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#1
In another thread I mentioned a songwriting collaboration I used to have with a guy, and that we had a lot of disagreements in a lot of areas.

His musical heroes were Hendrix, the Beatles, Jim Morrison, etc. He was adamant that their use of drugs contributed to their music. I was, and still am, of the opinion that it was natural and learned talent rather than substance use which allowed them to write great music. My friend actively sought to prove his hypothesis!

I see a lot of druggies where I live but don't hear a lot of great music coming from their windows. I think a lot of people delude themselves into thinking drugs will make them more creative. I think this is sophistry. They're just inventing reasons for taking more drugs.

I'm interested in other opinions and experiences on this matter. Apologies if this is the wrong subforum.
#2
Well, you are both right. A lot of it came from natural talent, but a big portion of their music was also inspired by drugs.
#4
It's hard to say really but i think it most probably comes from the person and their natural curiosity.

Take Ian MacKaye for example: he is ****ing smart, decided to be straight edge (pretty much invented the term himself), played in one of the most respected Hardcore bands of the 80's (Minor Threat), was part of the Emotional Hardcore scene during the late 80's (which was very experimental) , founded probably one of the most experimental bands of the late 80's/Early 90's (Fugazi) and to this day he is playing in uncoventional groups like The Evens.

Compare that to some douche like Vince Neil who is famed for being a druggie, played in the Glam Metal band Motley Crue (hardly the epitome of musical exploration), gone solo and failed dramatically, since then he has done jack shit musically.

Obviously there are druggies who have done great things musically which may have been written when on drugs or when they were sober.
But there are also druggies like Vince Neil who just suck and don't want to explore music because he would rather get high and be a douchebag.

So personally, i think it's just the people and not so much the drugs, but then again i've never done drugs so i wouldn't know.
#5
I'll bet its a "spurious" correlation: Some other variable is causing both the drug use and the good song writing.

Do drugs cause good song writing? Or does talent cause good songwriting?

I'd say both are caused by another factor, "age" in many cases.

Quite simply, when we are young, we are more likely to do drugs. Also, we tend to be more creative, more inspired, more curious, have more to prove. Testosterone peaks around the early to mid 20's in men, and slowly declines thereafter.

Yeah we all know about guys like mustaine, hetfield, who just suck these days - no offense if you are still a fan, but let's face it they are WAY past their prime.

But, after selling millions of records, making millions of dollars, playing for millions of fans, what incentive does a guy like james hetfield have to really sit down and write another banging record?

Maybe a sense of pride in knowing that he is still the king of metal riffage. But that's assuming he cares about that. In addition, let's not forget the fact that the mind slows down and becomes less active as we age. It may just be that he can't do it anymore.

Of course there are exceptions: Maiden is still writing good music, classical composers may be at their best when they are older. But they're people that probably didn't already rot their brains with drug use in their younger years, so there's still more left up there. In addition, these guys never really acheived the pinnacle of success - maiden while being able to afford a private jet, still never acheived mainstream popularity, and still relies on quality music to move records off shelves.
Last edited by Riffman15 at Apr 21, 2011,
#6
There are people who take drugs and make great music. There are people who take drugs and don't make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and don't make great music.

We can then conclude that there is no direct link between drugs and great music. Admittedly it can help some people approach music from a different angle, but whether it is a change for the positive appears to be completely random.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#7
I think both sides can be right. Drugs can allow you see things from a new perspective, or just make you lose perspective completely.
#8
Quote by AlanHB
There are people who take drugs and make great music. There are people who take drugs and don't make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and don't make great music.

We can then conclude that there is no direct link between drugs and great music. Admittedly it can help some people approach music from a different angle, but whether it is a change for the positive appears to be completely random.

This.

I've never taken an illegal drug in my life and my music is AWESOME
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#9
a valid point to enter here is one of nuero -chemistry and music.
i am reading a book called "around the world in six songs" , a book i would recommend to anyone interested in this topic.

also there is another book called "this is your brain on music" that i hear is very good.
music triggers chemical reactions in the brain as do drugs.
where we build tolerance to drug use, the natural triggers that music produces seems to be immune to tolerance.
#10
Quote by Jehannum
...His musical heroes were Hendrix, the Beatles, Jim Morrison, etc. He was adamant that their use of drugs contributed to their music.

Anyone else notice that two of the influences listed here are members of the "27 club"?
#11
I may actually bitch about drug-based composers.. that's basically.. it's not THEIR gain first off all

second... the greatest composers (bach, bethoven, vivaldi, buckethead, mozart, me, etc) didn't use drugs so it only makes the drug-based ones look more stupid...

/rant
#12
Quote by AlanHB
There are people who take drugs and make great music. There are people who take drugs and don't make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and don't make great music.

We can then conclude that there is no direct link between drugs and great music. Admittedly it can help some people approach music from a different angle, but whether it is a change for the positive appears to be completely random.


Not exactly- the people that take drugs, yet still make bad music, may be lacking in one thing - talent.

In order to evaluate if there is a "direct link" between drug use and good music, one would have to control for all these other confounding factors, such as talent, age, ability, experience.
#13
Quote by Riffman15
Not exactly- the people that take drugs, yet still make bad music, may be lacking in one thing - talent.

In order to evaluate if there is a "direct link" between drug use and good music, one would have to control for all these other confounding factors, such as talent, age, ability, experience.

I'm pretty sure that's what he's saying

Talent = Good music. Always

Drugs = Good music.... sometimes. But only if you already have talent
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#14
Quote by Jehannum
In another thread I mentioned a songwriting collaboration I used to have with a guy, and that we had a lot of disagreements in a lot of areas.

His musical heroes were Hendrix, the Beatles, Jim Morrison, etc. He was adamant that their use of drugs contributed to their music. I was, and still am, of the opinion that it was natural and learned talent rather than substance use which allowed them to write great music. My friend actively sought to prove his hypothesis!

I see a lot of druggies where I live but don't hear a lot of great music coming from their windows. I think a lot of people delude themselves into thinking drugs will make them more creative. I think this is sophistry. They're just inventing reasons for taking more drugs.

I'm interested in other opinions and experiences on this matter. Apologies if this is the wrong subforum.


Well their drug use certainly had an effect on their music, but I wouldn't say it "aided" them compositionally, or made them more creative. It was part of their life.

To take drugs because they did, and to think of it as a compositional aid is very foolish.
shred is gaudy music
#15
95% of the time, drugs are bad, 'mkay?

i tend to approach music from more of the "skilled craftsman" side than the "happy fun art play random shit" side, so drugs would be bad for me, because i need complete control over things like melodic line, form, structure (because, let's face it, there are other forms out there besides verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-outro [or any permutation of that]), etc.

if you're just in a band dicking around with a couple of friends trying to stick random riffs together, it might just be the key to hitting it big.

Quote by GuitarMunky
To take drugs because they did, and to think of it as a compositional aid is very foolish.


listen to this man. he knows what he's talking about.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#16
Quote by AlanHB
There are people who take drugs and make great music. There are people who take drugs and don't make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and make great music. There are people who don't take drugs and don't make great music.

We can then conclude that there is no direct link between drugs and great music. Admittedly it can help some people approach music from a different angle, but whether it is a change for the positive appears to be completely random.


And there you have it.

There are alternatives to drugs though. I recall the story of Dali and the other surrealists who would deprive themselves of sleep for a couple of days, then sit in a soft armchair holding something like a tin cup in one hand. The moment they fell asleep and the hypnagogic hallucinations took over, the cup would fall, waking the artist up; then he'd paint whatever he'd seen in that moment. Interestingly, when I'm sleep deprived and in a quiet environment I tend to "hear" music (that's obviously not merely the recall of a song I already know; as far as I can tell it's usually new). A pretty interesting form of direct inspiration. The difficulty, of course, is translating it into real sound.
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#17
Quote by Sewe Dae
And there you have it.

There are alternatives to drugs though. I recall the story of Dali and the other surrealists who would deprive themselves of sleep for a couple of days, then sit in a soft armchair holding something like a tin cup in one hand. The moment they fell asleep and the hypnagogic hallucinations took over, the cup would fall, waking the artist up; then he'd paint whatever he'd seen in that moment. Interestingly, when I'm sleep deprived and in a quiet environment I tend to "hear" music (that's obviously not merely the recall of a song I already know; as far as I can tell it's usually new). A pretty interesting form of direct inspiration. The difficulty, of course, is translating it into real sound.

Sometimes that happens to me when I'm falling asleep but I'm always too tired to wake up and try to actually figure out how to play what I'm hearing. But it's awesome when music just comes to you like that.
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#18
Quote by AeolianWolf
95% of the time, drugs are bad, 'mkay?


I would personally say that 95% of the experiences I have had with drugs (legal & illegal) have been good. I'd estimate that this would be fairly similar for my immediate peer group, but perhaps we're more sensible than the average, and this is a side-issue anyway.


On sleep deprivation, it's obviously just another way of changing the chemical/eletrical balance in your brain, just like a drug would, just like the chemicals your brain change the balance when you exercise, have sex, whatever. I'm with everyone else who's pointing out that much good music has been produced without drug use and that to suggest drug use is a sufficient condition for producing good art is stupid, just saying that (as has been pointed out), using a drug does cause a genuine physical change to the brain/body and will affect how you think about music you're creating.

People have been studying this in a more scientific way than, "It was like, whoaa man, I was like, outside myself watching the notes shimmer in the air, you know?", too;
http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/03/marijuana_and_divergent_thinki.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20scienceblogs/wDAM%20%28The%20Frontal%20Cortex
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
Last edited by Damascus at Apr 21, 2011,
#19
Quote by Damascus
I would personally say that 95% of the experiences I have had with drugs (legal & illegal) have been good. I'd estimate that this would be fairly similar for my immediate peer group, but perhaps we're more sensible than the average, and this is a side-issue anyway.


On sleep deprivation, it's obviously just another way of changing the chemical/eletrical balance in your brain, just like a drug would, just like the chemicals your brain change the balance when you exercise, have sex, whatever. I'm with everyone else who's pointing out that much good music has been produced without drug use and that to suggest drug use is a sufficient condition for producing good art is stupid, just saying that (as has been pointed out), using a drug does cause a genuine physical change to the brain/body and will affect how you think about music you're creating.

People have been studying this in a more scientific way than, "It was like, whoaa man, I was like, outside myself watching the notes shimmer in the air, you know?", too;
http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/03/marijuana_and_divergent_thinki.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20scienceblogs/wDAM%20%28The%20Frontal%20Cortex


you just skimmed right over the south park reference.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#20
^ m'kay mr. mackey

the thing is, while i personally do enjoy using things during the creation process it's not the chemicals that are writing the music, its me. it just lets me listen in a somewhat different way i guess and make different decisions on things that i'm already knowledgeable in. ive never heard a bad composer take drugs and write an awesome composition but i have heard good composers write something under the influence and have it come out sounding awesome because during the songwriting process their frame of mind was different.

the above statement is not an endorsement of drug use
Last edited by z4twenny at Apr 21, 2011,
#21
Quote by Myshadow46_2
You need the talent first. Drugs won't give you that talent. If you've got the talent, drugs can help inspire you in your creativity. That's all there is to it.
Yep, that's it.

Quote by z4twenny
^ m'kay mr. mackey

the thing is, while i personally do enjoy using things during the creation process it's not the chemicals that are writing the music, its me. it just lets me listen in a somewhat different way i guess and make different decisions on things that i'm already knowledgeable in. ive never heard a bad composer take drugs and write an awesome composition but i have heard good composers write something under the influence and have it come out sounding awesome because during the songwriting process their frame of mind was different.

the above statement is not an endorsement of drug use
Yeah I feel like drugs can help you open up your creativity where it might be inhibited when sober. They don't give you the creativity though.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Apr 21, 2011,
#22
Quote by AeolianWolf
you just skimmed right over the south park reference.


I didn't realise the 95% thing was part of mackey's quote & I thought it was a point that needed to be made, side-issue though it is.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#23
*Disclaimer: I've never done an illegal drug of any sort, but this is my hypothetical viewpoint on the matter. Correct me if I say anything entirely incorrect.*

The way I see it, you have to have the musical talent either way: a drug isn't going to help you write if you don't know the first thing about composition. Beyond that, it's a matter of the way your brain works.

(Well, no shit.)

Here's where the debate comes in: A good number of musicians are trained to compose a certain way, whether by formal instruction or simply by habit. In such, we tend to conform to a set of predetermined guidelines. The only thing drug use is going to do is let you disregard these barriers, and thus explore new musical territory. Sometimes it'll turn out great, other times it'll be utter shit. The times when it does turn out well get remembered/recorded, and those victories are attributed to drug use.

Now, some people (such as myself, if I can say that and not seem entirely arrogant) can ignore these barriers to creativity without the use of any drug whatsoever... in which case, drug use isn't going to help out a whole lot. It'd probably make it worse, with maybe a few minor successes.

So really, even though some musicians rely heavily on drugs to make music, it's not necessary at all, and not beneficial for many. If it helps you, personally, then go for it, but realize the adverse effects of your habit.
#24
Of course druggies use a lot of excuses to justify their position on using drugs. "Doing it for the music" could be one of those reasons, when in fact all you're doing is sitting at home getting high all day.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#25
Quote by AlanHB
Of course druggies use a lot of excuses to justify their position on using drugs. "Doing it for the music" could be one of those reasons, when in fact all you're doing is sitting at home getting high all day.

Are you really that closed-minded?

How is your post even relevant to the current debate? Namely: whether the use of certain drugs, under certain conditions could possibly allow someone to view their reality from a different angle and therefore possibly allow them to write music that they wouldn't have even thought of trying while sober?

When did anybody say they were sitting at home getting high all day? Did you know that alcohol is a drug? Just because you drink (I'm assuming) on occasion doesn't mean you sit at home everyday all day drinking. And not many drinkers would deny that alcohol tends to enhance a party experience. Certain drugs tend to enhance the creative experience.

Don't lump all drugs into one category because their effects vary wildly.
#26
I'm not really against drugs, but personally i don't think that drugs are needed to get more creative. Its just about having a different mindset really. Drugs can give you that, but so can tons of other things, so i think it is most of all an excuse just to do drugs.

For example.. i find that if you just.. flex your mind? Stuff will be different. you feel IT another way. Whatever you are playing or trying to play to, feel it another way, basically like changing perspective, and that will affect the outcome of whatever you do.

Anyway, on the whole drug issue. If people wanna do drugs, fine, but it will hurt them more as musicians in the end if it becomes a habit. When they think they NEED it to do what they do, the drugs are abusing them and not the other way around.

Anyway, thats my two cent.
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#27
Quote by Northernmight
I'm not really against drugs, but personally i don't think that drugs are needed to get more creative. Its just about having a different mindset really. Drugs can give you that, but so can tons of other things, so i think it is most of all an excuse just to do drugs.

For example.. i find that if you just.. flex your mind? Stuff will be different. you feel IT another way. Whatever you are playing or trying to play to, feel it another way, basically like changing perspective, and that will affect the outcome of whatever you do.

Anyway, on the whole drug issue. If people wanna do drugs, fine, but it will hurt them more as musicians in the end if it becomes a habit. When they think they NEED it to do what they do, the drugs are abusing them and not the other way around.

Anyway, thats my two cent.

Nobody said drugs were *needed* to be more creative, just that some drugs *can* help people be more creative under certain conditions.

People really muddle these kinds of debates with such extraneous bits of information.
#28
simply put, i lot of this is titled "psychedelic rock" because it is rock music INSPIRED by psychedelic trips. that doesnt mean it would suck if there weren't drugs involved, i prefer to write music sober. i've smoked marijuana on occasion, when sober i'd compare my music to ryan adams, when high it sounds more like king crimson. thats not better, i'm actually getting tired of this weird psychedelic super-proggy junk with like a dozen instruments playing simultaneous individual melodies in ever-changing time sigs...i just wanna relax and jam haha. best to be sober for that kinda thing.

anyway, nobody makes better music cuz they're high...i've definitely seen the exact opposite happen A LOT. but getting high can be an inspiration for some material, just like anything else u think about could be inspiration.
#29
There are some drugs that might help you. I say go for it, but be responsible. Drugs won't all of the sudden give you talent, but they certainly help creativity by giving you a new mind to think in for a bit.

Drugs are awesome things but be careful.
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#30
Quote by Riffman15
I'll bet its a "spurious" correlation: Some other variable is causing both the drug use and the good song writing.

Do drugs cause good song writing? Or does talent cause good songwriting?

I'd say both are caused by another factor, "age" in many cases.

Quite simply, when we are young, we are more likely to do drugs. Also, we tend to be more creative, more inspired, more curious, have more to prove. Testosterone peaks around the early to mid 20's in men, and slowly declines thereafter.

Yeah we all know about guys like mustaine, hetfield, who just suck these days - no offense if you are still a fan, but let's face it they are WAY past their prime.


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#31
Quote by -TM-
Are you really that closed-minded?


I can see that this is a touchy subject for you. I'll rephrase.

As discussed above, there is no connection between drug use and great music. But there is a connection between people who use drugs daily (what I meant by the term "druggies") and a lack of reliability and productivity. It is more common that somebody who is stoned all day to sit home and do nothing than creating masterpieces and actively sharing them with the world.

But then again, all the working musicians I know don't use drugs that much. Of course there is a general culture of drinking and smoking some jays at parties or after a gig (some before) and such, but none completely wasted off their brains the entire time you hang around them. There's a good reason for this - people want to play with reliable people who can get work done and show up on time. Quite often you'll have the guy who gets kicked from the band because he was always "drug ****ed", "drunk" or "stoned".

I'm not saying drugs are bad, but those people with obvious addictions aren't the best people to work with, and most people will opt to work with the person without drug problems than the ones with drug problems.

Add to this the fact that most people with addictions will often seek excuses to justify their addiction. They didn't quit because "it would kill me", because "it was easier not to", because "it would hurt the baby", because "it doesn't hurt anyone but me". Amongst these excuses you could find "I'm doing it for the music". Extremely deluded, but can be found amongst the many self justifications a person with a serious addiction can throw at you.

Then throw in the guy in the first question, who's rushing off to do drugs because it will help with his music. Does this person sound like a person who puts his music or the drugs first?

I don't consider myself a closed-minded person, I deal with drug addicts on a daily basis, and I'm going off my personal experience. I don't have any moral stance on whether a person takes drugs or not, I'm simply stating fact.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#32
u just have to look at all the biggest bands especiallty the older ones,99 percent were on drugs,of course it catches up with u but it def plays a big part in creativity.
#33
Ya they alter conciousness so can definitely inspire creation. In all honesty...look at the greatest band of all time....do any of u really like beatles for sale more than say magical mystery tour?

I do agree that talent must already exist
#34
Also pretty sure tres from phish struggled when he was cleaning up as he had gotten so used to being intoxicated while playing, so u can definitely overdo it
#35
You definitely have to have the talent before hand. Smoking a couple bowls or dropping some acid or taking some pills won't give you the power to play the actual instrument.

However the idea looks promising from actual active musicians from the 60s-90s (I can't think of any now a days that fit that mold). You look at a band like Aerosmith, america's great rock band, and almost all of their songs in the early days were written drug induced and they have admitted it. They locked themselves away writing the "toys in the attic" record lol.

The talent has to be there before hand though, steven tyler still has a great unique voice and lyrical mind on drugs or off, Joe Perry is still a great guitarist on or off drugs. But hey if they get stoned out of their mind and produce "Sweet Emotion" more power to them lol.


Just try it a few times and see if it works for you, it's probably not for everyone. I've tried it for the sake of trying it and even just being mildly stoned I just kept strumming the same chord over....and over....and over lol. Didn't help me compositionally ha
#36
I can say with the upmost certainty that altering the mind with chemicals will have an effect on your playing. Its ironic to me that some of you see this approach as only damaging and beleive that it has no advantage.

Our Psychology is an amazing thing, and using the natural stimuli in which this earth provides for us to alter our psychological prowess is something that is very commonly underestimated or mis-judged.

I don't like to think of myself as somebody with talent, but I'm also not one that beleives in talent, I believe everyone is capable of anything they put their mind to - regardless of being born with "talent" or not.

Sometimes i get stuck in boxes when im playing, I'll start the month off learning a new technique or song, or I'll start experimenting with chords and how they sound together, it all works out for a couple days, somtimes a couple weeks but eventually I hit a wall.

A wall I think every guitar player hits from time to time.

Boredom, the inability to produce anything completely new or interesting. I mean sure, the stuff I'm playing still sounds cool to me and everything, but i'm getting bored with it, and very self consious when I'm playing in front of people that have heard me play before. I don't want them to think "Hey that guy just plays the same stuff over and over agian all the time"

Correct me if im wrong, but I think everyone runs into this problem from time to time, and if they dont, well then reading the rest of this would be pointless to you.

The ol phrase "Think outside the box" is the best possible correlation I can compare with playing while intoxicated. I can say from personal experience that If im in a slump, 9 times outta 10 I can introduce an outside stimulis (like marijuana) and obtain new creative ideas.

It comes down to how you think about playing, while your playing. I have a much easier time coming up with new riffs and experimenting with new chords and rhythms when I have a different approach to thinking about it. Some may point out that there are other ways to do this, which I'm not disputing.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the Beatles didnt do drugs that they would have been successful regardless. However, if you ask me if I think the Beatles would have written the same kinds of songs about the same kinds of things and introduced a whole new perspective on music like they did, without drugs, I would without hesitation say no. In lamens terms, the Beatles would still be the Beatles, but they wouldnt have been nearly as influential.
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Last edited by Vypor at May 9, 2011,
#37
I have found that drugs only slow my songwriting down. Then again (hopefully without sounding pretentious), my songwriting tends to focus on more complex harmonic interest, multiple parts being played at the same time and the use of motifs. That's just way too much for me to focus clearly on when under influence.

Again, this is a personal thing.
#38
Quote by Keth
I have found that drugs only slow my songwriting down. Then again (hopefully without sounding pretentious), my songwriting tends to focus on more complex harmonic interest, multiple parts being played at the same time and the use of motifs. That's just way too much for me to focus clearly on when under influence.

Again, this is a personal thing.
Yeah I'm sort of the same way, except I think I get too wrapped up in harmonic complexity that I forget about developing melody and motifs.

But yeah, as this proves, it is a very personal thing.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#39
Quote by Vypor
There is no doubt in my mind that if the Beatles didnt do drugs that they would have been successful regardless. However, if you ask me if I think the Beatles would have written the same kinds of songs about the same kinds of things and introduced a whole new perspective on music like they did, without drugs, I would without hesitation say no. In lamens terms, the Beatles would still be the Beatles, but they wouldnt have been nearly as influential.


That was about vibe, zeitgeist more than drugs. We now associate that era so much with drugs we think the drugs were its primary cause rather than an effect.

You don't need drugs to make your imagination work, you need imagination.
#40
In order for drugs to be able to make you write great music, you have to already have the potential to write great music.
All that drugs do is make you see the world a little differently, which in turn can influence you to try something different music wise, but unless you already have potential talent as a song writer, then drug use won't give you talent.

Personaly, I've done my share of playing with chemical toys, I've even written some pretty good songs while high or drunk, but I've never once considered that I could only write in those styles while high or drunk.

Essentially, there really isn't any need for drugs in songwriting because you can write amazing music without them. It may be fun, but it's not essential.
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