Ode to Sobriety

A song that inverts Ode to Intoxication, sometimes softly, sometimes far more harshly. These usually come in one of three forms:

The "Deconstructed Ode to Intoxication" Ode to Sobriety would be an Ode to Intoxication except the song is about the singer's (or writer's) near-death from an OD, an addiction he or she actually wants to escape or has gone into treatment for, someone's suicide from alcohol and/or drugs, (on the lighter side) how embarrassing people act while drunk, or about anything else that is on the less fun side of intoxication.

The "Drugs Are Bad" Ode to Sobriety is usually engaged in by Straight Edge bands or artists, though others can occasionally do it (a common instance with non Straight Edge artists is generally focused on a specific substance). As opposed to the ambivalent, bitter reflections of the Deconstructed Ode to Intoxication, it is simply Drugs Are Bad as a song. It's a condemnation/callout of a specific substance and/or its users, and/or of alcohol or drug use in general.

The "Glad to Be Sober" Ode to Sobriety results from an artist successfully overcoming an addiction or quitting an abusive pattern of alcohol or drug use — and writing a song about how good being sober and free of said addiction is. It differs from the bitter Deconstructed Ode to Intoxication in that it's a Lighter and Softer topic (e.g. happiness about a drug-free life) as opposed to a Grim Dark one (e.g. about almost dying from an OD) and from the Drugs Are Bad song in that it's not a rant about how bad drugs are.

Given human nature, many an Ode to Sobriety is sung as a Drunken Song. (The Irish folk song "The Wild Rover"—about a man giving up his wild drinking ways—is very popular in pubs.)


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     Deconstructed Ode To Intoxication  

  • "I Want to Be Straight" by Ian Dury And The Blockheads — could be this, could be parody.
  • "The High Cost of Living" by Jamey Johnson.
  • "Sunday Morning Coming Down" by Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash.
  • "Kickstart My Heart" by Mötley Crüe. Also a classic example of Lyrical Dissonance — it's about Nikki Sixx's near-death via OD.
    • Speaking of Nikki Sixx, just about every song in the album Heroin Diaries from his side project Sixx AM is this. To be expected, however, because it is all about his heroine addiction and recovery during the 80's.
  • "Sold Some Attitude" by hide doesn't seem to make sense at all until viewed from the perspective of amphetamine psychosis. It then becomes Through the Eyes of Madness and very much Harsher in Hindsight.
  • "Sober" by P!nk.
  • "Wine Into Water" by T. Graham Brown.
  • "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me!)" by Tom Waits from Small Change.
  • "Wasted" by Carrie Underwood.
  • "For the Love of a Daughter" by Demi Lovato, about her biological father's alcoholism pleading with him to "put the bottle down, for the love of a daughter"
  • "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd is a sarcastic ode to cocaine with the line "I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb," with "she" being a metaphor for cocaine.
  • "Drinking Song" by Moxy Früvous. It actually starts out seeming like the exact opposite, describing fond memories of hanging around the house and getting drunk with a close friend. Then the tone of the lyrics gradually starts getting darker, and it turns out the friend in question drank himself to death one day, which caused the narrator to quit.
  • "Alcohol" by Barenaked Ladies. It similarly starts sounding like an Ode to Intoxication, until the POV character's intense self-loathing takes the forefront.
  • Fellow Canadians Spirit Of The West, after drinking themselves through a tour of England, want to go "Home for a Rest"
  • "Too Drunk to Fuck" by Dead Kennedys is a slightly more comical example.
  • Eric Clapton's cover of JJ Cale's song Cocaine.
  • The Beautiful South's "Liars' Bar" which serves "rum by the kettledrum, whisky by the jar" and has the sort of clientele which encourage sobriety - even if you don't take them as a horrible warning, then certainly so you don't have to hang out with them.
  • "Mr. Booze" by Bing Crosby and others.
  • Foster the People's "Helena Beat" is pretty easy to miss as one of these at first, but it's about the denial addicts tend to exhibit; the refrain implies the narrator is so drunk and/or high that he has to tie his hands to a chair to keep from falling over, completely ignoring that his inability to stay upright indicates a much deeper problem.
  • Beartooth's "I Have a Problem" has the vocalists admitting that he has a drinking problem, and screaming to God for help.
  • Green Day's "Geek Stink Breath", about a meth addict whose life is going down.
  • Sia's "Chandelier" starts off with a party girl bragging about her hard drinking ways. But halfway through the chorus, it turns dark and the party girl sings about how she's just "holding on". The second verse has her hungover.
  • Melle Mel's "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" was originally written as a sarcastic Ode to Intoxication about cocaine, but ultimately the anti-drug message was made more blatant due to commercial considerations. This is probably why it alternates lyrics about how good the drug can make you feel ("white lines, visions dreams of passion") with ones about how dangerous it is ("Either up your nose or through your vein /With nothin' to gain, except killin' your brain")
  • "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan, an elegy written after the heroin overdose death of The Smashing Pumpkins' keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin.
  • "Honey, I'm Good." by Andy Grammer, with the singer saying he could have a drink, but he'd rather not or else he might cheat on his partner, but that it won't be hard for the girl at the bar to find some other drunk fool to take home.
  • "Heroin" by The Lurkers. Probably. Does anyone have the exact lyrics?
  • German example 1: "Alkohol" by Herbert Grönemeyer. Descibes the kick, but the message at the end ("Alcohol is the ship you are going down with") is rather obvious.
  • German example 2: "Saufen" by Die Ärzte. General Health Surgeon's Warning! It sounds like your usual Fun Punk Ode to Intoxication if you don't read inbetween the lines.

     Drugs Are Bad  

  • "Impact Is Imminent" and "Dethamphetamine" by Exodus.
  • "Cocaine Blues" by Johnny Cash. Also a Murder Ballad — maybe even more than this trope.
  • "Cold Turkey" by John Lennon (could fit Deconstructed Ode to Intoxication variant, but it's better here as he's suffering through the song).
  • "Straight Edge" by Minor Threat. Inspired the entire straight edge movement - though Ian Mac Kaye didn't intend to.
  • "The Needle and the Damage Done" by Neil Young.
  • "Methamphetamine" by The Old Crow Medicine Show, although this might be a parody (they also did "Tell It to Me" and "Cocaine Habit", which are rather more clearly tongue-in-cheek).
  • "Say I Love You" by ToshI was written for an anti-methamphetamine campaign. It is also possibly referencing the now-known drug problems of at least two late bandmates.
  • "Bad" and "Running to Stand Still" by U2.
  • "It's Only Alcohol" by Hardcore Punk group The Freeze, though there's a little bit of "Deconstructed Ode to Intoxication" in there too: The lyrics chronicle a friend's descent into alcoholism, but the vocals are a spoken-word imitation of a drunk, complete with stammering and slurring that makes some lyrics completely unintelligible.
  • "Master of Puppets" by Metallica is more subtle than some, but the line, "Chop your breakfast on a mirror" is a clear reference to cocaine use.
  • "White Lines" by Grandmaster Flash (and also by Duran Duran.)
  • "Lightning Man" by Nitzer Ebb is about alcoholism, and the title is a reference to alcohol.
  • "That Smell" and "The Needle and the Spoon" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • "Hand of Doom" by Black Sabbath is an anti-heroin song. "Methademic" is mostly about methamphetamine, but the mention of "hypodermic pistol" can serve as a mention of heroin too.
  • "Thunderhead" By Music/WASP, another anti-heroin song.
  • The Styx song "Snowblind" is all about the "glorious" life of being a big name rock star who is spending most of his cash on cocaine, and how much the singer hates it.
  • "Demon Alcohol", an ode to Ozzy Osbourne's own struggle with alcoholism.
  • "Lacquer Head" by Primus.
  • "Ashes to Ashes" by David Bowie:
    Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, we know Major Tom's a junkie
    Strung out in heaven's high, hitting an all-time low
    Time and time I tell myself I'll stay clean tonight
    But the little green wheels are following me — oh no, not again
    I'm stuck with a valuable friend — "I'm happy, hope you're happy too"
    One flash of light, but no smoking pistol
  • "Everyone's at It" by Lily Allen is about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs:
    I get involved, but I'm not advocating
    Got an opinion, yeah, you're well up for slating
    So you've got a prescription and that makes it legal
    Now I find the excuses overwhelmingly feeble
    So you go to the doctor, you need pills for sleeping
    Well, if you can convince him, then I guess that's not cheating
    So your daughter's depressed, well, get her straight on the Prozac
    But little do you know she already takes crack
    Why can't we all, all just be honest
    Admit to ourselves that everyone's on it
    From grown politicians to young adolescents
    Prescribing themselves antidepressants
    But how can we start to tackle the problem
    If you don't put your hands up and admit that you're on them
    The kids are in danger, they're all getting habits
    'Cause from what I can see, everyone's at it
  • "Kicks" by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
  • "Fight Like a Brave" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, the band's first Ode To Sobriety song. It was written by singer Anthony Kiedis after getting sober for the first time since the age of eleven.

     Glad To Be Sober  



  • "Twist In My Sobriety" by Tanita Tikaram, despite the title, is not related.