Top 10 ‘Breaking Bad’ Songs
When we last watched ‘Breaking Bad,’ we were left halfway through the fifth and final season with the assumption that Walter White (a.k.a. meth kingpin Heisenberg) had been “found out” by his drug enforcement agent brother-in-law, Hank Schrader. This, all while Schrader was on the can. While a lot of questions remain unanswered going into the second-half premiere on Aug. 11, one thing is clear: This show may be one of the most addictive drugs on the market. And to get you in the mood for the big night, we’ve put together a list of classic rock songs that mention methamphetamines. Let’s just say they’re cookin’.
Bonus song! Ozzy Osbourne and company have never been big on subtlety — and we love them for that. So when they address the meth epidemic that’s hurting so many people on this track from their most recent album, only a fool would think they’re glorifying or promoting this terrible drug: “Hallucinating in a chemical hell / Ain’t my idea of having fun / Synthetic overload you’re under its spell / Your super nightmare’s just begun.”
Well, ain’t that some s—. We were always under the impression that B-B-B-Bennie and his Jets were just all about the ‘electric boots’ and ‘mohair suits’ — a.k.a. high fashion — but apparently, ‘Bennies’ is a slang term for a different type of high: amphetamines. We recently read that Elton used to regularly out-drug-take pal Rod Stewart, so this song officially makes way more sense. Hey, if Walt and Jesse ever need a hook-up, all they’ll need to do is jump in a time machine and hit up old Reggie Dwight.
As every ‘Breaking Bad’ fan knows, Walt and Jesse’s cooking process — whether it be in the old RV or in the secret basement of Gus Fring’s laundry factory — was an exact science. And in The Boss’ tune ‘Sinaloa Cowboys,’ he pretty much provides folks with the recipe for making meth. No wonder this one didn’t show up on the radio!
Unlike the Byrds (excluding David Crosby, of course), who were all on a variety of drugs but only wrote about drugs once (see below), the Velvet Underground loved writing about them — for godssake, they have a song called ‘Heroin.’ And as it were, the VU’s ‘White Light/White Heat’ is all about the fruits of Jesse Pinkman and Walter White’s loins: meth. This leaves us wondering: What wasn’t Lou Reed and company on?
Lemmy Killmister — he of Motorhead and giant wart fame — was in a psych-rock band in his younger days that sounds surprisingly like modern rockers Queens of the Stone Age. One of their songs? ‘Motorhead,’ sans the umlaut over the o. And guess what? It’s about speed — a.k.a. less pure meth. Basically, Tuco Salamanca’s above-average product. Lemmy re-recorded this song as the first track on the first side of Motorhead’s self-titled debut, as well.
On Canned Heat’s second album, ‘Boogie with Canned Heat,’ the band cooked up its own late-’60s version of the now-famous ‘This is your brain on drugs’ PSA about the dangerous effects of taking too much speed/meth. The song is called ‘Amphetamine Annie.’ The message is shouted loud and clear at about the 0:56 mark, when the band yells, “SPEED KILLS!” Heisenberg would not be very pleased.
From the 1968 album ‘The Notorious Byrd Brothers,’ ‘Artificial Energy’ is the only Byrds song — the band has joked — that they actually wrote about taking drugs (‘Eight Miles High’ is often thought to be a drug tune; it’s actually about flying to London for the first time). The entire song is about one crazy night, high on meth, which is actually name-dropped in the song (“I’m coming down off amphetamines”). The narrator gets a little too bonkers and kills “the Queen,” which makes us think of that Reggie Jackson scene in ‘Naked Gun.’
You know Pumpkin-pie-haircutted Paul Simon and his
afroed pal Artie Garfunkel were doing tons of drugs in the ‘60s (don’t let those good-boy looks fool you). Simon’s song ‘Blessed’ from the 1966 Simon & Garfunkel album ‘Sounds of Silence’ features the tasty line “Blessed are the meth drinkers, pot sellers, illusion dwellers.” Apparently, you could actually drink meth like Kool-Aid back in those days and not die. Take notes, Heisenberg, takes notes.
Featured both on Steppenwolf’s 1968 debut and the 1969 soundtrack for movie ‘Easy Rider,’ ‘The Pusher’ is about as sinister a song as you’ll get about the drug trade — and this, of course, makes us immediately think of meth master Heisenberg, the black-top-hatted menace that is also Walter White. Will he evade authorities in these last ‘Breaking Bad’ episodes, or will he be damned?
‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’
This song was prominently featured in the last half-season of ‘Breaking Bad’ and syncs up wonderfully with Heisenberg’s blue meth business model — which brother-in-law Hank Schrader is now supposedly onto (as per the holy-crap, half-season finale). Co-songwriter Tommy James claims he didn’t write the song about drugs, but for a guy who also wrote a wavy little song called ‘Crimson and Clover,’ which is drenched in LSD-laden psychedelia, we gotta imagine he was on at least something when he wrote it.
Jefferson Airplane knows quite a bit about getting high, we feel, from all their drug-induced songs — especially from ‘Surrealistic Pillow.’ During those crazy camera shots when Jesse Pinkman smokes or shoots meth, we can imagine his insides running three-fifths of a mile in the time between he picks up his pipe or needle and gets high (about 10 seconds, yo). Will he be able to break the habit? We shall find out soon enough.