High songs not about “mind-altering substances”

Dedicated to lyrics with double-meanings.

Could this be a bad trip?

In the 1960s, there were numerous songs, films, and other sources of entertainment that danced around the subject of mind-altering substances. “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton, and “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago were a few of the obvious songs (though people continue to argue their meanings).

Judging songs is what listeners do. We hear a song, we instantly decide whether we like it and why. Still, too many controversies have boiled around song lyrics.

I’ve compiled a list of songs that can arguably be about drugs, but I think different:


1. “Let’s Get High” by Lenny Kravitz

At first glance, any person would think this song is about getting high. However, the last line of the chorus reveals Lenny Kravitz only wants to get high on love! Kravitz is known for his recurring lyrics about love and peace, but people are quick to pass judgement on a man who was once dreadlocked and wed to hipster Lisa Bonet.

Let’s go out
On an ocean ride
Leave all your cares
And the past behind
Let’s venture out
To a deserted isle
Let’s get in touch
With what is alive

Ohhh I love you
Ohhh it’s wonderful
Ohhh it’s magical
Let’s get high
Let’s get high
Let’s get high
High on this feeling of love

2. “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” by Bob Dylan

This is known to many as “Everybody Must Get Stoned”, thus, its popular meaning error. If one removes the last line of each verse, solely listening to the prior lines, the meaning is clear. Stoning someone is a synonym for throwing stones, lashing out, humiliating. Bob Dylan had strong political opinions that oftentimes opposed social unrest, poor judgement, and war. He recognized hypocrisy in the lines “They’ll stone you and say that it’s the end. Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again.”

They’ll stone ya when you’re at the breakfast table
They’ll stone ya when you are young and able
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say “good luck”
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned.

Well, They’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned.

3. “Let’s Get Lifted” by John Legend

Getting “lifted” can be an obvious synonym for getting high, but this song is more identifiable with sex than drugs. John Legend’s Get Lifted album features a slew of songs about love, sex, cheating, and relationships in general. This song is the first track after the “Prelude” track on the album. In a way, he’s prepping his audience for rest of his songs. “You couldn’t picture this in your wildest dreams” (not shown) is informing listeners of the genius they’re about to hear. Grade “A” various-meanings song.

Let’s get lifted (lifted).
Ohh I’m gonna get you high.
I’m really gonna blow your mind.
We’ll get lifted (lifted).
You’re gonna feel it in your soul,
And baby you will lose control.
We’ll get lifted (high)
Ohhh ohhhh.

Once you take a hit of this
You won’t ever wanna quit.
You’ll be so addicted.
Said I’ll have you spinning round and round,
Crazy, making freaky sounds.
You won’t want to come down.
And I’ll have you seeing things and hallucinating
Even walking funny ’cause your legs are shaking.
All night we’ll be blazin’.
I’ll take you for a walk to the other side,
We can get high and enjoy the ride.
Hold tight, we’ll be alright.

4. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by The Beatles

I can’t count the arguments I’ve had with people concerning the meaning of this song. It is NOT about LSD. I didn’t say the band members weren’t tripping when they wrote it or recorded it, because I have no proof or knowledge of that. However, according to the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band CD sleeve, Lucy was a little girl and classmate of Julian Lennon (John’s son to his first wife). Julian drew a picture of Lucy and gave it to his father, saying it was “Lucy in the sky with diamonds”. Nothing more, nothing less. The truth is revealed!

Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green,
Towering over your head.
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes,
And she’s gone.

I’m not here to defend all musicians. I’m simply pointing out the oddity that as a society we constantly judge without knowing. Although, maybe the sneaky musicians wanted it that way.

Like any song, the interpretation is in the hands of the listener. Enjoy that freedom.

*The lyrics shown are only excerpts.

Photo Credit: Alice


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