Drug Use and Music Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:


Music is an art form that addresses many social issues, even in popular music otherwise designed for entertainment. I am interested in this topic because drug use is one of those many different issues. Most forms of music will address drug use at some point, and it is important to consider not only how music addresses drugs but how the way in which it has done so has changed, if indeed it has changed at all. For this paper, I wanted to see if I could look at music that is about a number of different drugs, in order to maybe get a sense of whether there were contextual issues at work. The list of songs is found in the table below:

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

The Beatles


Comfortably Numb

Pink Floyd



Because I Got High





Black Sabbath




Leak Bros



These songs span different eras, different drugs and different styles of music. Two are hip hop songs, three are rock songs. The rock songs are older, the hip hop songs are newer. Primack et al. (2008) performed a study that explored the connection between drugs and music. In a study of 279 drug-related songs, the authors found that drugs were referenced in 14% of rock songs and 77% of rap songs. Rock had one of the lowest amounts of drug references -- lower than country or R&B while rap had one of the highest. The authors found that because of this, adolescents are "exposed to approximately 84 references to explicit substance use daily in popular songs" -- and indeed four of the five I chose were major hits (no pun intended).

Despite deliberately choosing a diverse group of songs, there were nevertheless some similarities. All songs except Snowblind were slow in tempo, for example, which might well mirror the effects of the drug -- in which case we would expect Snowblind to be the fastest. In terms of message, the songs tended to either reflect that the artist was the audience -- it was written almost as a cathartic exercise -- or that the song was intended for an audience of someone who might be curious about that drug. Arguably Comfortably Numb is the main exception to this. Of the four others, none are overtly a cautionary tale in a preachy away. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is celebratory, Because I Got High is comical/cautionary, while Snowblind and Waterworld are overtly dark tales reflecting addiction.

There is a role that context plays in the way the drug use is treated is also something worth considering. The Beatles were writing in an era when the psychedelic effects of LSD were being celebrated, and therefore were comfortable taking that tone in their song. Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd were major acts and while their songs were overtly about drug use, they also avoided taking too dark a tone, something that might be expected from mainstream acts. Waterworld, from an underground act and about a drug that has little to no glamor, is easily the harshest and darkest of the songs on this list. Rap is also a musical form that tends to be more blunt in how it treats the darker side of life. The song first talks about PCP use but moves into verses about the vocalists' impending deaths from their addiction. The other songs shy away from this side, despite two of them featuring drugs that often kill their users.

It may be that the franker treatment of dark issues in rap music is precisely why drug use is talked about more in that form of music. Even Afroman, while being comedic, is frank about some of the negative side effects on quality of life that come from overuse of marijuana. Some studies have shown that different types of music correlate to the use of different drugs (Forsyth, Barnard & McKegany, 1997). There are many reasons for this, and different drugs and types of music may simply attract similar types of people. There is also the question as to whether a specific form of music drives the drug use, or whether its artists simply reflect back the culture in which they exist -- the Beatles and Black Sabbath were certainly doing that.

Finding causation…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Drug Use And Music" (2014, February 27) Retrieved December 5, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/drug-use-and-music-183965

"Drug Use And Music" 27 February 2014. Web.5 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/drug-use-and-music-183965>

"Drug Use And Music", 27 February 2014, Accessed.5 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/drug-use-and-music-183965

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Drugs in Rock Music 1955 1966 Much

    Drugs in Rock Music -- 1955-1966 Much is made in the media about rock history and drug involvement by rock stars, particularly in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. The deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and others were apparently due to drug overdoses. But illegal drugs and prescription drugs were in use by rock and roll bands and individual stars before the psychedelic era in the late

  • Drugs Rock Music and Developing Countries Examining

    Drugs, Rock Music and Developing Countries Examining the effects of imported rock music on developing countries and its impact on violence and drug abuse is by no means a simple or straightforward task. One important factor is that this type of music overwhelmingly appeals to young people under age 30, and these are often the majority of the population in many developing nations, especially the Middle East and North Africa. To

  • Drug Culture in Film

    Drug Culture Midterm Prior to this course, I had a very narrow interpretation of drug culture in regards to film. The films I was most familiar with were those that focused on marijuana such as Cheech and Chong films, Pineapple Express, Half-Baked, and the Harold and Kumar trilogy among others. Additionally, the only other heroin-centric film I was aware of was Trainspotting, and the only other cocaine-centric film that had made

  • Drugs Marijuana in Depth the Neuroscience of

    Drugs Marijuana in Depth THE NEUROSCIENCE OF THE DRUG Cannabis sativa (marijuana) is a plant that contains a chemical compound called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is called THC for short. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2010), smoking marijuana (which is the most common form of intake) causes the chemical THC to "rapidly pass from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body."

  • Music and the Counterculture Music

    'All you need is love,' sang The Beatles. But they sang against a backdrop of militant demonstrations, the hazing of soldiers, environmental 'monkey-wrenching,' self-destructive drug trips, and a knifing death at the Altamont Rock Festival in 1969. Apart from the Weatherman faction of Students for a Democratic Society, which took Charles Manson as its hero, most people who identified with the 1960s counterculture deplored violence as much as they

  • Music of the 1960s Whenever

    In "The Times They Are a-Changin'," released in February 1964, he encapsulated the spirit of the times, and issued a timely warning to the older generation to accept the changing times or be drowned in a youth-inspired social revolution. (McWilliams, 32) While Dylan was introducing protest folk music in the mainstream popular music in the early 1960s, bands such as "The Beatles" had captured the imagination of the Western youth

  • Music Therapy Charms to Soothe

    Music is sound, which enters the outer ear and passes through the middle ear into the inner ear and the brain by means of electrical energy. In the brain, it can generate motor responses, draw emotions, release hormones and trigger higher-order processes. The brain develops its response as it perceives the sound. If a loud sound creates fright, calm music can soothe. Records on music therapy date as far back

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved