Captain Jack and Other Drug References

Hello all -

My wife and I were listening to the radio and Billy Joel’s Captain Jack came on the radio. The song is obviously about heroin. The lyrics “Just a little push and you’ll be flying” and “Captain Jack will get you high tonight,” are pretty hard to miss.

We begin speaking about other drug reference songs that were not quite as blatant. For example:

**Happiness is a Warm Gun (Beatles) - Heroin
**Mellow Yellow (Donovan) - Smoking the inner peel of Bananas.
**Puff the Magic Dragon - Smoking grass

So - two quick questions:

  1. Neither of us had ever heard of heroin being named “Captain Jack.” How did that reference come about?

  2. What are some other veiled drug references in songs? I can come up with a bunch of blatant ones. I’m looking for those clever one that might even be disputed by those that hear it.

Thanks -

Sorry - spell that subject line “Captain.”

First, “Captain Jack” is not a slang term for drugs. I read an interview years ago in which Billy Joel said “Captain Jack” was the name of a Long Island pusher that some his his friends used to buy drugs from.

Second, while many Beatle songs DID have drug references (some blatant, some disguised), I’m pretty sure “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” Wasn’t one of them. You may recall that Charles “Peanuts” Schulz had a popular comic collection called “Happiness Is a Warm Puppy (the cover featured Charlie Brown hugging Snoopy).” Well, some NRA, gun loving nut put out a poster, inspired by that book, saying “Happiness is a warm gun.” Lennon saw that poster, marvelled at its sickness (the idea that someone could find happiness in shooting and killing someone or something), and wrote a (mostly) nonsensical song inspired by those sentiments.

Peter Paul and Mary have always explicitly denied that Puff had anything to do with drugs.

I’ve always thought The Corrs’ “So Young” is a reference to MDMA:

*We’re spending all of our nights just
A - laughing and kissing, yeah
(Laughing and kissing, kissing and laughing)

And it really doesn’t matter that we don’t eat
And it really doesn’t matter if we never sleep
No it really doesn’t matter, really doesn’t matter at all

Coz we are so young now, we are so young, so young now
And when tommorow comes, we can do it all again*

To me, that’s quite blatant, but I’ve never heard anyone else mention it. I’d also like to know which drug, if any, Don’t You Worry 'Bout A Thing by (most recently?) Incognito refers to.

Grazing in the Grass

If this song isn’t about pot, I’ll eat my monitor. (and it’s a big monitor)

One that always sounded like a reference to me is in “Levon” by Elton John.
Levon sells cartoon ballons in town He makes alot they say.
Spends his days counting in a garage by the motor way"

Cartoon baloons is reference to drug, I imagine it to be heroin. And why would you keep your money in a garage? Placement close to the Expressway makes for a pretty easy get away.

Or, maybe I just have listened to too much Elton John.

I’d always heard that “Captain Jack” was a slang term for Jack Daniels whiskey.

If this is a drug reference, I’d imagine it would be heroin, not grass. When people smoke heroin, they put it on a peice of foil and heat it with a lighter from the bottom. Then they would take a straw and inhale the smoke coming off the top. This is called “chasing the dragon.” I always assumed that this is what the song referenced if it referenced anything.

“She fell in love with a bloke named Smokey,
She loved him though he was cokey.
He took her down to Chinatown
And showed her how to kick the gong around . . .”

–“Minnie the Moocher,” c1929; hardly subtle!

Well, the rumor was always that it was about pot, but as snopes tells us here it is meant to be about the end of childhood innocence.

“Panama Red” is the name of a potent variety of pot, and also a song done by who knows how many artists.

Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds = LSD.

Ever listen to the group “Cypress Hill”? Marijuana is the theme of most of their songs.

Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty.

“Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain.”

I have heard, more than once, that the “silver girl” in “Bridge over Troubled Water” was a reference to a hypodermic needle. I googled the lyrics and found this excerpt:

From Todd Gitlin, Media Unlimited, excerpted at But I also remember seeing that view rebutted and, unfortunately, I can’t remember where.

Just because a song has the word “puff” in the lyrics doesn’t mean it’s a drug song. Read the lyrics
It’s about a little boy and his toy dragon. There was a follow-up song where Jackie’s son find’s Puff stored away (in his cave), IIRC.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water”, now there’s a drug song. :wink:

I take it that this threads about drug references, so how about H.R. Puff N’ Stuffing

This site explains the matter:

LOL. The classics are always the best. As snopes explains HERE the title is a coincidence taken from a drawing that Julian had done at school.

I doubtit.

The Association caught a lot of flak in the '60s because some uptight squares who really needed to get a life accused their song “Along Comes Mary” of being secretly about marijuana.

There are several songs that are quite explicitly about Cannabis sativa, and the lyrics are only very thinly disguised.

Black Sabbath, “Sweet Leaf”
Kevin Ayers, “Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes” (the cleverest marijuana song ever)
Brownsville Station, “The Martian Boogie”

Then there are Bob Marley’s songs that are openly about ganja, without the slightest attempt to disguise it, like “Kaya”. Also “Legalise It” by Peter Tosh.