From pot to Ecstasy and more, artists reference drugs in their songs, but does this make drug use more acceptable to listeners?
As early as the 1963 Peter, Paul & Mary hit “Puff the Magic Dragon,” there has been speculation about veiled (or not so veiled) references to drug use in popular music. Everyone from Snoop Dogg, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors to Toby Keith, The Rolling Stones and Dave Matthews Band have all recorded songs that include perceived drug references ranging from questionable to overt. While folkies Peter, Paul & Mary insist their song is about nothing more than the loss of innocence, other artists are outspoken about their pro-drugs message.
The most recent example is Madonna, who referenced Ecstasy from stage at a recent concert. While appearing at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, the health-conscious 53 year-old reportedly went on a drug-related riff while introducing another artist, asking the crowd, “How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?” (slang for the pure form of MDMA).
While there’s no concrete proof that drug references in music make listeners more likely to experiment, experts agree it has led to a broader acceptance of the subject. We’re no longer shocked when we hear references to illegal drugs in songs that are played on the radio. And if artists and hit bands can influence things like clothing choices and hairstyles, it’s not a great stretch to imagine that their casual use of drugs will influence impressionable listeners.
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