Songs allegedly about heroin

Have you ever come across a certain type of music fan who will try and convince you that your favourite song, which up to that point you presumed was about love or the end of a relationship or whatever, is actually about heroin?

This usually involves songs written by men about women, often using a real name, which, once substituted by the word heroin, will reveal the song’s true meaning.

For instance, the Jesus and Mary Chain, ‘Some Candy Talking’ = ‘Some Heroin Talking;.

Other examples include:

The Stone Roses, ‘Sally Cinnamon’ = ‘Sally Heroin’
The Beatles, ‘Sexy Sadie’ = ‘Sexy Heroin’
Helen Reddy, ‘Angie Baby’ = ‘Heroin Baby’
Smokie, ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ = ‘Living Next Door to Heroin’ (‘Heroin, Who the Fuck is Heroin?’ asks Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown)
Neil Sedaka, ‘Oh, Carol’ = ‘Oh, Heroin’
Frank Sinatra, ‘Nancy With the Laughing Face’ = ‘Heroin With the Laughing Face’
The Rolling Stones, ‘Angie’ = ‘Heroin’

Some arguments for secret narcotic messages are more convincing than others. For instance, I can see how ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ may actually be about Class A drugs (‘You get under my skin, but I don’t find it irritating’ goes the lyric).

Some songs I am less sure of, however. In particular, ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed, which is often assumed to be about the euphoria induced by smack. Why is he having a perfect day? Because he’s out of his mind on H of course!

(Most Lou Reed songs can be read as being implicitly about heroin. ‘Sweet Jane’ could be perceived as really being ‘Sweet Heroin’. ‘Lisa Says’ could be ‘Heroin Says’. ‘Stephanie Says’ could also be ‘Heroin Says’. ‘Caroline Says I and II’ could be ‘Heroin Says I and II’. ‘Rock & Roll’ could easily be ‘Heroin & Heroin’. In fact the only Lou Reed song definitely NOT about heroin is of course ‘Heroin’. This is a coded account of Lou Reed’s addiction to popping the air bubbles in Jiffy bags, to which he lost a whole year of his life.)

Anyway, back to ‘Perfect Day’. The reason why I am not convinced by the heroin argument is that if you look at the activities he in fact takes part in on his perfect day, well, they’re not exactly ones inherently associated with the junkie lifestyle. First, he ‘drinks Sangria in the park’. OK, I can buy that. But then, he ‘feeds animals in the zoo, then later a movie too’. It’s hardly Trainspotting is it?

No doubt I will be inundated by emails along the lines of ‘Blandford, you don’t know what you’re talking about. While strung out on heroin, I attended the ballet, opera and took part in a whole range of social, cultural and sporting activities’, but I’m just not buying it. This guy is not on heroin. He may well however, own a copy of that week’s Time Out as he’s planned his perfect day very efficiently.

In summary, I would say that most pop songs are not really about heroin after all. I do believe, however, that many of them include coded messages of an extreme Right-Wing nature encouraging the youth to rise up and form a Fourth Reich that will one day take over the planet, but that’s a subject for another post…

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