Tuesday, December 20, 2016

25 Songs About Addiction and Recovery: COUGH SYRUP, Young The Giant

Several years ago, Young The Giant seemed to be one of the next great alternative bands; their eponymous debut album had songs from it all over the radio in 2010-11. Stardom has not happened for them, even though they have continued to put out (good) music and have toured regularly. Such is the American music scene in the Internet era. But their signature song from their first album, Cough Syrup, remains an anthem of the despair that feeds addiction.
It's a bit of a haunting song, sparse in musical accompaniment, and with plaintive, almost whiny lyrics. But it isn't long before one realizes that the singer is 1) on the very edge of sanity, and 2) has been spiraling downward for a long time. "Life's too short to even care at all" hints that the singer is considering suicide. "Some fortune I should have found by now" is an expression both of anger and unrealistic expectations common to young people that fail at their first few attempts at finding meaning in their lives--and at quitting what they are addicted to, as well. The "running to what could restore me" is both a veiled shot at the media messaging about various substances--and the Second Step of 12-Step programs that talk of a "restoration to sanity." Since this song is about someone clearly not feeling sane, and about someone that has tried all sorts of things to both find meaning in life and has been reduced to drinking cough syrup as an escape, I feel like it's a given that the singer's point of view is that of someone that tried, perhaps because he was mandated to try, recovery meetings and found no identification. It happens, especially with the young.
And cough syrup is a cheap and lower-grade high--the type of thing that someone that either is terrified of returning to being addicted to stronger drugs, like opiates, or someone that is absolutely at the end of their financial rope resorts to for a low-grade, cheap buzz. And it's another clue that this person has been to meetings and didn't care for the message within--in this case, that a drug is a drug. Many addicts travel the "substitution" route during their first few attempts at recovery.
And only when the substitutes do not ease the pain does the willingness to give recovery a more sincere shot come about. Or sometimes it leads to a return to the use of stronger substances, too. Either way, the singer of this song is going to be moving in one direction or the other very quickly. And even he doesn't know which way he will be turning.


Life's too short to even care at all, oh
I'm losing my mind losing my mind losing control, oh oh
These fishes in the sea they're staring at me oh oh
Oh oh oh oh
A wet world aches for a beat of a drum
Oh

If I could find a way to see this straight
I'd run away
To some fortune that I, I should have found by now

I'm waiting for this cough syrup to come down, come down.

Life's too short to even care at all, oh, oh
I'm coming up now, coming up now out of the blue, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
These zombies in the park they're looking for my heart, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
A dark world aches for a splash of the sun, oh, oh

If I could find a way to see this straight
I'd run away
To some fortune that I, I should have found by now

And so I run now to the things they said could restore me
Restore life the way it should be
I'm waiting for this cough syrup to come down

Life's too short to even care at all, oh, oh
I'm losing my mind losing my mind losing control

If I could find a way to see this straight
I'd run away
To some fortune that I, I should have found by now

So I run now to the things they said could restore me
Restore life the way it should be
I'm waiting for this cough syrup to come down

One more spoon of cough syrup now, whoa. [x2]


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