If you see me getting high
Knock me down
I'm not bigger than life
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 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.)
Compare Addiction Song.
- "Sunday Morning Coming Down" by Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash is about an unglamorous addict observing Mundane Luxury on an ordinary Sunday in the city while suffering after a night of drinking and getting high.
- "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 heroin addiction and recovery during the '80s.
- "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.
- "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me!)" by Tom Waits from Small Change is from the perspective of a drunken pianist giving a show in a dive bar. Tom slurs the lyrics and the melody stumbles over itself to imitate inebriation.
- "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.)
- "Cocaine Blues" by Johnny Cash. A Murder Ballad about a man who kills his woman because she was cheating on him after taking cocaine. The song ends urging the listener to stay away from cocaine and whiskey.
- "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.
- "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.
- "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
- "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 7 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.
- "Snow" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Knock Me Down" might also count (they wrote it after guitarist Hillel Slovak OD'd and died).
- "The Wild Rover" by pretty much every Irish folk band ever. Ironically it's also often used as a Drunken Song, but the lyrics are actually about the singer resolving to give up his wild drinking ways.
- 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"
- "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."