Drugs and making music

I realized recently that I don’t really know that much about drugs.  Like most people I have impressions from movies, I have some experiences with users, but I never had a drug phase and if I’m being honest I’m pretty much a square in that regard.  I’ve decided that any time I’m talking about them, I’m talking about things outside my experience and am just talking out of ignorance.  So maybe I should shut up from now on.

But for the time being I won’t.  Someone asked me the other day whether drinking helps me play music better.  The answer is no.  It makes me want to do anything besides play music.  And the handful of times I tried to have some drinks and then write music… the results were so terrible I don’t do it anymore.

I might agree that a beer or two helps me loosen up.  I might.  I’ve heard lots of people say that there is a sweet spot where after a few beers they can play pool or darts better because they’re relaxed.  I’m not sure that’s true.  I am naturally skeptical of just about everything and I wonder if it’s not just a case of relaxing enough not to get upset about all the terrible shots you make.  Or, in the case of music, all the notes you miss.  I played a show for the first time in a while having had nothing to drink and I thought- wow, I actually am pretty competent.  I have been trying to make a habit of that since.

I don’t really think drugs open your mind.  I don’t think drinking does.  I don’t think it makes people more creative.  Anyone can write psychedelic music- you don’t have to be high for that.  It’s a formula, an easy one really.  Either write down your dreams or just tell a non-linear story and use adjectives that don’t fit.  That’s all there is to it.  The only thing I can think of is that drugs might give someone the courage to share the art they created.  Playing a song for someone or showing them your painting doesn’t make you creative it makes you brave.

I shouldn’t say that drugs or drinking don’t do anything for creative people.  It does give you stories.

Is it worth it?  I don’t think so.  I drink beer because I like drinking beer, not because I’m trying to become the next Hunter S Thompson.  I’m certainly not going to start drinking all day hoping some sad, poignant shit happens to me.   How much of the idea that drinking makes someone more creative is really about the fact that a lot of people don’t agree that you should do something pleasurable for its own sake?  I wonder about that.

I’m kind of rambling here, but it’s something I wonder about.  Maybe other people are different, but I hear people who aren’t notably creative saying “wow, that guy must have done a ton of drugs” and to me that diminishes someone’s accomplishment.  More than anything else being creative takes work.



  1. I get plastered on red wine some nights, simply I like getting drunk on it and nothing else. Btw, “just tell a non-linear story and use adjectives that don’t fit”. Ok, I shall try that one day!

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