The landscape of addiction is littered with depression, fear, and self-destructive behaviors. In order to avoid these pitfalls people engage in obtaining professional help, enter 12 step programs while seeking help from family. People also seek non-traditional methods of encouragement, such as music.
As you’ll learn later, Fans of the band Dream Theater credit their song, “The Shattered Fortress” for helping them deal with recovery. As such we’ve collected a diverse variety of songs about recovery and addiction for those of you who made need encouragement dealing with any issues. After all, songs about recovery let you know that you’re not alone on this journey.
10. Crossfire by Stevie Ray Vaughan
“Crossfire” comes off of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s 1989 critically acclaimed album, In Step. The album revolved around Stevie’s newfound sobriety. In fact, the title refers to a 12 step program used by alcoholics getting off the bottle. Written by Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton, Reese Wynans, Bill Carter, and Ruth Ellsworth, the song reached number one on Billboards July 29th 1989 Album Rock Tracks chart and held that peak position for 3 weeks. The lyrics are interpreted to refer to the dangers of being caught in the crossfire where the individuals personal situation may involve an environment of addiction and conflict and that individual seeking rescue from it.
9. Enigma: Return to Innocence
While “Return to Innocence” isn’t technically a song about recovery, it can be considered a track which can assist in recovery. In fact it was included in the critically acclaimed show My So-Called Life. This was a show that dealt with issues experienced by teens which included drug and alcohol addiction. “Return to Innocence” was performed by the German band Enigma and can be found on their 1994 album, The Cross of Changes. The song was an international hit reaching number 4 on Billboards 100 chart.
8. Days of Wine and Roses by Andy Williams
Written by celebrated composer Henry Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer,”The Days of Wine and Roses” was a theme for a film of the same name. The film starred Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick who played lovers dealing with the horrors of addiction. The Andy Williams 1963 version charted at number 9 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The song was also covered by popular singers such as Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and many more. While we’re covering the Andy Williams version, know that the original version was an orchestral instrumental. Better Call Saul fans may recognize this track in season 6 episode 1.
7. One Day At A Time by Joe Walsh
Composer and performer Joe Walsh went through some pretty tough times. He was addicted to both cocaine and alcohol. One of the barriers to his recovery involved not understanding the concept of sobriety. However, in the end he took the leap into recovery, “I had to start all over, from the basics—I had to learn to get up and make my bed and not drink.” The track can be found on his 2012 album, Analog Man, and relates much of his experiences with drug addiction and recovery.
6. Cold Turkey by John Lennon
When John decided he was ready to start a family with Yoko, he knew ending his dependency on drugs was a key factor before he could begin. “Cold Turkey” relates that experience as he and Yoko quit using drugs on the spot hence cold turkey. Released on October 20, 1969, it was recorded without the Beatles as they rejected the song. As such he recorded it using the Plastic Ono Band
. Unfortunately, many misunderstood the true meaning of the song. It was a track which reflected his experience recovering from heroin. Instead, they misinterpreted the track, thinking he was promoting it, “”Cold Turkey was banned. They thought it was a pro-drugs song. But I’ve always expressed what I’ve been feeling or thinking at the time…So I was just writing the experience I’d had of withdrawing from heroin.”
5. Amazing by Aerosmith
“Amazing” is a track by super group Aerosmith and comes off their 1993 album Get a Grip. Composed by lead vocalist Steven Tyler and Richie Supa, the track revolves around recovery from drug addictions. “Amazing” is among the best ballads in rock music. Everything from the fabulous keyboard work of Supa to the backing vocals by Don Henley and power vocals from Tyler make this an absolute masterpiece. The track did well internationally, charting at number 3 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. The music video starred Alicia Silverstone and received heavy rotation on MTV.
4. The Shattered Fortress by Dream Theater
If you’re not familiar with progressive or prog rock bands then Dream Theater’s track, “The Shattered Fortress” is a keen introduction to the sub-genre. composed by the band with lyrics provided by Mike Portnoy. The song is part of Mike Portnoy’s “Twelve Step Suite”also known as the “Alcoholics Anonymous Suite.” The “Twelve Step Suite” is a masterpiece consisting of various songs that reflect Portnoy’s experience with alcohol addiction and recovery. “The Shattered Fortress” is the last song in the suite. This song is so powerful, that fans dealing with addiction and recovery share messages of gratitude, thanking the band for helping them through their own conflicts with the self and addiction. The track can be found on their 2009 album Black Clouds and Silver Linings.
3. No No Song by Ringo Starr
Composed by Hoyt Axton and David Jackson, the “No No Song” Became a hit for Ringo Starr. Recorded in 1974, you can find this track on Ringo’s album Goodnight Vienna. Considered an entertaining novelty song, the “No No Song” is about an individual who is offered drugs and continues to reject the offer,
- “No, no, no, no, I don’t smoke it no more
- I’m tired of waking up on the floor
- No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze
- And then it makes it hard to find the door”
Though Ringo referred to it as an anti-drug song, he was still dealing with his addiction while recording it. This tune hit number 3 on the US charts. Cashbox reviewed the track stating, “Hoyt Axton wrote this friendly, tongue-in-cheek temperance tune and Ringo Believers it like he really means it!!”
2. Old Ways by Demi Lovato
This track chronicles Demi’s efforts when it came to dealing with her stint in rehab. Here, she found herself confronting personal self-destructive issues that included an eating disorder. In a YouTube interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODV_BwDCQL8 ), Demi opens up about the track, what it means to her and how it reflects her personal struggles in rehab:
“The first thing I think about is going back to a time when I was engaging in self-destructive behaviors…I easily remember how dangerous that spiral is, when you’re the type of person that lets it take over your life.”
The track comes off her 2015 album, Confident. Composed by Olivia Waithe, Jason Evigan and Scott Hoffman “Old Ways” shows us the path to recovery is fraught with many hardships. However, if confronted and dealt with properly, one may emerge from the dark clouds of addiction successfully.
1. Not Afraid by Eminem
“Not Afraid” by Eminem comes off his 2010 album, Recovery. The track was the first single from Recovery and reached number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart, debuting at number 1. “Not Afraid” reflects Eminem’s strength and power as he crossed over from addiction to recovery. A critically acclaimed track, “Not Afraid” contains some of Eminem’s most personal lyrics such as:
“It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me, admittedly I probably did it subliminally for you, so I can come back a brand new me, you helped see me through,”
The song revolves around his efforts to pull himself together, his conflicts surrounding recovery and firmly states that he’s no afraid of what lies ahead.
Over 75% of those going through addiction will recover and be on their way to leading fruitful lives. There are roadblocks to be sure, such as relapse. Songs about recovery can be seen as an additional tool to assist those on this path, as songs about recovery let the individual know they aren’t the only ones and if others can conquer their demons so can they.
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