Drinking and musical creativity have a long and close relationship, giving birth to some great songs about alcohol and the joys/sorrows of consuming it.
by John Pope on March 26, 2015
Yes, I know, the internet is filled with lists of songs, but there is always room for another one.
Alcohol has always had a close and intimate relationship with all forms of art, sometimes sublime and sometimes tragic, and music is definitely no exception. There are a whole raft of silly drinking songs which we’ll dismiss straight away, and focus instead on the songs that are really about the songwriters relationship with the liquid they are imbibing.
There are a couple of joyful songs in here, but the majority of them probably aren’t going to be happy clappy at all, but then the best songs are rarely cheerful anyway.
My biggest issue when compiling this list is the fact that I really am not a fan in any way of country music. If I were it would make everything much easier, because country seems to be absolutely overflowing with songs about the bottle.
So, I’ll start things off with a few that spring immediately to my mind, but would love to hear what you think. Please leave thoughts and suggestions in the comments section at the bottom.
The Housemartins – Happy Hour
It may be upbeat and chirpy on the surface, but it’s lyrically anything but. It’s a good sing-along tune though, and the video contains a fantastically awkward dance routine.
Underworld – Born Slippy
Massively misunderstood, this is not really a drinking anthem. It is instead a mildly ironic distillation of a night out into five minutes of the finest electronic music you are likely to find anywhere.
The Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes is Back
The appearance of a second Paul Heaton penned song on the list, and it’s not the most cheerful ditty.
LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls
Not LCD Soundsystem’s greatest song by any stretch of the imagination, but it does take us on a grand old lyrical piss up. Oh, and pandas harass people in the video.
Blur – Bank Holiday
A little slice of British life and binge culture, delivered in less than two minutes by Blur. Bank holidays are like massively extended Friday nights. The only difference is that you actually do have work tomorrow morning.
Oasis – Cigarettes & Alcohol
This is not on the list only to even up the balance because we just had a Blur track, but because once upon a time before it all just went a bit ‘meh’, and Liam became a complete tool, Oasis really were very very good, and culturally relevant to mid 90’s Britain.
Tom Waits — Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)
“No one speaks English and everything’s broken” – I’m sure plenty of us have been there at some point, personally I’ve actually been there in Copenhagen.
The Doors – Alabama Song
There are two types of drunks; the jovial up for a laugh type, and the mean bastard kind. Jim Morrison was allegedly the second, but still an amazing writer and a great song.
Cat Power – Lived in Bars
This song walks a fine line between jubilant celebratory drinking and bitter self loathing. It’s a bit haunting and beautiful whichever way you choose to take the lyrical message.
Blur – You’re So Great
Another entry from Blur, unusual because Graham Coxon takes over singing duties from Damon Albarn. Coxon, who has had his own issues with alcohol, also wrote the track, and it sounds like a trailer for his later solo albums.