There are countless songs about drinking in rock 'n' roll — wild parties, late nights, excess to the max. Understandably, there are fewer songs about not drinking, or in some cases, the general consequences of alcohol.

As any rock star who's been in the business long enough will probably tell you, the repercussions of overindulgence include everything from mild hangovers to lost friendships to, in the worst of cases, death. (An important note: For those facing issues with substance abuse, help is available 24/7.)

So whether you're participating in Dry January or your new year's resolution is to imbibe a little less, these songs might help remind you of your goal.

1. "Alcohol," The Kinks
From: Muswell Hilbillies (1971)

"Here is a story about a sinner," begins the Kinks' "Alcohol." What follows is an awfully sad tale about a man who will drink anything at all — "Port, pernod or tequila / Rum, scotch, vodka on the rocks" — in an effort to forget his troubles. But the habit lands him in even more trouble with his wife, job and bank account.


2. "Living Life by the Drop," Stevie Ray Vaughan
From: The Sky Is Crying (1991)

Stevie Ray Vaughan struggled with alcoholism for a number of years, but in 1986, he completed rehab and went back on the road sober. He remained that way until his death in 1990, and it unquestionably made him an expert in how alcohol can consume a person's life. This is more or less the premise of "Living Life by the Drop."


3. "Suicide Solution," Ozzy Osbourne
From: Blizzard of Oz (1980)

Ozzy Osbourne's "Suicide Solution" came out in 1980. Six years later, it was the subject of a lawsuit filed against Osbourne for being the "proximate cause" of 19-year-old John Daniel McCollum's death, who shot and killed himself while listening to the first side of Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz album. Osbourne would later clarify that by "solution" he was referring to alcohol being a liquid: "Wine is fine, but whiskey's quicker / Suicide is slow with liquor.) (Crisis resources are available 24/7.)


4. "Amazing," Aerosmith
From: Get a Grip (1993)

There is no direct mention of alcohol in Aerosmith's "Amazing" from 1993, but it's pretty clear that the song is about leaving booze behind. Steven Tyler, another artist who has openly struggled with substance abuse, completed a rehabilitation program in 1986, and evidently felt compelled to reassure Aerosmith fans who might be struggling themselves. "So from all of us at Aerosmith to all of you out there," he says at the end of the track, "wherever you are, remember: the light at the end of the tunnel may be you. Goodnight."


5. "Sober," Tool
From: Undertow (1993)

"The song and video are based on a guy we know who is at his artistic best when he's loaded," Tool guitarist Adam Jones explained of "Sober" in 1994. "A lot of people give him shit for that. I don't tell people to do or not do drugs. You can do what you want, but you have to take responsibility for what happens."


6. "Say It Ain't So," Weezer
From: Weezer (1994)

When Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo was small, his father, an alcoholic, left the family. Several years later, Cuomo arrived home from high school one day to find a bottle of beer in the fridge and feared the worst: his step-father would wind up leaving the family too. "This bottle of Steven's awakens ancient feelings," he sings in "Say It Ain't So," the song he was subsequently inspired to write. "I was an angry young man," Cuomo told Rolling Stone in 2014. "I was quick to point the finger."


7. "Passenger Side," Wilco
From: A.M. (1995)

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco is the intoxicated narrator in "Passenger Side," while a sober friend drives. This, of course, is a responsible choice, but before long he starts wishing he was actually the one behind the wheel — both literally and figuratively — a switch that ultimately could lead to something disastrous. "Should've been the driver / Could've been the one / I should've been your lover, but I hadn't seen."


8. "The Bottle Let Me Down," Merle Haggard
From: Swinging Doors (1966)

Those who attempt to find relief at the bottom of a liquor bottle usually find there's nothing there but more anguish. Merle Haggard knew this. "Tonight your memory found me much too sober," he sings in "The Bottle Let Me Down. "Couldn't drink enough to keep you off my mind."


9. "It Gets Easier," Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
From: Reunions (2020)

Jason Isbell has been sober since 2012, a decision he explained to in 2023 as  a "conscious effort to be as grateful as possible." Since then, Isbell has written a number of songs that touch on the idea of sobriety and the challenges it can bring, like in 2020's "It Gets Easier." In it the narrator dreams they're drinking again, which brings up a wave of unfortunate memories.


10. "Sunday Morning Coming Down," Kris Kristofferson
From: Kristofferson (1970)

The thing that follows a drunken Saturday night is a Sunday morning hangover, which, in this Kris Kristofferson song, is tamed with a beer for breakfast. When the weekend fun is over, the booze often comes back around to bite you.

Sobriety Stories: 37 Rock Artists Who Have Achieved Recovery

These musicians faced their substance abuse issues head-on. 

Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp

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