Drugs, addiction and artistic creativity

Many artists have probably written their greatests songs “under the influence”. We may ask: what is the relation between drugs, drug addiction and artistic creativity?

Why do songs sound more colorful and more intense when they were written under drugs’ influence?
Maybe because they help the artist to have a better self control, maybe he doesn’t feel the stress and the pressure of being obliged to produce something real good.

There must be something true in Bill Hicks’ statement:

“…drugs have done some good things for us. If you don’t think drugs have done good things for us then do me a favor [sic]. Go home tonight and take all of your records, tapes and all your CD’s and burn them. Because, you know all those musicians who made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years? Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreal fucking high on drugs, man.”

It is a secret for nobody of us that the “Slim Shady LP” has been produced while Eminem and Dr Dre were enjoying some ecstasy.

In one of his songs “Let’s Get High”, Dr Dre talks about the effects of ecstasy:

“Yeah — I just took some Ecstasy
Ain’t no tellin what the side effects could be
All these fine bitches equal sex to me
plus I got this bad bitch layin next to me
No doubt, sit back on the couch
Pants down, rubber on, set to turn that ass out
Laid the bitch out, then I put it in her mouth
Pulled out, nutted on a towel and passed out…”

“I’m Shady” and “Drug Ballad” are all about drugs Eminem used to take. I like both songs very much and what I admire most is the poetic way Eminem manages to describe his addiction. But he also manages to do much more if you listen to “Drug Ballad” carefully: the rythm of the song, the way he spreads his words introduces you in the world of addictiveness. You can easily feel what he feels like everything spinning all around him.

In the “Devil’s Night” song, Bizarre says:

“Taking drugs is cool
That’s why I buy ’em”

His statement is sarcastic. You will realize it while discovering the next sentence:

“Shoot ’em in my ass
Let your little brother try ’em
Ten years is what I’m facing
Police breaking in my house”

So are drugs really that cool? Shall we believe James Kent when he states : “Drugs are cool, but you may not be…”

I found his original theory about drugs on this website:

http://66.102.11.104/search?q=cache:6rjH66-y3U0J:www.tripzine.com/features.asp%3Fid%3Dcool+drugs+and+artistic+creation&hl=en

Although you may strongly disagree with him, it is worth checking out. James Kent also argues that “drugs often give people cool thoughts and inspire people to create cool things”. I am not here to debate whether taking drugs is cool or not, but rather on how drugs may influence artistic creation.
I’m not an addict nor a big substance user, but my few months experience with cannabis makes me think that weed can help us to relax and that it certainly changes our perception of things. Because of this change of perceptions and of sensations, I do think that weed might be helpful to artistic creation. You don’t see nor feel things the same way you did after smoking a blunt.

That might explain the colorful descriptions and impressions of songs like “Purple Pills”.
Because he probably understood the impact of mescaline on artistic creation, Aldous Huxley talks about mescaline in very poetic terms:

“To make this trivial world sublime,
Take a half a gramme of phanerothyme.”

The now very respected Beatles also used to take drugs. Who would deny that some of their songs are sublime? The song “Hey Jude” is all about the use of heroin, though…

But don’t misinterpret me in my statements: they aren’t an invitation to take drugs in any case. Drugs are bad for health. They might make you feel cool, but they can also alter your sense of reality and make you more vulnerable than you think you are.
Remember that, even at the time Eminem was taking lots of illegal substances, his introduction of the Slim Shady LP sounds like a warning to the youth: “Don’t do drugs”.

If well known and talented artists have felt the need of using drugs, you don’t have to do the same to feel like them. Just close your eyes and be ready to fly. Follow the sound of the music and the voice of the artist will lead you into his hidden and colorful universe.

3 thoughts on “Drugs, addiction and artistic creativity”

  1. It’s like the ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’?
    It’s due to the fact that portals and/or thought processes that people generally tend not to want to use,or are not able to use whilst employing the one third of their consious brain associated with normal functionality, are open……………..to interpretation.

  2. wow i never new that they were on extacy when they mad that album and other drugs. i guess it makes u more creative and better musicly because they fuckin can make some good music 4 sher.

  3. The song Hey jude is not about the use of herion i have facts to prove so so if u could please show me your reason for saying this i would be garateful

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