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Keri Blakinger Keri Blakinger

The 10 Best Songs About Crystal Meth


Compared to the backlog of classic songs about heroin and cocaine, crystal meth is still a rank amateur. But the past two decades of rampant use have given meth something to sing about, from alt-country to gay dance music.

16 Substance
Score


Green Day's "Brain Stew" video screen grab

Green Day’s “Brain Stew” video screen grab

Sometimes you just gotta sing—about methamphetamine.

At least the singers on this list do. There aren’t as many songs about meth as there are about heroin or cocaine, and almost all are unambiguously dark melodies of mess, madness and other meth-induced fun. The songs are often darkly funny, too.

Here are 10 of the best-ever tunes about Walter White’s favorite drug.

 

1. “Semi-Charmed Kind of Life” by Third Eye Blind

When this song was released in 1997, it was not immediately apparent to me—just a seventh-grader at the time—that it is undoubtedly about meth. In my defense, “I want something else to get me through this/semi-charmed kinda life” is not a particularly revealing lyric. And at the age of 12, I didn’t understand what “I’m packed and I’m holding” meant. Now, many years of drug use later (and after finally hearing the unedited version), I know exactly what the song is about—and I also know that it basically sounds just like crystal meth feels.

2. “On the Tweek Again” by Primus

Like much of Primus’s work, this song sounds decidedly drug-induced. It doesn’t have a lot in the way of lyrics, but in less than 20 lines Primus tells listeners about a man named Barrest Jeffries who was picked up twice for cooking amphetamines and is now “on the tweek again.”

3. “Return to Oz” by Scissor Sisters

This one wins points for the saddest-ever meth song. It’s so downtempo that the last thing it evokes is a meth trip until you listen to the lyrics—and when you do, it’ll make you want to cry. (Or at the least it’ll ruin your high.) The song uses vivid imagery and metaphor to describe the horrors of meth addiction, lamenting:

Is this the return to Oz?
The grass is dead, the gold is brown and the sky has claws
There’s a wind-up man walking round and round
What once was Emerald City is now a crystal town

If the “clenching jaws,” “sunken eyes” and dread of coming down don’t make the meaning apparent, it may help to know that Scissor Sisters was big on the gay club scene, and that when this song was released in 2004, meth was a crisis in the gay community.

4. “Brain Stew” by Green Day

“Brain Stew” is not the Green Day song most commonly associated with meth use, but it is catchier than “Geek Stink Breath.” At first the song sounds like it could be about any old insomniac, but by the time Billie Joe starts singing about being “fucked up and spun out in my room,” it’s clear that the song is about more than just counting sheep.

5. “The Never Song” by The Whitest Kids U Know

This song takes meth-themed music to an extreme; it isn’t about doing meth, it’s a recipe for making meth. Written by a comedy troupe, “The Never Song” starts off like a kid’s song, telling young listeners that they should never talk back “‘cause that’s how you get grounded” and never cheat on tests “‘cause that’s how you get sent to the principal.” In the third verse, the song takes a decidedly different turn:

Never take cough syrup and mix it up with iodine and lye,
Never take the strike pads off a matchbook,
Never go to a hardware store and then look
Near the paint thinners for muriatic acid,
Or go bring a pot into a rapid
Boil or get hydrogen peroxide.
Never go to a farming store and then buy
PH strips and PVC pipes,
Those fuel cans that make outdoor grills light.
‘Cause that’s how you make crystal meth.

6. “That Girl Crystal” by Cooder Graw

The girl named Crystal in the title isn’t any old bad girlfriend—she’s Ms. Meth. The singer warns, “That girl Crystal, she ain’t so sweet./She’ll hit you in the nose, boy, and knock out your teeth.” She’ll also make you leave your home, call all over town to find her and disappear for days on end. On the upside, at least she doesn’t kill you—yet. Just skip a few songs down on the list for that.

7. “Methamphetamine” by Old Crow Medicine Show

The straightforward title makes the topic of the song pretty darn clear. The chorus is blunt and painfully accurate:

It’s gonna rock you like a hurricane
It’s gonna rock you ’til you lose sleep
It’s gonna rock you ’til you’re out of a job
It’s gonna rock you ’til you’re out on the street
It’s gonna rock you ’til you’re down on your knees
It’s gonna have you begging pretty please
It’s gonna rock you like a hurricane
Methamphetamine

The lyrics weren’t written from some creative act of the imagination about what drug addiction is like. The band’s frontman and fiddler, “Critter” Fuqua, has some up close and personal experience and in 2007—just before this song was released—he left the band for a few years to recover.

8. “You and Your Crystal Meth” by Drive-By Truckers

Like the two previous songs on this list, this is an alternative-country piece. The singer makes no bones about his feelings toward his meth-addicted friend:

You lost your family, wrecked your truck.
I used to love you, now you suck.
We were friends, among the best.
You and your crystal meth.

While telling someone they suck is probably not recommended for, say, an intervention, it is certainly effective in getting the point across: Meth can ruin people and relationships.

9. “Amphetamine Annie” by Canned Heat

Even if you’re not familiar with the title of the song, you’re probably familiar with the shouted chorus, “Speed kills!” While most of the other songs on this list are about illicit meth use, this song was written back in the late 1960s when amphetamines were widely prescribed pills. Indeed, the titular Annie takes methedrine, which was a type of meth tablet. Despite the fact that her drug of choice is legal and legally obtained, by the end of the song Annie ends up in the graveyard “awfully dead.”

10. “Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?” by Harry “The Hipster” Gibson

The oldest song on our list, this tongue-in-cheek boogie-woogie tune was released in the mid-1940s. In it, Gibson croons about a woman who drinks Ovaltine every night to go to sleep, until someone mysteriously begins spiking her chocolaty beverage of choice with the then-popular “bennies” (a close cousin of meth). In short order, Mrs. Murphy kicks out her husband, starts swing dancing and loses 69 pounds—not exactly the regular side effects of Ovaltine.

Keri Blakinger is a recent Cornell University graduate and current staff writer for the Ithaca Times. She blogs at www.keriblakinger.com. Her previous piece for Substance.com was about 10 strange and stimulating facts about the history of speed.