The biggest point I want to make here is: Please don’t misconstrue the reason for this article.
I am not condoning drug use. I do know, however, that drug overdoses were responsible for more than 80,000 deaths in the United States in 2020, according to the CDC.
So, the subject of people using heroin or other opioid drugs should not be taken lightly, but it should also not be stricken from or censored from media outlets like this one. The subject of anybody getting any kind of enjoyment out of it is pretty much taboo. But there is a reason behind why people risk their lives to indulge in it. It’s not a GOOD reason, in my opinion, but the reality is that it obviously a GOOD reason for others.
That is why I choose to write about the 1967 Velvet Underground song “Heroin” today. At first, I was just going to spotlight the song in BedrockSportsHawaii’s 97X Song of the Daze — on the site’s homepage. Yes, it is spotlighted there and you can listen it, but I also wanted to share more about the song than allows on the home page.
\If you listen to “Heroin” and pay attention to what you’re listening to, you may get more of a sense of why people choose to do it and you may get a little bit of a glimpse into what it feels like to do it.
To me, the song — with Lou Reed on vocals — is a piece of art.
It starts out pretty simple with a twangy guitar and a slow bass drum beat, perhaps signaling a heart at rest — or more likely — someone feeling down in the dumps.
The early lyrics give more hints about what’s to come: “Im gonna try for the kingdom if I can,” and soon after, “(I’m gonna) feel like Jesus’ son.”
The tempo of “Heroin” changes often from slow to fast, with the rush of the high in the faster parts, when the instruments give an impression of blood pounding through your veins.
During those speeded up portions, Reed’s voice has a giddy, satisfied sound to it, but all of that feeling of high energy belies all of negativity the user has felt in the world that he is trying to escape and so he suddenly barks out against it:
>> ” ‘Cause when the blood begins to flow/When it shoots up the dropper’s neck/When I’m closing in on death/And you can’t help me now, you guys/And all you sweet girls with all your sweet talk/You can all go take a walk”
>> Because when the smack begins to flow/I really don’t care anymore/About all the Jim-Jims in this town/And all the politicians makin’ busy sounds/And everybody puttin’ everybody else down/And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds
And then the ultimate paradox:
>> “Heroin, be the death of me/Heroin, it’s my wife and it’s my life/Because a mainer to my vein/Leads to a center in my head/And then I’m better off than dead”
Near the end of the song — during the final part of the high, so to speak — the music gets jangled and jumbled with guitar distortion, revealing to the listener that there is an impending and uncomfortable comedown.
But, before that comedown, at least he gets to get it off his chest about those who have been a nuisance in his world: the girls with the sweet talk, the Jim-Jims, and especially what is probably the biggest reason of all: “Everybody putting’ everybody else down.”
To me, that last line is the most important one. The lack of the “Love thy neighbor” ethic gets to the essence of what he’s moaning about.
The music trails off at the end, leaving the listener to determine what might come next.
Hopefully, in the real world, it would be a stop at the nearest drug addiction help center. For anyone out there needing someone to call, dial the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-4357.
There are better answers than drugs out there and if you are suffering at all from addiction or depression, my hope is you can find your answer. Both conditions or disorders are highly TREATABLE, but it’s up to you to seek out the treatment.