If good things come in pairs than bad things just rain down like the ashes of an atomic bomb. If you follow the Catholic faith (or believe in the cruelty of forced asceticism) then you know that today is Ash Wednesday–otherwise known as the first day you give up all your favorite vices for Lent. Fittingly, it's also No-Smoking Day in the United Kingdom. As fans of rebelling against everything that could be possibly good for us, we are celebrating this day of renunciation by giving you our Ten Favorite Songs About Smoking:
10. Rufus Wainwright–“Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk”
Theatrical singer-songerwriter Rufus Wainwright is known for his witty lyrical sojourns into hedonism. “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” is his best example of a life both delightfully enhanced yet inevitably tainted by one's predilections for vice. Wainwright adroitly confesses that his naughty cravings are not only regulated to smoking with the lyrics “cigarettes and chocolate milk/these are just a couple of my cravings/everything it seems I like's a little bit stronger/a little bit thicker/ little bit harmful for me.”
9. Patsy Cline–“Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray”
A housewife's tear-inducing worst nightmare, Patsy Cline's “Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray” tells the story about how Cline's chain-smoking ball-and-chain has found another woman to share his pack of Lucky Strikes with. When she begins her song with the crooning of “three cigarettes in an ashtray,” we readily assume a carnal ménage à trois until Cline begins her lament that she “watched her take him from me/And his love is no longer my own/Now they are gone, and I sit alone/And watch one cigarette burn away.”
8. Oasis–“Cigarettes & Alcohol”
Debaucherous Brit rock lads Oasis have surely fallen into bigger pits of depravity than that of cigarettes and alcohol, but that doesn't stop Noel Gallagher from using these two perfectly legal and socially acceptable acts of decadence as metaphors for bigger transgressions that might keep a person from realizing their full rock star potential: “Is it my imagination/Or have I finally found something worth living for?/I was looking for some action/But all I found was cigarettes and alcohol.”
7. The Kinks–“Harry Rag”
British rhyming slang for a “fag” (or cigarette) and the name of popular British jockey at the time, The Kinks' “Harry Rag” tells a bleak story of the working class people of England. No matter what their daily hardships may be, they can find momentary respite in simple pleasures like a “harry rag, harry rag/Do anything just to get a harry rag/And I curse myself for the life I've led/And roll myself a harry rag and put myself to bed.”
6. Nick Drake–“Been Smoking Too Long”
Although this song is most likely about smoking opiates, singer-songwriter Nicke Drake's melancholy grumble is a lo-fi journey into the depression of addiction, “Well in this blues I'm singin'/There's a lesson to be learned/Don't go around smokin'/Unless you want to get burned.”
5. Tex Williams–“Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette”
Written in 1947, much of the hilarity in Tex Williams' novelty country song, “Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette,” are his outdated claims that despite smoking his whole life without his health suffering, he'd like to murder the guy who invented cigarettes: “But if me and a certain character met that guy that invented the cigarette/I'd murder that son of a gun in the first degree/That ain't that I don't smoke myself and I don't reckon they'll injure your health/I've smoked 'em all my life and I ain't dead yet.”
4. Siouxsie and the Banshees–“Nicotine Stain”
Forever the refrain of the sobering-up punk rock girl greeting the dawn, '80s goth goddess Siouxsie Sioux tells a musical story about the meditative comfort of that last cigarette which draws the debauchery of the previous night to a conclusion, “It's just a habit/When I reach to the packet/For my last cigarette/Until the day breaks/And then my hand shakes/But it it's just driving me insane/When the smoke gets in my brain/I can't resist it.”
3. Benny Spellman–“Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)”
Written by master songwriter Allen Touissaint, Benny Spellman's “Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)” debuted in 1962 and heralded a time when the world was first learning about the malignant nature of chemically-enchanced nicotine. While the song may have been about a woman leaving a man with only “lipstick traces on a cigarette” and “every memory lingers with me yet,” it could also be a bittersweet love song to the demise of reckless chain-smoking.
2. Otis Redding–“Cigarettes and Coffee”
People only familiar with Otis Redding's innocent classic, “(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay” are missing out on the sexy soul of many of Redding's other songs. In “Cigarettes and Coffee,” the listener gets a glimpse into the playful lust of Redding's romantic life with blantant innuendo like, “I would love to have another drink of coffee now/And please, darling, help me smoke this one more cigarette now/I don't want no cream and sugar/'Cause I've got you, now, darling.”
And our favorite song about smoking is …
1. Brownsville Station–“Smokin' in the Boys Room”
Brownsville Station's school rebel anthem “Smokin' in the Boys Room” has been covered by many other rock musicians who remember their first taste of anarchy in a sneaked drag of a Marlboro. The best part of the song (and probably why it maintains freshness despite aging) is how Brownsville Station know smoking is bad and against the rules, but they just don't care: “Smokin' in the boys' room (Yes indeed, I was)/Smokin' in the boys' room/Now, teacher, don't you fill me up with your rules/But everybody knows that smokin' ain't allowed in school.”
What is your favorite songs about smoking? Let us know in the comments!
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