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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spiritualized's Five Best Lyrics About Drugs

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 8:44 AM

click to enlarge The cover art for Spiritualized's upcoming Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
  • The cover art for Spiritualized's upcoming Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

It's not entirely rare to find a music artist who is defined by a particular concept. However, there may not be one as rigidly and as hysterically defined as Jason Pierce. For the Spiritualized frontman, that concept is addiction. Of course, Pierce is largely responsible for this; his lyrics conjure up images of Romantic poets like Percy Bysshe Shelley, complete with all the laudanum partaking and the desire to explore those intoxicated, inner realms of existence.

However, one could also pin partial blame on admirers of Pierce in the music press. Remember that scene in Being John Malkovich where the flick's namesake crawls into the portal to his own mind? And the dialogue consists of everyone saying "Malkovich" over and over? When fans and writers listen to Pierce speak during interviews, it's almost like a similar phenomenon takes place. "Drugs? Drugs drugs drugs. Drugs ... drugs. Drugs!" Over the course of Spiritualized's career, we've found it exceptionally difficult to discuss and dissect his art without mentioning narcotics.

In keeping with this practice -- and in honor of the group's new release, Sweet Heart Sweet Light, whose release has been pushed back to April 17 -- here's a list of our five favorite drug-related Spiritualized lyrics.

"If I Were With Her Now" (1992)

"You gave me drugs / You said would cure my ills / They may cure yours / But mine were with me still"

Pierce likely didn't intend it as such, but these lines sound a tad Richard Ashcroft-like. So what happens when the drugs don't work? Well, you just ingest larger quantities. And on a more regular basis. Quick aside: Back in 2005, these lyrics took on new meaning when Pierce was hospitalized with quite serious ills -- double pneumonia -- and nearly died. "I was wasted," he said in an interview with the Guardian, "but I feel wasted quite often."

"Come Together" (1997)

"So little J's a fucked-up boy / Who dulled the pain that killed the joy / And little J's a fucking mess / But when he's offered just says yes"

Swear to God, roughly one-third of Erik Morse's book Spacemen 3 & the Birth of Spiritualized is dedicated to cataloging the drugs Pierce and former bandmate Pete Kember's consumed. Growing up, the pair truly said yes to everything: acid, mushrooms, cocaine, amphetamines, prescription drugs, heroin. Our personal favorite anecdote involved Pierce and Kember sniffing butane (butane!) and the latter hallucinating so deeply that he believed a "berserker Viking" was about to kill him.

"The Straight and the Narrow" (2001)

"The trouble with the straight and the narrow / Is it's so thin I keep sliding off to the side"

In Morse's book, Kember recalls an incident where Pierce and he swallowed a bit of palfium, a narcotic that packs more of a punch than morphine. Pierce began to overdose and only a quick-thinking Kember, who plunged his mate in a bathtub of cold water, prevented an O.D. catastrophe. True or not, it may be the only story we can recall where Pierce's habit brought him to the brink of death. He's either exceptionally lucky or made of adamantium. "The thing is, I never usually get ill," Pierce said in that aforementioned interview with the Guardian. "I mean, I'm like Keith Richards."

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Ryan Foley

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