Top 10 Songs About Being Sick
The illnesses on our list of the Top 10 Sick Songs run from common everyday shakes due to the lovesick blues to STDs. We have symptoms ranging from motormouth rhyming to temperatures breaking the 100-degree point. And we have professionals on the case, as well as some self-medicating dudes who don’t need no doctors. Any way you look at it, it sucks being sick. So call your mom for some chicken soup, snuggle up in a warm blanket and check out our list of the Top 10 Sick Songs.
Alice Cooper has said that the concept behind 1973’s ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ album was to exploit people’s perversions. And while ‘Sick Things’ features lines about fan worship and his feeding back into the process, it’s Cooper’s sinister delivery — somewhere between a cackle and a moan — that lets you know who the real sicko is here.
Mudhoney’s debut single from 1988 helped launch the coming decade’s grunge movement in both style (check out those nasty guitars and appropriately muddy mix) and content. The lyrics might be about AIDS. Or maybe they’re about the underground indie-rock movement, which most major labels and music fans were staying away from in the late-’80s. Either way, the hazy, distortion-packed ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ sounds like it’s all kinds of contagious.
David Lee Roth is suffering from a number of ailments on this cut from Van Halen’s second album, including shock, ambulatory issues and generally feeling “overloaded.” With Eddie Van Halen‘s squealing guitar nudging alongside him, who knows if that ambulance Roth calls for will make it to him in time. Still, he claims to feel no pain and says he’s “feelin’ fine.” So maybe that shot he asks for at the end of ‘Somebody Get Me a Doctor’ is for recreational purposes.
Don’t be fooled by the poker metaphor running through ‘The Jack.’ And Bon Scott sure ain’t holding a winning hand when he goes up against the woman sporting a tattoo on her left leg. This song from AC/DC’s second album is all about a sexually transmitted disease (“the jack” is another way of saying “the clap”). It becomes even more obvious on the down and dirty version found on the live album ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It.’
Bob Dylan’s rapid-fire classic — a generation’s worth of paranoia, neuroses and anxieties balled into a little more than two minutes — addresses homesickness in the same way the Cold War addressed a sale on mittens. Still, there’s enough skittering energy in the young singer-songwriter’s delivery to fuel those gas pumps he sings so nervously about in one of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues” famous sing-song verses.
Whoa! Somebody call David Lee Roth’s doctor (see No. 8 on our list of the Top 10 Songs). Lou Gramm has a temperature approaching the fever zone in Foreigner’s Top 3 hit from 1978. Maybe the sickness has clouded his rhyming skills (“You don’t have to read my mind to know what I have in mind,” he sings at one point), but it sure hasn’t affected his nether regions much. “Is my timing right?” he asks. “Did you save your love for me tonight?” He’s practically boiling.
‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ was co-written by R&B hitmakers Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson and originally recorded by Ray Charles in 1966. But it’s Humble Pie’s 1971 hit version of the song that everyone knows. And for good reason: Steve Marriott sings lines like “All I need is my baby / You know I’m in misery” with the assurance of someone for whom self-medication is second nature. Still, we’re guessing his prescription pad is bedside, just in case.
Bruce Springsteen originally recorded ‘The Fever’ for his second album, ‘The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle,’ but it remained unreleased until it was used as bait on 1999’s ’18 Tracks,’ the single-disc companion to the previous year’s odds-and-ends box set ‘Tracks.’ Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes had an FM-radio hit with it in the mid-’70s, but Springsteen’s version remains the definitive take on the song, which borrows sexual imagery and a bluesy shuffle that goes all the way back to the 1940s.
This mid-tempo rocker kicks off side two of the excellent ‘Rocks’ album, and while there’s a line about “keeping your head out of the loo,” Steven Tyler‘s malady in ‘Sick As a Dog’ is somewhat puzzling. He pulls together the canine metaphor with a feline one (“cat got your tongue”), and there’s some howling going on at the end of the song, but the lovesick guy at the center of the song may be struggling with something a bit more serious. Stage fright perhaps?
The bluesy beat driving the closing song on Led Zeppelin’s 1975 double-album opus ‘Physical Graffiti’ somewhat belies its theme about teenage groupies. Still, this is no ‘Hammer of the Gods’-style dip into hotel-room debauchery. Instead, Robert Plant takes a more reflective tone to the underage girls who threw themselves at him and his bandmates night after night. But coming at the very end of the long, ambitious ‘Physical Graffiti,’ the weariness sounds like one final victory lap by a band deep into the absolute peak of its power.