Drugs and Music
Christina Gov, Steven Galarnyk,
Timothy Bates, Amanda Siu, Jae
"Music is the soul of language"
- Max Heindel
Since the dawn of society, humans have jammed to music and used
drugs for spiritual and celebratory reasons. This is one of the oldest
cultural phenomena still going on strong today.
We will each present five music genres of their cultural influences
and their relationship to drugs.
Rock & Roll
• Associated with marijuana
• Many reggae artists were followers of the Rastafari movement
o Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear
o Cannabis referenced in lyrics
 "Legalize it" - Peter Tosh
A Brief History
• 1655-1838 - Jamaica captured as a British colony
o slave economy
• 1838 - Jamaica was emancipated
• A religion and ideology that developed in Jamaica
• Rejection of imperialism, westernization - "Babylon"
• Promoted regular use of marijuana
o Called ganja, the herb, the weed, the holy herb
• Did not encourage rum, liquor, or cigarettes
Rastafarianism: Marijuana
• Ganja used as a religious ritual
• Expression of freedom against Babylon
• Used recreationally and religiously
o Smoking ganja considered a spiritual act
o Followed by Bible study
o Brings one closer to Jah
• Smoking of ganja to "loosen up"
o brainwashed by capitalism and colonialism
o the only way to clear the mind would be through use of ganja
 enables you to see your "true self"
• Belief that the Bible encouraged use of the herb
o "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and the herb for the
service of man." Psalm 104:14
More Biblical Citations
"...thou shalt eat the herb of the
field." Genesis 3:18
"...eat every herb of the land"
Exodus 10:12
"And God said, Behold, I have
given you every herb-bearing
seed, which is upon the face of
all the earth, and every tree, in
the which is the fruit of a tree
yielding seed; to you it shall be
for meat." Genesis 1:29
"And the earth brought forth
grass, and herb yielding seed
after his kind, and the tree
yielding fruit, whose seed was in
itself, after his kind: and God
saw it was good." Genesis 3:18
Nesta Robert "Bob" Marley
Reggae artist and
Spread the Rastafarian
Movement worldwide
What is Electronic Music?
• According to the EMA, electronic music is any music
produced or performed primarily using electronic
instruments in a unique, non-generic fashion, such that the
focus of the music is on the electronic aspects.
• Some popular artists in
this genre includes;
o Steve Aoki
o Infected Mushroom
o Armin Vaan Burren
o The Prodigy
o Skrillex
History of Electronic Music
"If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms,
munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music." - Marcus Brigstocke
• Electronic music could be dated back to as 1900s. However, to
us the more culturally relevant portion of electronic music
history starts out in 1980s when the rave culture started to take
o Gained popularity in the U.K with influential figures such as
Paul Oakenfold.
o Not surprisingly, E started to get popular around this time
 First news report of E seizure in 1987.
Iconic Drugs
o Pharmacodynamics
 Indirect agonist for 5-HT and for
DA and Ne in lesser amount
 It's effects are unique because it
makes you feel sympathetic
towards others. (empathogenesis)
 Perhaps this is the reason it is
popular with teenagers. (That or
the increase in sensuality
known as enactogenesis)
o Pharmacokinetic
 Usually swallowed in pill form
 peaks in 1 hour and last from
3-12 hours depending on purity
MDMA crystals
Iconic Drugs continued
• Stimulants
o Cocaine, Amphetamine
 These are insufflated or cut into the
ecstasy pills
• Psychedelics
 Taking MDMA and LSD at the same
time is known as "Candy flipping."
These were the people I had to interview, this was difficult for
several reasons.
1. The music was blaring non-stop, it was very hard to carry on a
conversation. Apparently rave culture promotes unity, not
2. People wouldn't stop offering me massages and light shows.
While flattered, some of these people had to be avoided.
Interview continued
Many claimed that the effect Example from my hands-on
of MDMA made them feel
more connected and close to 1. "Sick bass beats and ecstasy
one another.
just goes together." - Hyper
• MDMA was used for
2. "I can feel the music with all of
marriage counseling.
my body and makes me want
• This also coincides with
to dance all night long." Crush Bunny* (enactogenesis)
PLUR, the rave philosophy
of Peace, Love, Unity and •
This person probably took
pill that was cut with uppers
such as amphetamine.
(*= In rave culture, people are
designated a raver name from
either their rave parent or a total
Rock & Roll
Early Rock
• Elvis Presley
o A heavy prescription drug user
 Amphetamines, Barbiturates, Hydromorphone...
o Denounced illicit drug use
o Traces of 14 different drugs at time of death
• The Beatles
o Very heavy use of illicit drugs
 LSD (a ton), Amphetamines, Cannabis, Cocaine...
 Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
o Eventually denounced drug use
• These were typical patterns among other artists of the time
Jimi Hendrix and Psychedelic Rock
Became symbol of the psychedelic movement.
Used LSD, Barbiturates, Amphetamines
Message of peace and love, supported hippie movement
Died famously by choking on vomit while on Barbiturates
• Psychedelic rock associated with many drugs
o LSD and LSA, psilocybin, Mescaline, DMT, DOM (STP)
o also used Cannabis, Cocaine, Ketamine and others
• Use extensive references to drugs
Focus on: LSD
• d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
• Derived from ergot, a fungus on rye
• Acts primarily on 5HT-2A receptor
o Direct agonist
• Also acts on many other 5HT, NE and DA receptors
o Does not cause dependence
• Rapid tolerance due to down-regulation of 5HT-2A receptors
o Cross tolerance with Mescaline and Psilocybin
• Significant open and closed eye hallucinations and possible
synesthesia, surfaces seem to breathe and morph, after images
o Set and Setting very important to avoid bad "trip"
• Schedule I drug
Ozzy Osbourne and Heavy Metal
• Former lead guitarist and vocalist for Black Sabbath
• Abused drugs including alcohol for 40 years
• "I've been loaded on booze, coke, acid, Quaaludes, glue,
cough mixture, heroin, Rohypnol, Klonopin, Vicodin, and too
many other heavy-duty substances to list in this footnote. On
more than a few occasions I was on all of those at the same
• Suffered from tremors due to Parkin Syndrome
o Not from Drug or Alcohol Abuse
• Heavy Metal is associated with harder drugs
o Cocaine, Heroin, PCP, LSD, Alcohol, Cannabis, Crack,
Amphetamines, solvents, Barbiturates
"Resting Arousal, Sensation Seeking,
and Music Preference"
• Suggests that some individuals may be predisposed to seek out
more intense and complex stimuli than others
o some individuals may enhance stimulation, resulting in over
o others may reduce intensity of incoming stimuli, resulting in
stimulus deprivation.
• Adolescents that listen to heavy metal were more likely to use, but
not abuse illicit drugs
• Drug taking and other reckless behavior associated with higher
levels of arousal, and are therefore preferred by stimulus seeking
• These individuals engage in these activities in order to reach their
ideal level of stimulation
Jazz and Drugs
“The jazzman has always been tagged with the current vice of the times. In the
Twenties the jazz musician was a drunkard. He was a jazz musician, therefore he
was a drunkard. In the Thirties and early Forties, he was a jazz musician, therefore
he used marijuana. In the later Forties and Fifties, into the Sixties, he's a jazz
musician, so he's a dope addict.”
– Billy Taylor
• History:
1910: Introduction of marijuana to US
1923-1930: Racially charged anti-pot campaign
1937 Marijuana Tax Act
• Muggles, moota, gage, reefer, Mary Warner, tea,
mezz, ju-ju, grifa….
• Effects:
Increased metabolism - useful on late nights
Distorted perceptions - enhanced listening experience
Impaired coordination, learning and memory
Focus: Heroin
• Faster-acting version of morphine
• Can be smoked, snorted, injected
• Effects
Euphoria – “a deep sense of satisfaction”
Followed by exhaustion, sense of apathy
 Aid for performance anxiety
Nausea, slowed metabolism
*Heroin: Pharmacology
• Pharm. term: Diacetylmorphine
Morphine + 2 acetyl groups
µ opioid agonists
Increases dopamine production by inhibiting
GABA release
analgesic, euphoric effects
*"the idea was going around that to use heroin might make you play as
great as Bird." - Miles Davis
Country Music and Drugs
The Joke: “ What do you get when you play a country
song backwards?”
Answer: You get your dog back, your truck back and
your wife back.
“I’m just gonna go home, lie down, and listen to
country music. The music of pain.” -Xander from Buffy
“Country music has always been the best shrink that 15 bucks can
buy.” -Dierks Bentley
“Country Music is three cords and the truth.” -Harland Howard
Drug References
Alcohol- Brad Paisley
Whiskey Girl- Toby Keith
Tequila Makes her Clothes Fall Off- Joe Nichols
Whiskey for my men, Beer For My Horses- Toby Keith
Tear In My Beer- Hank Williams
Whiskey river- Willie Nelson,
Whiskey bent and hell bound- Hank William’s, Jr
Beer thirty- Brooks & Dunn
Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On- Neal McCoy
All Jacked Up- Gretchen Wilson
Tennessee whiskey- David Allen Coe
Whiskey Girl- Toby Keith
Tequila Sunrise- Eagles
Drugs or Jesus- Tim McGraw
Cocaine Blues- Johnny Cash
What does Country Music
• Researchers who looked at the bestselling songs in several
genres from 2005 found that 37% of top country songs featured
references to drugs or alcohol, compared to just 14% of rock
songs. Rap songs referenced drug usage in 77% of songs. R&B
and Hip-hop were at 20%.
• The same study found that the drug most often mentioned in
country songs is alcohol.
So we know the reference
• A study by Loyola University found beer consumption was
greatest for country music at live concerts when compared
against Rock, Reggae and Hip-hop/Rap. Overall alcohol
consumption however was highest for rock concerts.
Where is country music?
• Primarily in the USA but also Canada and
Where in the US is country?
• The size of each state is proportional to the number of times it is
mentioned in country music.
Tobacco Usage
Alcohol Usage (binge)
Source: http://www.statemaster.com/red/graph/hea_alc_con_bin_dri-health-alcohol-consumption-binge-drinkers&b_map=1
So why all talk and no drink?
• Drinking is clearly considered wrong but in most of
the songs it’s seen as expected and routine to use it
to face the tough facts of life.
• The answer to the paradox: The concept of
• Two famous country stars, Johnny Cash and George
Jones, both drank and it almost ruined them but they
both found the strength to turn their lives around.
That’s country music.
Drinking is about humor?
• A University of Pittsburgh study found that in country music drinking
tends to be portrayed as humorous. Alcohol isn’t quite given a blanket
acceptance as much as a humorous portrayal.
“Don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here,
That’s what they said when I got my last beer.
Oh my God, its 2 oclock, I can’t find my keys and my trucks locked
So I grabbed a tire tool and I broke my window, hurt my elbow got me in though
Two foot later backed into the light pole, all the town folk got a good show”
From "All Jacked Up" by Gretchen Wilson
“He's on the dance floor yelling Freebird
Singing off pitch but he knows every word
Grabs him another girl and he holds on tight
Now he's chasing everything in sight
he'll fall apart when he gets home
Right now his worries are gone
Life looks good, good, good
Billy's got his beer goggles on”
From "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On" by Neal
“She’ll start with kickin’ out of her shoes
Loose an earring in her drink
Leave her jacket in the bathroom stall
Drop a contact down the sink”
From "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" by Joe
Prescription Drug Abuse
• Nonmedical Use of Pain Relievers in Past Year among Persons Aged
12 or Older
Thank you! Enjoy your spring break
and continue this cultural phenomena
at your own discretion.
Barrett, Leonard E Sr. The Rastafarians. Beacon Press: Boston 1997.
McNamara, L., & Ballard, M. E. (1999). Resting Arousal, Sensation Seeking, and Music
Preference.Genetic, Social & General Psychology Monographs, 125(3), 229. Retrieved
from EBSCOhost.
References continued...
Ben Marsh, “A Rose-Colored Map” Harper’s, July 1977, 80.
SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.
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