Sunday, December 18, 2016

25 Songs About Addiction and Recovery: WHAT IT'S LIKE, Everlast

Everlast was the biggest thing in music for about six months, largely on the basis of What It's Like. This song was all over the radio during the first six months I was clean, and it is an understated but real reason why I was able to keep it down during that important time.
Why? Because the song is not only sympathetic to addicts, but it is sympathetic to people on the "wrong" side of the tracks and of "respectable" life in general. Everlast's great accomplishment with this song was to reinforce, every 45 minutes on the radio, that people that were "sinners," in society's eyes, did not drop from the sky that way. The woman getting the abortion was abandoned by the baby daddy during the pregnancy. The homeless guy has a backstory beyond not "getting a job."The drug dealer has a family, and got shot and killed for a stupid reason. And the bridge in the middle is a study in contrasts--and a reminder that everybody at some point does things against their nature, against their image, against their better judgment.
And for somebody wallowing in the guilt of early addiction, this was a welcome and necessary message. It was something to hang onto, in fact; every one of the 120 men in the halfway house I was in knew this song by heart, and identified in some way or fashion with it. Because we knew--we knew-- "What it's like."
I don't know what happened to Everlast. His familiarity with the type of life we were leading probably caught up to him. He was very controversial during his fifteen minutes of fame; the CD this song was from was heavily edited, not just this song but others. Walmart America in 1999 was not ready to hear the F word in pop songs; wasn't ready to hear about abandoned women wanting to "cut off balls;" wasn't ready to hear about religious hypocrites using the word "whore;"wasn't ready to hear about "smoking the finest green" and "stroking dimes," and lest we think it was all about street slang, a blunt referencing to making money by selling drugs was bleeped, too. All in all, there were a dozen bleep-outs in this song alone. The things is, almost twenty years later, none of this eyebrows now in music.
But the pioneer always has the toughest path.

The link to the video, with lyrics:

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