Alcohol. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it sure is fun sometimes. Of course, there’s nothing remotely glamorous about waking up covered in puke, with one shoe still on, and a hangover that makes your eyeballs throb, but doubtless we’ve all been there, and against any reasonable judgement will go there again. After all, rock ‘n’ roll and drinking go pretty much hand in hand – so much so that a Jack and Coke is now officially called a Lemmy. And let’s face it, no good story ever began with a salad. It goes without saying that alcohol is dangerous, perhaps the most dangerous drug of all, and should be consumed in moderation, but the chances are that you won’t. So, instead, we raise a glass to the ol’ devil juice, salute the slosh, and celebrate the sauce, with ten of rock ‘n’ roll’s best ballads to booze. Please read responsibly…
AC/DC – Have A Drink On Me
There is no small irony in the fact that AC/DC released perhaps the greatest drinking song of all time just five months after their former frontman Bon Scott managed to drink himself to death, the official cause of death being acute alcohol poisoning. Far from acting as a deterrent, however, rumour has it that the Royal Marines have a drinking game based on the song, the rules of which are necessarily simple and begin, as you’d expect, with the consumption of whiskey, gin, and brandy. “Trying to walk a straight line” after playing the game is considerably more complicated.
Thin Lizzy – Whiskey In The Jar
Covered by Metallica for their Garage Inc album of 1998, this traditional Irish folk song, also recorded by The Pogues and The Dubliners in 1990, is perhaps best known for the Thin Lizzy version of 1972. The origins of the song are unknown, but it tells the tale of a highwayman who, having robbed a government official, goes to see a girl called Molly, gets pissed, and passes out to find that she’s called the cops. Given that the lyrics to the chorus are, “Musha ring dumb a do dumb a da. Whack for my daddy-o. Whack for my daddy-o. There’s whiskey in the jar-o,” we can safely assume he was pissed when he wrote it.
Hellyeah – Drink, Drank, Drunk
It’s no secret that Pantera enjoyed an adult beverage or two back in the day, so it’s hardly surprising that drummer Vinnie Paul has maintained that tradition in his current band Hellyeah with this subtle ditty expounding the virtues of getting wasted. “Let’s get fucked up, till we fall down. So everybody get drink drank drunk, right now,” they suggest, before further insisting, “Let’s get tore up, till we’re face down. Because the Hellyeah drink, drank, drunks are back in town!” Unfortunately, they then point out that they’re almost out of beer and you’ll have to buy your own shots. You may want to hide your stash!
Black Label Society – Born To Booze
With albums titles like Sonic Brew, Hangover Music Vol VI, and Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live!! +5, it’s fair to say that Zakk Wylde also enjoyed a tipple or three. Indeed, he once suggested that drinking had saved his life, after he was hospitalised by blood clots that could have been far worse if not for the thinning effects of alcohol. However, on Born To Booze – alternatively titled Born To Lose – we find him with a colossal hangover, the line “Hell yeah, what did we do?” suggesting that it might have something to do with Vinnie Paul’s band. Apparently Zakk is now teetotal.
Throw Rag feat. Lemmy – Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down
It’s a crying shame that you’ve probably never heard of Throw Rag since they were one of the best punk bands ever to come out of California, and still would be, should they ever decide to reform. Certainly a man called Lemmy Kilmister thought so, and here we find him joining them on their 13 Ft. & Rising album for a phenomenal cover of this Merle Haggard original about drowning the pains of lost love with alcohol and finding oneself with not enough booze to complete the task. Simply brilliant.
ZZ Top – Beer Drinkers And Hellraisers
Despite its title, one is unlikely to raise a great deal of hell whilst listening to this ZZ Top classic of 1973, particularly if you happen to be listening to it on the Tres Hombres album from whence it came. Granted, on a record filled with such gems as Precious And Grace, Jesus Just Left Chicago and Hot, Blue, And Righteous, it’s one of the rowdier songs, but it’s still best heard with your feet up on the porch and a six pack of cold ones to fend off the sweltering Texas heat. Translated to English, however, Tres Hombres means ‘three blokes’, which is more in keeping with the Motörhead cover and, indeed, with raising hell.
George Thorogood And The Destroyers – One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
He’s bad to the bone and he drinks alone! Let’s face it, pretty much everything recorded by George Thorogood sounds as if it’s about drinking – and a lot of it is – but this masterpiece, written in 1953 by a chap called Rudy Toombs and covered by Thorogood in ‘77, will make you dance around like someone’s drunk uncle at a wedding. For best results go to the Bulldog Bash and wait ‘til the DJ plays it at about three o’clock in the morning, by which point you should be sufficiently hammered not to care that you can’t actually dance.
Fear – More Beer
Instantly recognisable from the clinking of bottles and the slurred line, “There’s another cold one way down at the bottom,” rarely as an ode to beer been delivered with so much passion as you’ll find on this Fear classic from their eponymous second album. “If there was no more beer, then what would we do?” bemoans frontman Lee Ving, before crawling to the refrigerator to peek inside. Given that the album also includes Have A Beer With Fear we can assume he was in luck. Later songs include I Believe I’ll Have Another Beer, Drink Some Beer, Free Beer, and Another Christmas Beer. Anyone fancy a pint?
Hammer Fight – I Didn’t Like Drinking (Until I Started Drinking)
Hammer Fight get it; sometimes the best cure for a hangover is the last thing you want… another drink! It may not go down too easy, but it’ll help to get rid of that pounding headache and settle that gippy belly. After all, who the hell wants to listen to thunderous metal when they feel like shit? “It’s time to rock ‘n’ roll, my head’s still spinning from the night before!” growls frontman/bassist Drew Murphy, who plans on just “sipping a few.” Then, before you know it, it’s four o’clock in the morning and you’re completely plastered again, knocking back shots of Jager with a bunch of lunatics that you won’t remember meeting. The next day you will feel terrible. A drink will help…
Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk To Fuck
The fourth single from San Francisco punk legends the Dead Kennedys, Too Drunk To Fuck, as you may imagine, does not paint a pretty picture of a night on the piss. Beginning happily enough, with our protagonist going to a party and dancing all night, it rapidly deteriorates after he drinks 16 beers, starts a fight, falls down a flight of stairs, and gets the Hershey squirts, the song ending with sounding of vomiting noises. Surprisingly, this didn’t stop the record from reaching number 36 in the UK charts, the first single with the word ‘fuck’ in the title ever to do so. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the single was banned.