356. south of heaven

“How f***ed up was the war on drugs? In Los Angeles, 1993, a few weeks before Christmas, a few weeks after River Phoenix had died on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room, a gram or two of heroin cost less than a gram or two of proper skunk weed due mainly to who and what had been getting busted of late. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if we weren’t day drinking, and feeling that something else was needed in the mix, and Gus from Idaho, being cheap, showed up with some heroin instead of the expected bud. And the thing is, none of us are that cool. We’ve never done heroin, but suddenly there it is getting laid out in narrow brownish lines on the coffee table, and yeah, we’re all just drunk enough to be stupid enough to not give a f***, even if you can die just snorting the stuff, particularly if you’re not used to it, if your body hasn’t built up a decent tolerance, this being common knowledge to anyone who’s seen Pulp Fiction. But then just as Greg from Osoyoos is rolling up a dollar bill, Slayer comes crashing in, full roar on the stereo. It’s Smith from Nelson, calling bullshit, enlisting no lesser ally than Lucifer himself, the Morning Star from his haunt way down south of heaven, demanding we see things at least slightly straight. Long story/short, we Just Said No to the heroin, went out for cheap tacos instead, ended up watching I Love Lucy reruns on some lost cable channel. And Slayer will forever have a place in my heart and soul, somewhere in the paradox file.” (Philip Random)

Slayer-1988-live

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361. heroes-helden

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard Heroes a million times already. But have you heard the German/English edit that showed up on the soundtrack for Christianne F, the most depressing movie ever?  There’s just something about what that complex language does to Mr. Bowie’s delivery, the deeper, more wrenching depths of soul and enunciation, how it gets you right to the heart of what was then still a divided city – two opposed universes of politics and animosity grinding up against each other. Forever. Or so it felt at the time.

DavidBowie-ChristianeF

419. busload of faith

“Some late 1980s truth telling from ole Lou Reed, as bitter and misanthropic as ever, and yet still bothering to deliver great songs, the album known as New York being full of them. With Busload of Faith perhaps the closest he ever got to seeing a light that wasn’t drug fueled. Because it’s true, I think. It was then. It still is now. The facts don’t add up in any kind of hopeful way. Never have, probably never will. We’re all f***ed. We’re all gonna die. And yet life seems to keep on keeping on. Hell if Mr. Reed can get behind it, maybe there is something to this faith thing.” (Philip Random)

LouReed-1988

423. Sweet Virginia

“On one level, Sweet Virginia is just another smart and nasty Stones ballad, gritty as the shit on your shoes. But given the album it’s from (Exile on Main St. maybe the best damned rock record of all time), it’s hard not to read more into it. Just the heroin weariness of it all, I guess, and what it says about the 1960s, what they’d promised and given, but also what they’d taken from those who dared partake. Like something out of Greek mythology, a special curse brewed up by the gods, and in some way or other, the whole culture was in on the partaking, even little kids just hanging around the edges, wanting in. That was me by the way. One of the kids. I wanted shit on my shoes, too.” (Philip Random)

RollingStones-1972-kid

445. Christine’s tune [devil in disguise]

“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)

FlyingBurritos-1969-gildedBACKcover

469. time waits for no one

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)

RollingStones-MickTaylor

485. everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey

“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)

Beatles-1968-dog

542. tonight’s the night [1]

“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)

NeilYoung-1973-home

585. surfin’ on heroin

“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)

ForgottenRebels-collage