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Cocaine (song): Wikis


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Song by J.J. Cale

from the album Troubadour

Released September 1976
Recorded 1976
Genre Rock
Length 2:48
Label Mercury
Writer J.J. Cale
Producer Audie Ashworth
Troubadour track listing
Hold On
I'm a Gypsy Man
Single by Eric Clapton
from the album Slowhand
Released November 1977
Recorded May 1977
Genre Blues rock
Length 3:41
Label Polydor
Writer(s) J.J. Cale
Producer Glyn Johns

"Cocaine" is a song written and recorded by J.J. Cale in 1976 and most widely known in a cover version recorded by Eric Clapton. Allmusic calls the latter "among [Clapton's] most enduringly popular hits" and notes that "even for an artist like Clapton with a huge body of high-quality work, 'Cocaine' ranks among his best."[1]

Glyn Johns, who had previously worked with The Who, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, produced the Clapton recording, which was released on Clapton's 1977 album Slowhand and as a single in 1980. "Cocaine" failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 except as the 'B' side of "Lay Down Sally", which was a No. 3 hit in early 1978. "Cocaine" was one of several of Cale's songs recorded by Clapton, including "After Midnight" and "Travelin' Light".


The song's message

Eric Clapton describes "Cocaine" as "an anti-drug-song. The fans only listen to the refrain: ‘She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don't lie, cocaine.’ But it says, ‘If you wanna get down, down on the ground, cocaine.’"[2] The song also contains the lyric: "Don't forget this fact, you can't get it back".[3] Clapton has called the song "quite cleverly anti-cocaine", noting:[4]

"It’s no good to write a deliberate anti-drug song and hope that it will catch. Because the general thing is that people will be upset by that. It would disturb them to have someone else shoving something down their throat. So the best thing to do is offer something that seems ambiguous—that on study or on reflection actually can be seen to be ‘anti’—which the song "Cocaine" is actually an anti-cocaine song. If you study it or look at it with a little bit of thought... from a distance... or as it goes by... it just sounds like a song about cocaine. But actually, it is quite cleverly anti-cocaine."

Over the years, Clapton has added the lyrics 'that dirty cocaine' in live shows to underline the anti-drug message of the song.[5][6]


Clapton played "Cocaine" at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004. Although Cale was present, Clapton played this without him.[citation needed] Clapton would later join Cale when he played his set, which included "After Midnight". In 1988, Elton John and Mark Knopfler joined Clapton on stage to perform this at the 6th annual Prince's Trust Rock Gala.[citation needed]

Other cover versions

A live cover by the Scottish rock band Nazareth appears on their albums The Fool Circle and Snaz. Guitarist Andy Taylor of Duran Duran recorded it for his 1990 solo album Dangerous. In 2008, country singer Gretchen Wilson 'borrowed' the melody from the tag end of the chorus ("she don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie") for her song "Work Hard, Play Harder" (which also borrowed from The Black Crowes, as well).


  1. ^ Song Review of Clapton's cover of "Cocaine" by Allmusic
  2. ^ Stern magazine, Germany, 1998
  3. ^ J J Cale Guitar Styles and how to play them | J J Cale / Columbia Pictures Publications, 1980
  4. ^ The Best of Everything Show, with Dan Neer
  5. ^ 03/Oct/2006 Eric Clapton Rethinks Playing 'Cocaine'
  6. ^ 05/0ct/2006 Eric Clapton rethinks playing 'Cocaine' Alcohol and Drugs History Society

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