Like many love affairs, the relationship between music and drugs can be complicated and messy — especially when shooting heroin.
Countless artists have been seduced by the alluring narcotic, leaving behind an indelible legacy and well-documented body count. Whether providing a spark of creativity or refuge from the cold, wicked world, the opiate also frequently destroys everything in its path like a category 5 hurricane.
The influence of heroin, also known as H, horse, chasing the dragon, skag, junk, tar, etc., covers a wide swath from the Delta blues to hip-hop to everything else in between. But don't worry, kids, Barney's "I Love You" or Judy Garland's beloved "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" remain unsullied.
Also, it should be noted that a song’s meaning, like any subjective art form, is open to interpretation. While songs like Lou Reed’s “Heroin” leaves little to the imagination, a canon of less obvious tracks can still be found sans spike, spoon and syringe.
10. "Bad" (U2)
After forming in 1976, U-2 built their reputation by embracing social and politically charged issues throughout their career. The subject of addiction is addressed with particular fervor in their song, “Bad” detailing Heroin’s destructive wrath in their hometown of Dublin. The band would also later mourn the devastating loss of Thin Lizzy frontman and fellow Irishman, Phil Lynott.
Recorded at Ireland’s Slaine Castle and produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, “Bad” was released on the band’s fourth studio album, Unforgettable Fire in 1984. The intense, slow-building anthem quickly became a concert favorite and helped promote awareness of worldwide heroin abuse.
Bono’s passionate rendition during Live Aid at Wembley is considered one of the hallmark performances at the star-studded benefit — and helped elevate U2’s eventual rise as the biggest band in the world.
Christopher Warner is an actor and freelance writer. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and websites across multiple genres, including World War Two Quarterly, Portland Monthly, and bootsnall.com