Cocktails & Spirits

12 Songs About Booze

There's no shortage of drinking songs -- here's a list of 360 of 'em -- but not all that many about specific liquors or cocktails. That's sort of odd, considering how alcohol and live music go hand in hand. 

According to musicologists, drinking songs can be Irish (like Ween's "The Blarney Stone") or they can be written by Merle Haggard.

George Jones is probably the king, with more than ten drinking songs (more on him later). Legendary beer lunatics Guided by Voices have only four.

12. Red, Red Wine by UB40.

The British reggae outfit had a big hit with this in the early 1980s, but we all know Neil Diamond wrote it.

11. St. Ides Heaven by Elliot Smith
Oh, Elliot. Couldn't you have stuck around a few more years and written a few more lines like, "Everything is exactly right/When I walk around here drunk every night/With an open container from 7-Eleven"?

10. Champagne From a Paper Cup by Death Cab for Cutie
Indie stalwarts Death Cab for Cutie weren't well-known when their debut, Something About Airplanes, was released in 1998, but this song showcased the songwriting and atmospherics that would mark their later work. 

9. Cold Gin by Kiss
In 1974, Kiss was out to shock and offend. This song argues that cold gin can keep a relationship together in tough times. The late Dimebag Darrell of Pantera claimed this as his favorite song.

8. Pink Champagne by Joe Liggins
"Pink champagne that left me feeling blue," went this post-WWII jump-blues classic. Much later, Venus Hum wrote a completely modernized take on the concept, and it's nice too.

7. Jesus and Tequila by the Minutemen
At two minutes, 52 seconds long, "Jesus and Tequila" was an extended epic by Minutemen standards of brevity. Part of 1984's outstanding Double Nickels on the Dime, "Jesus and Tequila" was later covered by desert rats Calexico.

6. One Mint Julep by Ray Charles
One of the first drinking songs to hit in the jump-blues days, "One Mint Julep"'s irony is that a black dude is getting bombed on a drink usually associated with Kentucky Derbies and white Southern aristocracy.

5. Rye Whiskey by Nick Cave
A traditional standard not quite up to the lyrical level Mr. Cave generally occupies, it's still a great old to drinking: "They say I drink whiskey/My money's my own/All them that don't like me/Can leave me alone."

4. More Beer by Fear
John Belushi's favorite band, who appeared on SNL in 1981 and left $20,000 in damages in their wake. The band outlived their benefactor, and singer Lee Ving still tours under the Fear banner.

Yes, George Thorogood made this a hit, but he's such a tool. The John Lee Hooker version isn't slick. It's gritty and sticky and sorta woozy.

2. Gin and Juice by Snoop Dogg
Dr. Dre helped beef up the second single off Snoop's 1994 debut. This party anthem and its accompanying video pumped the West Coast hip-hop to previously unimaginable heights. And it's still one hell of a jam. 

1. White Lightning by George Jones
Jones made this rockabilly wildcard into his first number-one single back in 1959. According to Wikipedia:
In his 1997 autobiography, I Lived to Tell It All, Jones mentions that the recording process of "White Lightning" was extremely lengthy. Jones arrived for the session under the influence of a great deal of alcohol and it took him approximately 80 takes just to record his vocals to the producer's satisfaction. To make matters worse, Buddy Killen, who played the upright bass on the recording, was reported as having severely blistered fingers from having to play his bass part 80 times. Killen not only threatened to quit the session, but also threatened to physically harm Jones for the painful consequences of Jones' drinking. 

Follow Clean Plate Charlie Facebook on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton