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Addictive Music: 10 Songs About Dangerous Vices

Eric Church
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
In the 1995 comedy film “Clueless,” lead character Cher (Alicia Silverstone) offers this little nugget of wisdom: “It is one thing to spark up a doobie and get laced at parties, but it is quite another to be fried all day.” And although this particular countdown, devoted to herbal refreshment, hard liquor and mood-altering pharmaceuticals, should probably come with a warning label, we hope the above sage advice is enough to encourage you not to overindulge in the recreational activities depicted below. With apologies to the Surgeon General, The Boot presents our countdown of 10 irrepressible tunes about three all-too-irresistible vices.

10. “Smoke a Little Smoke,” Eric Church

Vice-gripped lyric: “Kick back, give the blues spin, break out the wine, just forget again/ Dig down deep, find my stash, light it up, memory crash.”

At first it seems Eric’s just looking for a good time, but he’s actually trying to put the past behind by exorcising the memory of an old love. We’ve heard that smoking a little smoke can lead to memory loss. But we can’t remember where we heard it.

Watch Eric Sing “Smoke a Little Smoke”

David Frizzell
Gusto Records

9. “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home,” David Frizzell

Vice-gripped lyric: “There’ll be ‘Monday Night Football’ on TV above the bar, and a pay phone in the hallway, when your friends can’t find their car.”

Although it sounds like a bad (or brilliant?) idea for a new show on HGTV, having a wino do interior design just so your man can stay home and drink himself into a stupor is called being an enabler. Liquor license denied!

Listen to “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino”

Todd Snider
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

8. “Alcohol and Pills,” Todd Snider

Vice-gripped lyric: “The fame don’t take away the pain, it just pays the bills and you wind up on alcohol and pills.”

Fame might be the most dangerous gateway drug of all. And no amount of celebrity can guarantee a pain-free existence. Just ask Hank, Elvis, Janis, Gram and Jimi — if only we could. Lesson to future generations: know what you’re getting into so you know better how to handle it all.

Listen to “Alcohol and Pills”

Willie Nelson
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

7. “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette),” Willie Nelson

Vice-gripped lyric: “Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate that you hate to make him wait but you just gotta have another cigarette.”

Talk about politically incorrect! Written by Merle Travis and Tex Williams in the 1940s, this “talking blues” (think country-rap) tune isn’t so much anti-smoking for health concerns. It’s about losing patience with smokers as they puff away leisurely, making you wait.

Listen to “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!”

Dierks Bentley
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

6. “Tip it on Back,” Dierks Bentley

Vice-gripped lyric: “Tip it on back, make it feel good, sip a little more than you think you should, let the smoke roll over your lips.”

Nothing cures the ills of an economic downturn quite like investing in your neighbor’s cash crop or patronizing the local liquor store (or bootlegger). This tune from Dierks’ latest album, Home, is less about a wild party and more about a relaxing, mind-altering diversion.

Listen to “Tip it on Back”

Robbie Fulks
Bloodshot Records

5. “She Took a Lot of Pills and Died,” Robbie Fulks

Vice-gripped lyric: “But something went wrong, ’cause forty years on she took a lot of pills and died.”

Young, gorgeous starlet hits the big time but the sweet ride soon screeches to a halt. It’s a short trip from a Hollywood mansion to a “hovel on the lower East side.” Although it’s a zippy little tune, the message is a sad, sobering one.

Listen to “She Took a Lot of Pills and Died”

Webb Pierce
Getty Images/Archive Photos

Vice-gripped lyric: “There stands the glass, fill it up to the brim ’til my troubles grow dim, it’s my first one today,”

Staring at an empty whiskey glass may be depressing. But looking straight down the barrel of a full glass can be dangerous. One of the greatest country songs of all time about one of its darkest, most complicated subjects.

Listen to “There Stands the Glass”

Johnny Cash
Robin Jones, Getty Images

3. “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Johnny Cash

Vice-gripped lyric: “There ain’t nothin’ short of dyin’ half as lonesome as the sound, of a sleepin’ city sidewalk.”

Forget the funny movies, there’s nothing comical about a hangover. And a hangover mingling with memories of a simpler time is even worse. So much worse, in fact, that all you long for is to just be stoned again. Sobering thoughts, indeed.

Listen to “Sunday Morning Coming Down”

George Jones
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

2. “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will),” George Jones

Vice-gripped lyric: “Lord, it’s been ten bottles since I tried to forget her, but the memory still lingers lying here on the ground.”

It’s all fun and games until someone’s passed out on the steering wheel. The lesson here, as in all of these cautionary tales, is that there are real consequences to drowning one’s sorrows in your chosen vice. Can you imagine a world without George Jones? We can’t.

Listen to “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)”

Pistol Annies
Jason Kempin, Getty Images

1. “Takin’ Pills,” Pistol Annies

Vice-gripped lyric: “Well who in the hell’s gonna pay these bills when one’s drinkin’, one’s smokin’, one’s takin’ pills.”

Holler, Lonestar and Hippie Annie have three distinct personalities — and each has a preferred vice. Our favorite line rhymes “hills of Kentucky” with “’til she lights up her Lucky” (as in Lucky Strike cigarette). We love all the clever songs, Annies, so please drink, smoke and take pills responsibly.

Watch Pistol Annies’ “Takin’ Pills” Video

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