuana, don’t try it at all/It’s a lie/It’s like beating your head on a wall.”
Getting right to the point, “Marijuana” showcases dissonant caterwauling about the weed with roots in hell sung by a guy in a six-foot bloodhound costume over an ’80s keyboard riff. As with so many of these songs, the trench-coated canine mascot is accompanied by a children’s choir.
5. 'Things Get a Little Easier' by Think (1971)
Words of Warning: “I’m sorry Mr. Kirk, you better come down to the station house… your son is dead… he died from an overdose.”
“Things Get a Little Easier” by Think is a bizarre sonic equivalent of a late-60s Dragnet episode that, stupefyingly, reached #23 on the Billboard singles chart.
Over a chanted refrain of the title (plus, “…once you understand”), Think rolls out a sonic drama featuring voice-over actors as parents, teenagers, and cops. The morality play addresses the generation gap and hippie head fun leading to tragedy, complete with a hyper-heavy gut-punch payoff.
The whole thing is sufficiently weird enough for off-the-wall rapper Biz Markie to have adapted the refrain in 1989 for his own version of “Things Get a Little Easier.”
4. 'Okie From Muskogee' by Merle Haggard (1969)
Words of Warning: “We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee/We don't take no trips on LSD/We don't burn no draft cards down on Main Street/We like livin' right, and bein' free.”
A bona fide country classic and a musical masterwork of Vietnam-era “Silent Majority” outrage, Merle Haggard’s proud declaration of what they don’t do in Muskogee, Oklahoma, U.S.A., is more enjoyable than the modern equivalent of your grandparents cheering on Fox News all day.
3. 'The Pot-Smoker’s Song' by Neil Diamond (1968)
Words of Warning: “Pot! Pot! Give us some pot!/Forget what you are, you can be what you’re not/High! High! I wanna get high!/Never give it up if you give it a try”
Neil Diamond had good intentions with “The Pot-Smoker’s Song.” After visiting the Phoenix House rehab and seeing the devastation racked on patients’ lives by addiction, he concocted this combination of a jaunty, jingle-esque chorus and interviews with alleged dope casualties.
After the tune’s release, and a vociferous public backlash, Diamond dropped “The Pot-Smoker’s Song” from his catalogue and noted, “It was misdirected… ‘The Pot-Smoker’s Song’ nearly cost me my career. People just laughed at it.”
2. 'Dope Pusher' by Bill Cosby (1971)
Words of Warning: “Goodbye, dope pusher/Goodbye, with your bag of agony and death and pain/ You’ll need to find somebody/Not as smart!”
From the now mortifying LP, Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs, “Dope Pusher” features the Cos baying over a wah-wah guitar and a bass-slamming funk groove. He wails about just saying no, at least a decade before Nancy Reagan copped his groove, while perhaps not applying that advice so much in his own life.
1. 'Get High on Yourself' (1981)
Words of Warning: “You can be somebody, with a plan of your own/You can say no, and you won’t be alone/You can make yourself get higher, than you have ever known… Bein’ yourself, bein’ yourself”
“Get High on Yourself” resulted from movie executive Robert Evans’s court-ordered community restitution after getting popped in 1980 for trafficking cocaine. Evans teamed with That’s Incredible! co-host Cathy Lee Crosby to assemble an oddball roster of early ’80s famous folk to perform a “just say no” jingle for a TV Public Service Announcement that, in theory, could have been spun off into a hit record.
As such, “Get High on Yourself’ would have beaten “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band-Aid and “We Are the World” by USA for Africa as the decade’s first all-star charity single, except the PSA proved to be such a dud, even after NBC spent a week promoting a special about the recording, that radio airwaves and music store 45 racks were spared a mega-dose of insipid and disingenuous do-gooderism.
Still, the song and the accompanying video remain the stuff of post-bong-rip hilarity for the ages. Among the superstars (that all the kids back then were really digging) are Bruce Jenner, John Travolta, Burt Reynolds, Muhammad Ali, Paul Newman, Magic Johnson, Mark Hamill, Herve Villechaize, Scott Baio, Robby Benson, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, Kristy McNichol, Henry Winkler, Cheryl Tiegs, Cheryl Ladd, William Katt, John Davidson, Saturday Night Live’s clay object of abuse Mr. Bill, and well-known non-teetotalers Andy Gibb, Leif Garrett, and Dana Plato.