MUSIC & DRUGS - C.T Herron

*(All our gonzo journalist disclaimers apply when we let C.T. Herron loose on a project - Jamie)

NHC commissioned me to do an "objective" article on drugs, asking a Gonzo Division member to be objective about drugs is like... hmm... need a good metaphor...

Allow me to introduce the 'choose your own level of offence' interactive metaphor section, or IMS. To be only mildly offended read only number 1. For maximum offence read only number 5, then read on...

1. Asking a Gonzo Division member to be objective about drugs is like asking Freddy Kreuger to be objective about chiropody!

2. Asking a Gonzo Division member to be objective about drugs is like asking Jello Biafra to be objective about a cop shooting a baby in the face!

3. Asking a Gonzo Division member to be objective about drugs is like asking Jimmy Saville to be objective about Sesame Street!

4. Asking a Gonzo Division member to be objective about drugs is like asking Hitler to be objective about the Jewish race!

5. Asking a Gonzo Division member to be objective about drugs is like asking Christians to be objective about abortion!

You can't even write gonzo style objectively, it defies the term:

So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here—not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.
— H.S.T, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

There's another quote I'd like to drop before we continue, I've used it before in my famous Salvia Report but it's even more appropriate here:

You see, I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. ‘Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were real fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.
— Bill Hicks

Let's kick the ballistics here, I'd have a much more difficult time naming bands that aren't drug-influenced than I would listing the opposite, hell, even Cliff Richards is a cokehead! Donny Osmond has his drugs cooked up in the gallons by shamans and flown in from the Amazon jungle. But they're bad examples, they're bad musicians.

Do you think the other-worldly Jimi Hendrix reached those peaks on guitar without the illuminating light of LSD? Do you think a lack of a heroin habit might have took the edge off Cobain's music? I reckon so. Just about everybody who was rock and rolling in the fifties and sixties from Little Richard, to Jerry Lee Lewis to Elvis to Johnny Cash, all your grandparents' favourite musicians of yore - real fucking high on amphetamines! Pink Floyd would never had opened the neural pathways required to create the music of the gods without plenty of acid behind them. Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Marc Bolan, The Clash, you know I could go on forever... They were all driven by drugs to one degree or another, inspired, enlightened, they were living. Even those of the rock glitterati that pushed the boundaries to the very limits still managed to cobble together some fucking amazing music while doing it! Peter Green, Syd Barrett, Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, Amy Winehouse, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones that list is also infinite... What good music have sober people ever made? Even if you look at the local scene, you think The Girobabies and Colonel Mustard aren't someway drug-influenced?

That paragraph was long enough, but it could have been a lot longer, I could have went on mentioning drug-influenced artists until I ran out of ink and paper... It's not just music either, any creative fields, literature (nearly all high), art (nearly all high), even scientists are doing DMT and pscilosybin! Why? What is it about drugs and creativity?

When Bob Dylan turned The Beatles onto cannabis and they quickly developed into psychedelic-users their music metamorphosised into a whole new level of genius, gone is the mop-top, lovey-dovey, poppy-boppy stuff, and in with the siitar, and the trippy effects, and Sgt. Peppers and the Abbey Roads, and it clearly enriched their lives and their minds and therefore their music, it's as plain as the tab of acid on the end of your tongue. Here is an excerpt from The Beatles Bible:

The two parties were introduced by a mutual friend, the writer Al Aronowitz, at New York’s Delmonico Hotel. Upon arriving at The Beatles’ suite Dylan asked for cheap wine; Mal Evans was sent to get some, and during the wait Dylan suggested they have a smoke. Brian [Epstein] and the Beatles looked at each other apprehensively. “We’ve never smoked marijuana before,” Brian finally admitted. Dylan looked disbelievingly from face to face. “But what about your song?” he asked. “The one about getting high?” The Beatles were stupefied. “Which song?” John managed to ask. Dylan said, “You know...” and then he sang, “and when I touch you I get high, I get high...” John flushed with embarrassment. “Those aren’t the words,” he admitted. “The words are, ‘I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I can’t hide...

After the hotel room was secured, Dylan rolled the first joint and passed it to Lennon. He immediately gave it to Starr, whom he called "my royal taster". Not realising the etiquette was to pass it on, Ringo finished the joint and Dylan and Aronowitz rolled more for each of them.

I don’t remember much what we talked about. We were smoking dope, drinking wine and generally being rock’n’rollers and having a laugh, you know, and surrealism. It was party time.
— John Lennon

The Beatles spent the next few hours in hilarity, looked upon with amusement by Dylan. Brian Epstein kept saying, "I'm so high I'm on the ceiling. I'm up on the ceiling." Paul McCartney, meanwhile, was struck by the profundity of the occasion, telling anyone who would listen that he was "thinking for the first time, really thinking." He instructed Mal Evans to follow him around the hotel suite with a notebook, writing down everything he said.

I remember asking Mal, our road manager, for what seemed like years and years, ‘Have you got a pencil?’ But of course everyone was so stoned they couldn’t produce a pencil, let alone a combination of pencil and paper. I’d been going through this thing of levels, during the evening. And at each level I’d meet all these people again. ‘Hahaha! It’s you!’ And then I’d metamorphose on to another level. Anyway, Mal gave me this little slip of paper in the morning, and written on it was, ‘There are seven levels!’ Actually it wasn’t bad. Not bad for an amateur. And we pissed ourselves laughing. I mean, ‘What the fuck’s that? What the fuck are the seven levels?’ But looking back, it’s actually a pretty succinct comment; it ties in with a lot of major religions but I didn’t know that then.
— Paul McCartney

And that's The Beatles! And that's just off marijuana, before they tried hallucinogens. Here is a scientific report showing how psychedelic use profoundly affects creativity in individuals.

Heroin has stigma like meth and crack cocaine, drug users aren’t all losers, they can’t all be insane, but sanity is not a trait of extraordinary man, sometimes it’s drugs not necessity that’s the mother of invention. Ben Franklin smoked opium when he held that lightning rod, so did queen Victoria and the Marquis de Sade, Siegmund Freud did his best work on coca medicine, so did Grover, Cleveland and Thomas Edison. Would Einstein have split the atom? Would Carl Sagen have pondered space? When the smartest people are doin’ drugs it makes the world a much better place. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates took acid and changed technology, The Beatles’ trips led to Lucy, Rita, and Elanor Rigby, and all the absinthe that Van Gogh drank made a much starrier night, without drugs would Munch’s Scream have really been such a fright? Would Bonds have hit those hundreds of homers? Would lance have ever won in France? When a record’s breaking, an athlete’s takin’ a drug to keep performance enhanced. Aaron Sorkin wrote his best while he was smokin’ crack, amphetamines were the favourite means of Ayn Rand and Kerouac, Charlie dickens told the tale on opiates we know, so did Burrows, Huxley, Oscar Wilde, and Edgar Allen Poe!
— Mike Burkett

So what about the scientific bit?

Yes, yes they are...

Yes, yes they are...

Proponents of psychedelic drugs have long insisted substances like LSD and psilocybin—the compound found in magic mushrooms—expand the mind, provide novel insights, and boost creativity. But only recently has scientific evidence started to bolster these claims. A new study in the journal, Human Brain Mapping and ongoing research into LSD at the Imperial College London, has begun to demonstrate that mind-altering substances increase communication between various regions in the brain, leading to mental states that are highly imaginative, sensorily vibrant, and emotionally intense.

But scientists aren’t merely confirming that hallucinogens are fun to do. If the effects of these drugs could be harnessed, then theoretically, they could be used to deliberately fuel creative output. “It’s possible that we could learn what sort of mode the brain enters when one has creative insights on the drug and then maybe we could learn about how that could be harnessed without it,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and a co-author of the study.
— Jennifer Miller

Here is a report entitled 'The Science of Tripping Balls and its Impact on Creativity'

Personally, I've literally been stoned for sixteen years now, morning, noon and night, I do all my best writing stoned, and I gain all my best insights and ideas when I drop LSD, DMT, take mushrooms or smoke salvia occasionally. I have done just about every psychedelic going since I was 18, chemicals, cacti, fungi, roots, barks, seeds, moulds, plants, you name it, and over an intense period a few years ago in The Psychedelic Beach Pad era of my life. I know from personal experience that tripping is a mind opening life event that makes you more self-aware and it also offers a great knowledge of ancient wisdom to those who know where and how to look for it.

I'm not of course, endorsing drugs, so for an objective perspective here is a statement from anti-drugs campaigner Dr. Thompson of Kentucky:

"I hate to advocate drugs, violence or insanity, but they've always worked for me!"

So there you go, he hates to advocate drugs, don't do them, unless you want to make really good art, or have a good time, but apart from that, don't do them! Don't say I didn't warn you...

"Music and drugs have long been linked with shifts in genre often running alongside trends in narcotic consumption, from Miles Davis to The Happy Mondays" A Guardian report on the link between music and drugs.

Cheers to The Real Damo for brainstorming offensive metaphors with me