7 of the Most Spirited Songs About Booze

Throughout the ages, songs have repeatedly surfaced paying some reference or homage to booze. Wine, whiskey, vodka, and hooch—all and more have been epitomized in song. By the mid-20th century, the (uncredited) folk ditty “99 Bottles of Beer” was already being used as a counting song for children.

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In 1961, Ray Charles took on The Clovers’ song, “One Mint Julep,” which blamed a forbidden kiss on the bourbon cocktail, to No. 1. A decade later, The Kinks shared a darker story of drinking with “Alcohol,” while Willie Nelson had a few shots of the brown stuff on his heartbreaking lament “Whiskey River.” The Pogues also slipped through “Streams of Whiskey” in 1984, and AC/DC toasted with “Have a Drink on Me” and “Whiskey on the Rocks.”

Songs associated with alcohol are endless. Communal, joyful, and sometimes more pensive and melancholy, booze-fueled songs have played out in all forms over the decades. Alcohol has also been used as a metaphor for love and other subject matter, or tied to straight-up imbibing and partying.

Listen back, and there’s a boozy song for nearly any occasion. Here’s a look at just seven of some of the most spirited songs linked to alcohol, released over the past 70 years.

1. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” Amos Milburn (1953)
Written by Rudy Toombs 

Throughout the 1950s, R&B singer and musician Amos Milburn had a number of alcohol-themed hits —”Bad, Bad Whiskey” (1950), “Thinking and Drinking” (1952), “Let Me Go Home, Whiskey” (1953), and “Good, Good Whiskey” (1954). Of all his spirited tunes, “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” written by Rudy Toombs and first released by Milburn in 1953, was the song that kept on resurfacing over the decades. In 1966, John Lee Hooker first covered it, followed by George Thorogood and the Destroyers in 1977.

The song follows a guy who’s down and out on his luck. He can’t pay his rent, and his girl just left him, so he goes to his local bar and orders one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.

One bourbon, one scotch, one beer
Well I ain’t seen my baby since I don’t know when
I’ve been drinking bourbon, whiskey, scotch and gin
Gonna get high man I’m gonna get loose
Need me a triple shot of that juice
Gonna get drunk don’t you have no fear
I want one bourbon, one scotch and one beer
One bourbon, one scotch, one beer

2. “Red, Red Wine,” Neil Diamond (1967)
Written by Neil Diamond

By the mid-1960s, Neil Diamond‘s songs were being recorded and covered by other artists, including The Monkees’ 1966 hit “I’m a Believer” and gave Lulu a top 10 with ‘The Boat That I Row.” Elvis Presley even covered “Sweet Caroline” in 1969. Within this period, Diamond released “Red Red Wine” on his second album, Just For You, in 1967, a song praising the crimson alcohol that can help make one forget all their problems.

When released by Diamond, the song peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 before falling off the chart. In 1983, the British pop group UB40 covered “Red Red Wine,” which topped the charts in the U.K., and later reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 when it was re-released in 1988.

Red, red wine goes to my head
Makes me forget that I still need her so

Red, red wine, it’s up to you
All I can do I’ve done
Memories won’t go, memories won’t go

I’d have sworn that with time
Thoughts of you leave my head
I was wrong, now I find
Just one thing makes me forget

3. “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar),” The Doors (1966)
Originally written by Bertolt Brecht and composed by Kurt Weill; additional lyrics by Jim Morrison

Also dubbed “Moon over Alabama” and “Moon of Alabama,” the “Alabama Song” was first written as a poem by playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht and later set to music by Kurt Weill for his 1927 operatic satire play, Little Mahagonny.

In 1967, The Doors brought their own psychedelic, carnival-fueled spin to the song and released it as “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” on their debut, self-titled album.

Also a fan of Brecht, David Bowie also performed the song during his Isolar II tour in 1978 and released his version on the live album, Stage.

Well show me the way
To the next whiskey bar
Oh don’t ask why
Oh don’t ask why

Show me the way
To the next whiskey bar
Oh don’t ask why
Oh don’t ask why

For if we don’t find
The next whiskey bar
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you, I tell you
I tell you we must die

4. “Tennessee Whiskey,” David Allan Coe (1981)
Written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove

When Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove originally wrote “Tennessee Whiskey,” they brought it to George Strait, who turned it down. The song was eventually recorded by David Allan Coe in 1981 but didn’t chart very well until George Jones released it two years later. Jones’ version hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

While working on his 2015 debut, Traveller, Chris Stapleton would often play “Tennessee Whiskey” as a warm-up song with his band. Producer Dave Cobb suggested Stapleton record it, and it was eventually cut for Traveller. Nearly 35 years after it was first released, Stapleton took “Tennessee Whiskey” to No. 1 on the country chart and picked up an ACM nomination for Song of the Year in 2017.

In the lyrics, the narrator praises the woman who rescued him and calls her as smooth as Tennesse whiskey, as sweet as strawberry wine, and as warm as a glass of brandy.

Used to spend my nights out in a barroom
Liquor was the only love I’ve known
But you rescued me from reachin’ for the bottom
And brought me back from being too far gone

You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
You’re as sweet as strawberry wine
You’re as warm as a glass of brandy
And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time

5. “Gin and Juice,” Snoop Dogg (1994)
Written by Snoop Dogg

In “Gin and Juice,” Snoop Dogg is celebrating the “paradise cocktail,’ a concoction of gin and juice, which just happens to go well with “Indo,” or marijuana. Released on Snoop’s 1994 debut, Doggystyle, and produced by Dr. Dre, “Gin and Juice” goes into all the hedonistic pleasures surrounding the drink and centers around a party of sex, booze, and weed.

The iconic chorus—Rollin’ down the street smokin’ indo / Sippin’ on gin and juice / Laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind)—is sung by David Ruffin Jr., son of the late Temptations singer David Ruffin.

Get your motherfuckin’ glass, ’cause it’s a blast from the past
You didn’t think would touch it two times
Gin and Juice up in this bitch, yeah
Some of that Beats By the Pound flavor, you feel me (you heard me)
Get your ice, get your cups, ’cause we ’bout to get fucked in here
You heard me? Straight up

6. “Blame It (On the Alcohol),” Jamie Foxx, featuring T-Pain (2009)
Written by Jamie Foxx, T-Pain, Christopher “Deep” Henderson, Nathan L. Walker, James T. Brown, Brandon R. Melanchon, John Conte, Jr., Breyon Prescott

Blame it on the vodka / Blame it on the Henny (Hennessey) sings Jamie Foxx on his dance club hit. Released on Foxx’s third album, Intuition, “Blame It” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where it spent 14 weeks. The song broke the record for the most amount of weeks a male artist topped the latter chart.

In addition to T-Pain, Intuition also features Kanye West, Timbaland, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Lil’ Kim, T.I. Fabolous, The-Dream. 

Blame it on the Goose
Gotcha feelin’ loose
Blame it on the ‘Tron
Got you in the zone
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol

Blame it on the vodka
Blame it on the Henny
Blame it on the blue tap
Gotcha feelin’ dizzy
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol

7. “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” Elle King, featuring Miranda Lambert (2021)
Written by Elle King and Martin Johnson

When Elle King started writing “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” with Martin Johnson, she was actually living through it. “I started writing it when I was 24—much, much drunker,” admitted King in a 2021 interview. “I was really living that life, too.”

“Drunk” was one of two songs King wrote with Johnson over two days—the other being “America’s Sweetheart,” released on her 2015 album, Love Stuff. King later released “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” on her third album, Come Get Your Wife, and called on Miranda Lambert for its rousing duet.

“We are new friends but it really feels like we are old friends and I felt like that immediately when I met her at one of her shows,” said Lambert of her collaboration with King. “Since then, we’ve toured together and sang on stage together, hung out and partied together, recorded together, and so much more. This song just feels like the natural transition to the after-party.”

So bartender, take my keys
What do you want from me?
Baby, I’m drunk, and I don’t wanna go home
Not staying in to fight
I’m staying out all night
Baby, I’m drunk, and I don’t wanna go home

We don’t gotta wait until the weekend
There’s always time for jumping off the deep end
So don’t you wait up tonight
Don’t worry, I’ll be fine

Read the entire story behind “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” HERE.

Photo by Mat Hayward / Getty Images

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