4.6.1 Art, Film, Literature, Music

Art, Film, Literature, Music #

As we are deep into subjective territory here, instead of rattling off my personal opinion, I will furnish selected lists of prominent and well known artists and works, which may stimulate interest or deliberation.


Some are about drugs; some are inspired by drugs; some have themes which are undeniably linked to drugs; some are frequently claimed to be best watched whilst experiencing drugs:

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
  • Trainspotting (1996)
  • The Wall (1982)
  • Limitless (2011)
  • The Matrix (1999)
  • Enter the Void (2009)
  • Lucy (2014)
  • Pulp Fiction (1994)
  • Midnight Express (1978)
  • Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  • John Dies At The End (2011)
  • Waking Life (2001)
  • Naked Lunch (1991)
  • Dredd (2012)
  • Altered States (1980)
  • Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus (2013)
  • Embrace of the Serpent (2015)
  • Mr Nice (2010)
  • The Mule (2018)
  • The Doors (1991)
  • Blow (2001)
  • The Beatles: Yellow Submarine (1968)


These may appear to be ridiculous now, but propaganda in more sophisticated forms is still in full flow.

  • The Cocaine Fiends (1935)
  • Marihuana (1936)
  • Reefer Madness (1936)
  • The Road To Ruin (1934)
  • She Shoulda Said No! (1949)
  • Devil’s Harvest (1942)
  • Assassin of Youth (1937)
  • Human Wreckage (1923)


Some of these selections are psychedelic in nature (particularly interesting to listen to whilst tripping) whilst others are (sometimes reputably) about drugs or the effects of drugs. A difficulty I encountered in constructing this list was the sheer number of compositions to choose from. If I have missed your favourite artist or recording, I apologise.

  • The Beatles [Tomorrow Never Knows, Dr Robert, Various]
  • Pink Floyd [Various]
  • Jefferson Airplane [White Rabbit, Various]
  • The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band [I’m The Urban Spaceman]
  • Cypress Hill [Hits From The Bong, Dr. Greenthumb; Various]
  • Bob Marley [Various]
  • The Clash [Hateful, Koka Kola]
  • David Bowie [Ashes to Ashes]
  • Amy Winehouse [Addicted, Rehab]
  • Rolling Stones [Sister Morphine, Mother’s Little Helper]
  • Space Time Continuum With Terence McKenna [Alien Dreamtime]
  • 1200 Micrograms [1200 Micrograms]
  • Dudley Perkins [Sally]
  • Lil Peep [Various]
  • Shpongle [Various]
  • Afroman [Because I Got High]
  • The Stranglers [Golden Brown]
  • Grateful Dead [Various]
  • Eric Clapton [Cocaine]
  • Lil Wayne [Various]
  • Louis Armstrong [Muggles]
  • CASisDEAD [Various]
  • Peter Tosh [Legalize It]
  • Green Day [Brain Stew, Geek Stink Breath]
  • She Drew The Gun [Pit Pony, Various]
  • Jimi Hendrix [Purple Haze]
  • The Velvet Underground [Heroin]
  • Mötley Crüe [Dr. Feelgood]
  • Andy Fairweather-Low [Wide Eyed and Legless]
  • Nine Inch Nails [Hurt]
  • Eric Clapton [Cocaine]
  • D12 [Purple Pills, These Drugs]
  • Johnny Cash [Cocaine Blues]
  • U2 [Bad]
  • Blur [Beetlebum]
  • The Doors [Break On Through To The Other Side]
  • Oasis [Morning Glory]
  • Tom Petty [Girl On LSD]
  • Lil Whyte [Oxy Cotton]
  • The Verve [The Drugs Don’t Work]
  • Junkhead [Alice in Chains]
  • Marco A. Restrepo [Sally & Me]
  • Black Sabbath [Sweet Leaf, Snowblind]
  • Guns N’ Roses [Mr Brownstone]
  • GrandMaster Flash [White Lines]
  • Neil Young [The Needle And The Damage Done]
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers [Snow (Hey Oh)]
  • Placebo [Special K]
  • Eminem [Drug Ballad]
  • Tame Impala [Various]
  • Peter Lincoln [My Monkey Is A Junkie]
  • Led Zeppelin [Misty Mountain Hop]
  • Moody Blues [Legend of a Mind]
  • Janis Joplin [Mary Jane]
  • Lady Gaga [Mary Jane Holland]
  • Rush [A Passage to Bangkok]
  • Snoop Dogg [Smokin’ Smokin’ Weed]
  • Jackson Browne [Cocaine]
  • Savoy Brown [Needle and Spoon]
  • Cheech and Chong [Up in Smoke]


If you are an art enthusiast you will already have your own favourites. I will, therefore, simply reproduce the names of relevant artists, which I have culled from Wikipedia and other sources, some of which you may be unfamiliar with.

Pablo Amaringo
Chris Dyer
David Barnes
Doug Binder
Mark Boyle & Joan Hills
Laurence Caruana
James Clifford
Lee Conklin
Robert Crumb
Roger Dean
Warren Dayton
Scott Draves
Donald Dunbar
M. C. Escher
Karl Ferris
Giorgio de Chirico
Andrew (Android) Jones
Justin Guse
William Finn
The Fool (collective)
Ernst Fuchs
Bob Gibson
H. R. Giger
Terry Gilliam
Alex Grey
Rick Griffin
Gary Grimshaw
Leif Podhajsky
John Hurford
Alton Kelley
Mati Klarwein
Oleg A. Korolev
Abby Martin
Bob Masse
George Atherton
Mario Martinez
Fabián Jiménez
Peter Max
Stanley “Mouse” Miller
Victor Moscoso
Vali Myers
Michael Saunders
Martin Sharp
Gilbert Shelton
Grace Slick
Harold Thornton
Vernon Treweeke
John Van Hamersveld
David Vaughan
Louis Wain
Robert Williams
Wes Wilson
Andy Warhol
David Normal
Amanda Sage
Cameron Gray


This is a starter list of the names I ran across whilst searching for psychedelic and drug related poetry and literature. For a number, their contribution(s) on this subject constituted a minority of their output, and equally, some are better known in other spheres. Note that I claim no particular expertise or knowledge in this area.

Allen Ginsberg
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
William Blake
Timothy Leary
William S Burroughs
Aldous Huxley
Hunter S Thompson
Thomas De Quincey
Charles Baudelaire
Jack Kerouac
Howard Marks
Fitz Hugh Ludlow
Rudolph Wurlitzer
Kaveh Akbar
Aleister Crowley
Thomas Pynchon
Tao Lin
Philip K. Dick
Henri Michaux
Thaddeus Golas


According to Wikipedia, “Costume is the distinctive style of dress of an individual or group that reflects their class, gender, profession, ethnicity, nationality, activity or epoch”. So what costume is distinctive to drug users? Given that drug users form part of every social group this is a tricky one. However, if any, perhaps psychedelic and/or hippie type clothing is more synonymous with drug use than any other.


This form is certainly a personal favourite of mine. It’s free and it’s available in every major city. Random examples from my travels follow.

Manchester Mushrooms

Manchester Mushrooms

NDSM, Amsterdam

NDSM, Amsterdam

The John Lennon Wall, Prague

The John Lennon Wall, Prague

Ping River, Chiang Mai

Ping River, Chiang Mai


Celebrities and cultural icons have long commented on drugs and drug use. A collection of some of the most well known quotes is presented below. For quotes specific to psychedelics see the introduction to Section 2.2.

I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” ~ Salvador Dali

Drugs are a bet with your mind.” ~ Jim Morrison

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

It’s not a war on drugs, it’s a war on personal freedom.” ~ Bill Hicks

If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.” ~ Bill Hicks

Marijuana is self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?” ~ P. J. O’Rourke

No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.” ~ P. J. O’Rourke

I used to have a drug problem, now I make enough money.” ~ David Lee Roth

When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.” ~ Bob Marley

Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.” ~Bob Marley

I’m very fond of drugs.” Grace Slick

Don’t do drugs because if you do drugs you’ll go to prison, and drugs are really expensive in prison.” ~John Hardwick

Reality is a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs.” ~Lily Tomlin

Cocaine is God’s way of saying you’re making too much money.” ~Robin Williams

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me." ~ Hunter S. Thompson”

That is not a drug, it’s a leaf.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police.” ~ Keith Richards

To put someone in jail for using drugs in the privacy of his hotel room is just barbaric.” ~ Danny Sugerman

Fck the drug war. Dropping acid was a profound turning point for me, a seminal experience. I make no apologies for it. More people should do acid. It should be sold over the counter.” ~ George Carlin

Psychedelic drugs don’t change you, they don’t change your character, unless you want to be changed. They enable change; they can’t impose it.” ~ Alexander Shulgin

I’m called the Godfather because I published for the first time information about its effects in man. I feel content with the title. MDMA is a beautiful drug.” ~ Alexander Shulgin

I think pot should be legal. I don’t smoke it, but I like the smell of it.” ~ Andy Warhol

I drifted into heroin because as a kid growing up everybody told me, ‘don’t smoke marijuana, it will kill you.’” ~ Irvine Welsh

I didn’t inhale.” ~ Bill Clinton

When I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point.” ~ Barack Obama

The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” ~ Carl Sagan

Sex and drugs and rock and roll.” ~ Ian Dury

If you lock someone up for smoking a plant that makes them happy, then you’re the fcking criminal.” ~ Joe Rogan

Which is better: to have fun with fungi or to have Idiocy with ideology, to have wars because of words, to have tomorrow’s misdeeds out of yesterday’s miscreeds?” ~ Aldous Huxley

I say no to drugs, but they don’t listen.” ~ Marilyn Manson

Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use of any other drug with special horror.” ~ William S. Burroughs

A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.” ~ Frank Zappa