“The experts say that Gilded Palace of Sin, the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, more or less invented so-called Country Rock. I say, it’s simply one of the best albums I’ve ever heard, pretty much flawless from beginning to end, with Christine’s Tune the twang-driven rocker that kicks it all off. And f*** you, heroin, for derailing what Gram Parsons was so gloriously up to.” (Philip Random)
“Time Waits for No One being arguably the Rolling Stones‘ most beautiful song, epic and tragic and the kind of nugget that got at least a little radio play back in the day. Years later, I discovered it was mostly Mick Taylor‘s accomplishment. He didn’t write it, but he did everything else, fought for it in the studio, played the guitar solo. And then, as the story goes, he was done. He quit the band, did a good job of becoming completely obscure. Apparently, heroin was involved.” (Philip Random)
“Patrick Gallagher was my life’s first full-on Beatles fan. Every Christmas, he’d get a new Beatles album. In 1968, that meant the White Album, two records exploring all kinds of extremes, most of them miles over our tiny heads (his ten years old, mine nine). But we liked the monkey song. What kid wouldn’t like a monkey song? Even if it turned out to have nothing to do with monkeys at all, but was John Lennon’s take on the great and faultless Maharishi being a bit of a horndog, trying to get his hands on Mia Farrow’s ass, and how this didn’t seem to fit the man’s intimations of higher wisdom and humanity. Also, maybe heroin.” (Philip Random)
“The title track of Neil Young’s sixth studio album is completely concerned with heroin and the damage done, souls consumed, lives ended way too soon. It says 1975 on the cover (and it was actually recorded a couple of years earlier) but I didn’t find it until at least ten years after the fact, yet grimly perfect timing nevertheless, such is junkiedom — it never goes out of style. Which isn’t to say Tonight’s the Night is all one sustained dirge – the album that is. But that said, it never forgets what it’s about, always more shadow than light, always more nasty than nice.” (Philip Random)
“In which the Forgotten Rebels, straight outa Hamilton, Ontario, remind us (as some now dead guy once said) that junkies gonna junk and dabblers gonna dabble, except with heroin, sometimes the dabblers die anyway, but mostly they just wobble around (if they’re standing at all) like they’re working monster waves a mile from shore. Maybe it feels cool, but it mostly looks dumb. Seriously, the song’s supposed to be taking the piss, but as always with these things, some seem to take it as lifestyle advice. I guess nobody’s to blame but stupidity itself.” (Philip Random)
1969 ended badly for the Rolling Stones at a free concert in Northern California, a place called Altamont — a man murdered directly in front of the stage. But that was only after Brian Jones got booted from the band he’d founded, then drowned in his swimming pool, or was he murdered, too? And meanwhile, Keith Richard just kept slipping deeper and deeper into the fool’s kingdom known as heroin. And yet the Stones also found the time to record Let It Bleed that year, maybe their single greatest slab of vinyl, with Monkey Man a track that managed to not get played to death on commercial radio. Too bad, too ugly, too good.
Old England being the grimmest track found on the Waterboys‘ otherwise mostly uplifting 1985 masterpiece This is the Sea. Because what value empire when it’s children are giving up, choosing instead the kingdom inherent in refined opium? You can see it in their heroin eyes. The sun is most definitely setting. And just to make it clear he wasn’t messing around, main Waterboy Mike Scott would soon be relocating to Ireland with (again) almost entirely uplifting results.
“Presence is the good Led Zeppelin heroin album (as my friend Mark once put it), the mostly sh** one being In Through The Out Door (Jimmy Page being too f***ed up to care). Either way, the Zeppelin’s days of full-on world dominance and glory were slipping past them by 1976, which didn’t exactly stop them from laying down some of the evilest blues mankind has ever known. Even if, in this case, it was a song about taking personal responsibility for the mess you’re in, which, when you think about it, is very mature behavior.” (Philip Random)
Gram Parsons was dead before the world ever heard his final album, Grievous Angel. Which made In My Hour Of Darkness, its final song (completely concerned with people who had died before their time) all too relevant, particularly the part where he sings his own eulogy: he was just a country boy his simple songs confess – and the music he had in him so very few possess. Who says there’s no such thing as ghosts? And angels, because that’s Emmylou Harris singing backup.