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Ode to Sobriety

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If you see me getting mighty
If you see me getting high
Knock me down
I'm not bigger than life
Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Knock Me Down"

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 other 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 other 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 alcoholism or other 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 Grimdark 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.)

Compare Addiction Song.


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    Deconstructed Ode To Intoxication 
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "Alkohol" by Herbert Grönemeyer. Describes the kick, but the message at the end ("Alcohol is the ship you are going down with") is rather obvious.
  • "Saufen" by Die Ärzte. General Health Surgeon's Warning! It sounds like your usual Fun Punk Ode to Intoxication if you don't read in between the lines.
  • "Greg's Drinking Song" from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is sung in the style of an Irish drinking song, but the lyrics are about all about the terrible things Greg used to do when he'd get drunk, from puking on his cat to crashing his friend's cars to trying to get into the cockpit so he could fly a plane (and getting banned from North West as a result).
  • "One Drink Too Many" by Sailor (better known for "A Glass of Champagne") loses the singer his date. (The song strongly implies he loves alcohol more anyway.)
  • "Purple Pills" by D12 details the surreal, horrible things the members of the band get up to on a night out after binging the entire medicine cabinet. Slim Shady drives while high on Valium, runs over five people and fires a gun at the crowd at one of his gigs while high on coke; Kon Artis eats a bunch of acid and ends up running around naked with a gun drawn before nearly dying of an overdose; Bizarre attempts to hit on girls while smelling of vomit; Proof chokes on chalk-filled cocaine; and Swift has to rap because he can't get a job because of his track marks.
  • Neil Diamond's "The Pot Smoker's Song": As Neil sings a cheery, jingle-like chorus extolling the virtues of marijuana ("pot, pot, gimme some pot / forget who you are, you can be who you're not"), patients of a rehab center give Spoken Word in Music testimonials about how pot was their gateway to stronger drugs.
  • The Bicycle Thief's "Cereal Song" is about the narrator working as a restaurant dishwasher and having bad teeth at 35 because cocaine and heroin fucked up his life.
  • Surprisingly, considering how famous he is for his massive drug usage, Ozzy Osbourne has such a song. "Suicide Solution" was inspired by the alcohol-related death of AC/DC's Bon Scott, and describes alcoholism as basically a slow suicide method (hence the title, which uses "solution" in the sense of "a fluid in which another substance is dissolved", referring to liquor).

    Drugs Are Bad 
  • "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.
  • "Lightning Man" by Nitzer Ebb is about alcoholism, and the title is a reference to alcohol.
  • "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.
  • "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 is about how, after coming down from a high, the world will generally be exactly as it was before, and that it starts requiring stronger hits to reach the same high.
  • "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.
  • "That's Why I'm Here" by Kenny Chesney, set an AA meeting, where a long-time attendee explains to newcomers what his alcoholism has cost him, including his family.
  • "Mr. Booze" from the Rat Pack movie Robin and the Seven Hoods (and later covered/semi-spoofed on Family Guy like all things Sinatra) is a tongue-in-cheek version of this used to hide an illegal casino.
  • The Greenwoods' "Please Don't Sell My Daddy No More Wine".
    My daddy used to buy me pretty dresses
    Now it's only hand-me-downs and worn-out shoes
    It's because of you, I know that I wear these ragged clothes
    For you're the man who sells my daddy booze
  • "I Hate You When You're Drunk" by Olly Murs.
  • "Madman (Vocal Mix)" by Silverchair - the version that appears on their album Frogstomp is instrumental, but a demo with lyrics, personifying the influence of alcohol as a "madman", surfaced as a bonus track on Greatest Hits Vol. 1

    Glad To Be Sober 
  • Dream Theater's Twelve-Step Suite is somewhere between this and "Drugs Are Bad", except it's more a case of Earn Your Happy Ending than "Glad to Be Sober" since it explicitly details the often excruciating process of recovery.
  • "Little Rock" by Collin Raye is about a recovering alcoholic who hasn't had a drink in 19 days. He's happy that he's finally sober, but also heartbroken because his alcoholism drove him away from his lover.
  • "xanny", by Billie Eilish, where she complains about her friends spending all their time under the influence of alcohol and other drugs while she abstains:
    I'm in their second-hand smoke
    Still just drinking canned coke
    I don't need a xanny to feel better
  • "Happiness" by Deaf Havana aserts that it "isn't worth a single drop or glass of anything, and I don't want anything"

  • "Because I Got High" by Afroman is a tongue-in-cheek song about a man whose excessive usage of marijuana ruins his life, starting with him having a messy room and failing his classes, up to getting into a car crash that leaves him paralyzed, and he ends up alone after he's alienated all his loved ones. What makes this a parody rather than a straight example is that Afroman himself is a huge stoner and an advocate for marijuana legalization. In fact, the song's intro has Afroman rolling a blunt. Afroman would later release a "Positive Remix", which inverts the song into saying Drugs Are Good.
  • "The No No Song," written by Hoyt Axton for Ringo Starr, tells of people who approach the singer and offer him marijuana first, then cocaine, then moonshine. He refuses them all, as per the refrain:
    I said "No no no no, I don't smoke/sniff/drink it no more,
    I'm tired of waking up on the floor.
    No thank you please, it only makes me sneeze,
    Then it makes it hard to find the door."