17 Hits That Are Not-So-Secretly About Drugs

Musicians have been trying to sneak references to getting high into their songs for years. Here are some very famous examples. What did we miss?

1. Ella Fitzgerald, “Wacky Dust” [1938]

There is some chance that this song about cocaine was subtle at the time, but…probably not?

2. Peter, Paul and Mary, “Puff The Magic Dragon” [1966]

These folkies managed to score a hit children’s song about smoking weed in the mid-Sixties. Good work!

3. The Rolling Stones, “Mother’s Little Helper” [1966]

The Stones have a bunch of songs about heroin – apparently “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was slang for a method of injecting heroin into one’s tear ducts!” – but this one is about a bored housewife who gets hooked on barbiturates.

4. The Beatles, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” [1967]

I hope I’m not blowing your mind or anything, but this is a song about LSD.

5. Jefferson Airplane, “White Rabbit” [1967]

The lyrics reference Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, but it’s really about tripping on LSD and/or shrooms.

6. Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Purple Haze” [1967]

It’s about LSD, which once came in the form of purple capsules.

7. Black Sabbath, “Sweet Leaf” [1971]

Ozzy was never good with subtlety: This is obviously a song about smoking weed.

8. Steve Miller Band, “The Joker” [1973]

If the “midnight toker” line didn’t tip you off, this is a song about weed, a drug that will convince you that there is such a thing as “The Pompatus of Love.”

9. Lionel Richie, “Dancing On The Ceiling” [1986]

A lot of hit songs from the Eighties were in some way influenced by cocaine; this one is widely believed to be about getting coked up.

10. Mötley Crüe, “Dr. Feelgood” [1989]

Here’s a mind-blower for you: Dr. Feelgood is a drug dealer!

11. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Last Dance With Mary Jane” [1993]

The “Mary Jane” that’s killing Tom Petty’s pain is, duh, marijuana.

12. Oasis, “Cigarettes and Alcohol” [1994]

Cigarettes and alcohol are considered drugs, sure, but this is here mainly for the not-too-subtle reference to cocaine when Liam sings “you might as well do the white line.”

13. Third Eye Blind, “Semi-Charmed Life” [1997]

This may sound like pure bubblegum, but the lyrics are about a crystal meth addict.

14. Three 6 Mafia featuring UGK and Project Pat, “Sippin’ On Some Syrup” [2000]

There’s a lot of rap songs about purple drank; this was the first to break through to the mainstream.

15. Chamilionaire, “Ridin’” [2006]

This one is about getting busted for driving under the influence.

16. Rihanna, “We Found Love” [2011]

“Yellow diamonds in the light” comes off as poetic imagery, maybe, but it’s a reference to Ecstasy.

17. Kanye West, “Mercy” [2012]

“Somethin’ bout Mary, she gone off that Molly / Now the whole party is meltin’ like Dali.” Hip-hop is overflowing with songs about MDMA right now, this is just a very high-profile example.

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