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Monday, February 14, 2011

Drugs: Great For Music; Bad For Music's Wallet

I know that this post is a long time coming but I really wanted to plan out what I was going to say here. Drugs are often inextricably linked to music, almost all of the greatest artists at one point or another did drugs, often time to great detriment. Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Bonzo, Keith Moon, and countless other artists lost their lives to drugs and music has mourned their losses. But despite the risks associated with drug use, drugs are essential to ensuring the purity of the medium.
For starters, one must distinguish what purity entails. For me, a pure artists is an artist that makes music for the sake of self-expression, to pass along a message, or simply for the joy of making music. Those are the only areas in which a musician can make good music with a soul.

So what is soulless music? Soulless music would be music made for money, fame, glory, or any combination of the three. Commercial interests in music are not a new thing and certainly not something that's going to go away anytime soon. Music is big business and the accessibility of its nature will make it attractive to big business for as long as time will exist.

So how do drugs fit in. First thing first, we have to establish who big business wants to target when they are marketing music. I think it's safe to say that they will go after the parents. Marketing is a pure business strategy and has nothing to do with the quality of the music produced, or the quality of the listener. The only smart thing to do when trying to make money is to target the wallet. Therefore, although music might be aimed at children or teens, big record labels will eventually want the approval of the parent. After all, that's where the money lies.

And that's exactly why music needs drugs. Drugs establish music as counter culture. They turn parents off of music, which will disinterest big record labels, and as an unintended side effect attract younger listeners (after all it's cool to do what your parents hate). Sex doesn't have the same effect, after all although it may have some negative consequences it isn't nearly as harmful as drugs are. Artists signed to big labels have one main prerogative after all: to keep their images clean. Although for younger artists that may mean no sex for all artists across the board that means no drugs. Simply by being a completely negative entity drugs have the ability to distance parents and big labels along with them.  Especially in the world we live in today, where concern for children and a resistance to corruption is at its all time highest, we need musicians on drugs more than ever.

There are arguments that drugs make for better music by unlocking the mind. I neither affirm nor deny that. But drugs make for better music by requiring a love for the art form and a promise of limited success. I guess one could say that success is as bad for music as drugs are good but I don't pretend to be that much of a hipster. In fact, I may be wrong all together. It's just my take on the subject.

21 comments:

  1. Reminds me of the song Third Eye by Tool, which quotes the late comedian Bill Hicks.

    "See, I think drugs have done some *good* things for us, I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a Favor: go home tonight and take all your albums, all your tapes, and all your cd’s and burn em’. 'Cause you know what? The musicians who’ve made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years...
    Rrrrrrrrrrrrreal ------ high on drugs."
    --Bill Hicks

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  2. Where would music be with our lady mary jane?

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  3. The unlocking the mind portion of this article is absolutely true with a lot of drugs. I can tell the difference between artists who've used and those who haven't.

    Nice blog btw, follow me at guysimfreakingout.blogspot.com

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  4. There are some bands that do drugs that are good but there are also some that do drugs and really sucks.

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  5. All drugs make music better for the listener. Only LSD makes it better for the musician.

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  6. Drugs... Where do I stand? Drugs do make music better, both for the listener and the performer. People just need to learn when they've gone to far though.

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  7. So many amazing musicians lost. I think the drugs helped some of them be that amazing though.

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  8. It's all give and take. A lot of musicians have become amazing with the help of drugs, but others lost themselves to it.

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  9. More they do the better the music, also the faster they burn out. Only a few have done just enough drugs to stay around to make more music

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  10. Uhh.. 'mind unlocking' is merely an excuse. It reduces promising musicians to trash in the long run. In most cases anyway, and exceptions are so rare they're barely worth taking into an account.

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  11. The most badass musicians die from heroin

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  12. Hell yeah I like that let's bring drugs back to music. Let's just lace all these popular musicians food with acid and see if anything good comes out

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  13. Yeah i'd say it requires a lot of self control to do drugs within limits and continue to pump out good music without deteriorating

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  14. Watch the movie 'Such Hawks, Such Hounds'

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  15. Of course, drugs are very active in music performances :/

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  16. @Robert Fünf Took the words out of my mouth
    Bill Hicks is a good cunt
    Seen Tool live :)

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  17. great short essay and kudos to robert for drawing the bill hicks parallel!

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