Hands up who thought that heavy drug references in music arrived in the 60s and the ‘straights’ just didn’t get it? Well if that’s you, you’re very, very wrong. Fred Astaire was singing about Benzedrine in a song back in 1942. The song was “On The Beam” written by Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern. Astaire sang it in the film ‘You Were Never Lovelier‘ (Thank you to the rather excellent Word magazine for bringing this to my attention)
It’s certainly not the earliest drug reference in song either. Cole Porter wrote “I Get A Kick Out Of You” for the Broadway musical ‘Anything Goes‘ in the early thirties and the song has the lines ‘Some get a kick from cocaineI’m sure that if I took even one sniff That would bore me terrifically, too’ I love that I have been able to talk about lines and cocaine in the same sentence there!
Feel free to contribute with your own favourite drug reference in songs, especially if it’s earlier than these two!