Cocaine is the Hardest Drug

August 4, 2008 5:32 PM

A new song. Sometimes you just find yourself writing a Johnny Cash song.

FIRSTLY, let me say that I have never used cocaine. Now let me say that I have been around the stuff my entire life. My father had huge amount of cocaine in his office when I was a boy. And it was uncut. It had to be. He is a psychopharmacologist, and was studying the effects of cocaine on prenatal chicks, or something. I never really knew what he was researching, except that cocaine was involved.

I went to high school in the Eighties, and, if you went to a relatively well-off high school, as I did, there tended to be cocaine floating around the school. The year I graduated, my alma mater, Minnetonka High School, was the subject of a cocaine bust that was supposed to be the largest in the country. When I entered the University of Minnesota in the fall, at orientation, I found myself in a group with a dozen of my fellow Minnetonka graduates. The group had a little mixer, in which we went around, introduced ourselves, named our high school, and said a little about our interests. Everyone from Minnetonka sniffed their noses meaningfully when they mentioned the high school; some rubbed their noses vigorously. Their interests? "Snow sports;" "pharmacy sciences;" "powder cosmetics," etc.

In college, I was close friends with a fellow named Kenny, who had apparently gone on a cocaine-fueled multi-state crime bender in his late teens, but had cleaned himself up. He told me that to support his habit, he used to walk into the Dayton's department store, which then had a very liberal return policy. He would go into the electronics section, grab a high-end item, and then walk up to the counter and ask to return it. Although he could not produce a receipt, the store policy was to accept returns, and so he walked out with a wad of cash. He and his girlfriend would buy a large amount of cocaine and set it on a table, and then dare themselves not to use it. "If we can't keep from using all this tonight, we are addicted," the would tell each other. The next morning, looking at the table, now empty of cocaine, they would nod their heads somberly and say "I guess we're addicted."

I worked on some projects with a fellow in Los Angeles, and he started using crack cocaine for some reason. One day I stopped by to visit him, and found him looking haggard. "I think I should stop with the crack," he told me. I asked him what had made him come to this conclusion. "Well, for the last hour, I've been crawling around on my apartment floor, trying to smoke grains of sugar or salt that I find. Finally, I was squatting over in the corner, going through the carpet, when I saw a cockroach. We stared at each other for a moment, and then it said, 'Hey! What are you doing??'"

My experience with people who have used cocaine is universally bad. Sometimes, at a party, in the john, you get trapped next to someone who has just done a line, and they start talking. They will talk frenetically for a half-hour, sweating and bug-eyed, certain that they are saying something enormously important. To me, it always sounds like this "And if I don't makethisfuckignsale I SWEAR TO GOD I will go into Danny's office and I will tell him HEISNOTGIVINGMETHESUPPORTINEED." And on, and on, and on, until finally they tell you you're an all right guy and ask if you want to share a few bumps with them. I was once at a party where two of these guys stood on either side of me, each babbling at a manic pace into my ear, unaware of each other. It's not an experience I enjoy in mono; In stereo, it's unendurable.

Coco and I were friends with a French fellow in New Orleans who had a coke problem. He was the piano player for a nightclub in the French Quarter, and we were the club's day staff. Every week, he would come into the club, exhausted and frantic, desperate for his paycheck, his hair matted to his head, his skin pale and shiny. An hour later, he would come back to the club, full of energy. He often rode up on a child's bicycle. "Where did you get that," we would ask. "Oh," he'd answer noncommittally. "I just found it."


There's a white dog walking
Down the middle of the lane
There's a car that is idling
Beneath the weather vane
There is a debt that is owed
And a man's come to collect
And all the money's gone
And all that's left it debt
Oh cocaine is the hardest drug
Cocaine is the hardest drug
Cocaine is the hardest drug
Oh Cocaine is the hardest drug

I met a girl in Denver
We spent a hundred at least per day
A mountain of white powder
And we sniffed it all away
I struck her once in anger
Then I struck her again for fun
I woke up the next morning
With all my money gone
Oh cocaine is the hardest drug
Cocaine is the hardest drug
Cocaine is the hardest drug
Oh Cocaine is the hardest drug

I dropped a dime in Reno
I did five years in Vermont
I learned two things in prison
What you need and what you want
I'm clean sometimes for weeks
But then dirty again for years
I'll swear off the cocaine
And then the cocaine just appears
Oh cocaine is the hardest drug
Cocaine is the hardest drug
Cocaine is the hardest drug
Oh Cocaine is the hardest drug

posted by Astro Zombie (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I like all your stuff, AZ, old and new; my brain usually thinks it's listening to something from another era, and it fills the background of your songs with scratches and pops.

And yes, cocaine, (shaking head)...
posted by not_on_display at 12:52 AM on August 5, 2008

Sometimes you just find yourself writing a Johnny Cash song.

Yeah, isn't that something? Actually, what I meant to say is that, beyond the lyrical references to Reno and cocaine, I don't hear any Johnny Cash here. And I'm not sure about the 'country' tag either.

I do like it, though.
posted by kingbenny at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2008

« Older Cinematheque   |   I Do It For Your Love Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments