Isn't It Weird How Some Songs Sound Like Being on Coke?
We've picked five songs to soundtrack the next regrettable night you spend in a stuffy living-room somewhere.
Apart from the really bad ones—heroin, krokodil, ibuprofen—cocaine is the worst drug. It's a moreish substance for boorish sods, a grindingly joyless way to waste fifty quid and a weekend. Coke in 2017 is the narcotic of choice for people who get burgers couriered to their flats in Hackney. It's a weekend getaway for social media managers, a lifestyle choice for the houseplant generation. To be blunt about it, cocaine is rubbish.
It's rubbish for a lot of reasons, but the primary one is that unlike other drugs, coke doesn't take you anywhere. You're resolutely stuck right there in a living room or a crap pub, droning on and fucking on about Tristram Hunt and how much you need to tip at Pizza Express, pausing only to check that everyone else wants the more coke you're incredibly up for but only if everyone else is of course well why not fuck it mate it's a Saturday and we can split it yeah. Stoners have the decency to stick to giggling at Good Burger and misunderstanding books by John Berger, and the skinny lads who bosh Gold Bars week after week get a few hours of something that feels a bit like transcendence. Cokeheads get nothing but a sore nose and an inflated sense of self-worth.
That's cocaine in 2017. Way back when, it was different. How do I know it was different in those golden days of yore? Through music of course. Some music just sounds like huge lines of needlessly expensive cocaine. And that's what we're going to examine today, through five of the most snow-blind records ever pressed to blinding white vinyl. Or, rather, we're going to look at how five different songs replicate the five stages of the average cocaine experience.
1. Escape From New York - Fire In My Heart
Friday night's always the same. A tie-loosening four pints drunk at breakneck speed, as if everyone clinking glasses would never be able to sup the foamy head off a Stella ever again, followed by the same tiresome will-we-won't-we-yes-we-probably-will conversation. A bus to a flat, a bag of crisps, a box of tobacco. There's the faint scent of promise in the air, the unspoken-but-shared sensation that things might be different this time. We know they won't be, because they never are.
There's rustles, cracks, and this, over and over and over.
2. Alfonso Ribeiro - Dance Baby
Right, yeah, the fucking thing is that we all know, all of us, everyone here, all of us right, all of us here tonight, everyone who's sat here now right, yeah, all of the people here, in this room, all the people who are here right now, sat with us, all of them, right, all of them know that coke is sort of fucking shit, right, and they'll spend all week telling everyone who'll pretend to listen to them, right, that coke is crap, that they resent wasting money on it, that they're sort of, you know, bored of not being able to have that extra days holiday in Palermo because they've spunked it all on drugs again even after they told themselves they wouldn't do it again, right, and everyone's mates will go yeah actually it is a bad habit but I reckon I've got a lid on it and if you've got a lid on it then it's actually alright, because actually is it actually worse than having a few beers, because beers cost money too don't they, obviously you've got to buy a lot of beers to...fucking hell, sorry mate, lost track there, yeah, right so the thing about coke is that it's actually pretty crap but actually there's a point in the evening when you suddenly realise that you actually think it's fucking great and anyway fuck the money because you're going pescatarian soon and you'll save loads doing that so fuck it next month can wait.
"Dance Baby"—which we've written about previously here on THUMP UK—is unbridled and ecstatic, a plasticy, shimmering, effervescent ode to the powers of pure pleasure. So what if Ribiero was (probably) pre-pubescent when he recorded it?
Rack 'em up, boys!
3. Bryan Ferry - Driving Me Wild (Leo Zero Dub)
Bryan Ferry looks like cocaine. Bryan Ferry is an immaculately-suited vision in white. Bryan Ferry brings to mind neon and cocktails and swimming pools filled with the purest cocaine imaginable. County Durham's very own Dionysian avatar, is a living receptacle for every decadent fantasy we've all (briefly) entertained, of submitting yourself to a Herculean level of drug intake in the name of fun. This is, our lawyers would like to point out, nothing to do with Bryan Ferry's very real personal struggles with cocaine addiction.
Bryan Ferry—the imagined Bryan Ferry of this article, you understand—on a night like this, on a night you've started regretting as soon as you saw the first fiver rolling itself into being, will become an intentional guide. Think of him, if you will, as one of those kindly souls who hosts nature sessions for under-10s at National Trust sites, except he's teaching you about hard drugs rather than how to differentiate between pipistrelle and greater horseshoe bats.
Leo Zero's recentish, louche, elongated and chuggy-as-fuck take on "Driving Me Wild" is the sound of a night sliding into the inevitable; a manifestation of the moment when the dealer's called for the second time and you've already started drafting the sorry-I-can't-make-lunch-tomorrow text to your mum.
4. Chantal Curtis - Get Another Love
The thing about getting stuck on a coke-night is that it feels endless. There's such a rancid, forceful sense of wasted energy in the room, that the whole thing can, if played ever-so slightly wrong, descend into a hellishness—each and every participant a player in a drama that becomes devilish through sheer bloody-minded mundanity.
Get the same people together on a regular basis and they'll—unsurprisingly—have the same conversations. Throw a drug known for making even mutes chatty to the point where you'll be searching for the nearest pair of socks to shut them up with, into the mix and you've got a recipe for a uniquely disquieting kind of low-level disaster. The anxieties you'd all dispelled just a few hours, a few lines ago, are beginning to engulf the assembled throng. A collective unease is seeping into things. Cigarettes, previously a means of activating a social interaction, have become a stained crutch, the one permanent in a situation drifting into a chilly dawn.
A suitable soundtrack to this inevitable backslide is pivotal, and there's few better choices than this prime cut of semi-forgotten French disco fancy. The reason is simple: in times of emotional distress, most of us seek comfort in repetition. The repetitious is knowable, innately understandable. It poses no threats, there is nothing to fear, except the maddening thought that you, yes you, might get stuck in the cycle, forever encased in an amber-hued loop. I mean, yes, that might happen, but a lot of other things might happen too. Ignore that nagging voice, the voice I've conjured, and try and drift into a plane of infinite being courtesy of a record with one of the most iconic basslines ever.
Also, disco = cocaine abuse. Obviously.
5. Iggy Pop - Nightclubbing
As a wise man once sang, "everything must change...nothing...can remain...the same," and by jove he was right. Nothing lasts a lifetime and at some point you're going to have to accept that you're at the front of the charge of the (last of the dying) light brigade. That final dismal and desultory line, nothing more than a light dusting at best and pitiful sprinkle at worst, is accompanied by a horrifying moment of shamefaced revelation: you've fucked it again. Yet again, you've fed your money into a black hole of half-finished conversations you never wanted to start in the first place, and the room's a pallid blur of pale dregs and grey faces.
The easiest way to get yourself out of the situation you and the friends you like less and less as the weekends go by have fallen note-first into is to commandeer the Sonos and pick something just creepy enough to blast everyone into a panicked and unpleasant immediate exit. Now, obviously, you can't go in too hard—slap on We Spit on Their Graves by Sutcliffe Jügend and you'll likely never get invited back to Romily's cosy little place on Well Street.
Ignore the temptation to listen to Deathprod, or "Atmosphere" by Russ Abbott, and get Iggy on the go. "Nightclubbing," is quite possibly the most lascivious, sleazy and utterly squalid things ever released, which is quite fitting given the state him and co-writer David Bowie must have been back in 1977. It's a stumbling, shambling affair, a rootless, pathetic, and ultimately impotent examination of the joys and horrors of hedonism as a way of life. It'll have the whole gang feeling so uncomfortable that they'll have bolted out of the door before you've had a chance to say "Uber Pool, anyone?"