Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Two Current critics choose their favorite drinking songs

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Billie Holiday’s “One For My Baby (AND One More For the Road)”

There’s a whole cannon of Holiday’s material we could choose from, but it’s her rendition of the standard “One More For My Baby (And One More For the Road)” that’s top shelf, an aching last-call confession to her bartender on a love affair gone awry. Go ahead, line up the nightcap (preferably something strong) and let Lady Day set the soundtrack to your true lush life. — JDS


Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice

We all know Snoop’s down with the chronic, but cottonmouth needs a cure. The tonic’s not required (he’s got juice), as Compton’s preeminent pothead takes the ’50s businessman’s lunch for a picnic where there’s plenty of green. “Rolling down the street smoking indo, sipping on gin and juice,” he sings, and mentally we supply the equal sign as he pauses a beat before exhaling: “Laidback.” In probably rap’s finest lyrical palindrome, he admits he’s got his “mind on my money and my money on my mind.” — CP



AC/DC’s “Have A Drink On Me

The pushy bastard insists 20 times in a four-minute song, which is, perhaps, not uncommon for the already intoxicated. Like Snoop, Brian Johnson recommends mixing dope and alcohol. Of course, he’ll mix anything. “Sour mash and cheap wine” with “tequila [and] white lightnin’ … whiskey, ice, and water,” — all are recommended as Johnson comes off as an even better mixologist than Amy Winehouse. (Too soon? John Bonham maybe?) You’ll find no bigger fan of alcohol escapism than Johnson: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, take it today… we’ll get Hell to pay.” It’s a fine plan until the devil finds you the next morning and takes it out on your ass. — CP





NWA’s “8-Ball”

It’s the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where “Eazy-E’s in effect and got the 8-ball rollin.” On his way to the liquor store with a 40 oz. of Olde English in his lap (“cold as hell”), our (anti-)hero dodges a cop, hits on a big-butted girl (“look at her face and the girl was to the curb”), flips off a caddy (“almost wrecked the ‘6-4”), and pulls steel on a “sucka punk.” Later, he’s hammered at a party, throws up (“see Easy hurlin’ in the parking lot?”), three girls tell him “your breath smells,” steps on another girl’s toe asking her to dance, causing a confrontation in which he knocks out a guest. He’s Larry David with a jheri curl and a gat. — CP





Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey”

Also known as a poor man’s mimosa, “Brass Monkey,” as referenced by the Beasties, is a mixture of malt liquor and orange juice — a very funky monkey indeed. (Traditionally, Brass Monkeys had been one part each vodka and dark rum with orange juice.) When Adrock says he’s “got a castle in Brooklyn/that’s where I dwell,” you have to wonder if the castle’s white. — CP








Willie Nelson’s “Bloody Mary Morning”

Willie Nelson’s not the first country boy to come back from Los Angeles a little poorer and a lot wiser. Willie’s not one to surrender, but an alcohol-fueled retreat/stay-cation in Houston is the recommended prescription for a broken heart. Of course, that begins with a good-morning-you’re-flying-the-friendly-skies Bloody Mary. He’s feeling smoggy and hazy like the L.A. weather, confessing to the cliché’s essential truth: “The pitfalls of the city are extremely real… temptation and deceit’s the order of the day.” — CP




Todd Snider’s “Beer Run”

It could be part of college orientation with a melody off Sesame Street: “B, Double E, Double R-U-N, Beer Run!” It even comes with instructions: “All we need is a 10 and fiver, a car and key, and a sober driver.” In the story, two frat boys “mistakenly” buy funny cigarettes off a hippie and end up thirsty and hungry, but later find another helpful hippie who saves the day. They go off singing Robert Earl Keen’s “The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends.” One dog and a train — the perfect country song. — CP




Eagles’ “Tequila Sunrise”

Sort of the flipside for “Bloody Mary Morning,” “Tequila Sunrise” was the Eagles’ second big hit (after “Desperado”), which helped establish their country light-rock credentials. “She wasn’t just another woman… Take another shot of courage/ Wonder why the right words never come, you just get numb.” Of course, that numbness could be the after-effect of too much cocaine (the subject of their subsequent album, Hotel California). — CP






The Replacements’ “Here Comes a Regular”

Consider this the dark underbelly of Cheers. Singer Paul Westerberg describes the scene as “a picture on the fridge that’s never stocked with food.” Needless to say, the emptiness goes unfilled. Westerberg says he’s “sick of everything that my money can buy,” and characterizes himself as “the fool who wastes his life.” Stepping out of the bar, he turns his back “on a pay-you-back, last call.” The imagery’s bleak as autumnal leaves blow past, bearing the promise of coming snow. Pretty much the polar opposite of “Margaritaville,” it’s a powerful portraiture of booze’s desultory side. — CP




Black Flag’s “TV Party”

Black Flag raises a glass to everything our culture stands for: state-sanctioned agoraphobia. “We’ve got nothing better to do,” the gang chorus intones, “than watch TV and have a couple brews.” They wonder why even venture into public when it seems so frightful. “I wouldn’t be without my TV for a day or even a minute,” they sing. “Don’t bother to use my brain any more — there’s nothing left in it.” It’s a perfect sardonic spit take on suburban anomie over slashing spazz-punk guitar, writhing bass, and rabid handclaps. Only the names have changed, from That’s Incredible! and The Jeffersons to Survivor and Two and a Half Men. — CP






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