40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

A sampling of drinking songs local, south of the border, and global

“Alcohol,” GBH (1981)

What began as a piss-take on post-punk from one of the first UK acts to rev the sound to Motörhead specs became a powerful mid-tempo stomper live. Although a celebration, "You're like a kind of religion," it doesn't downplay hooch's significant downside: "Tonight I'm wearing incontinence pants!" – Tim Stegall

“Bartender,” Alexis & Fido (2009)

The Latin Grammy-nominated Puerto Ricans shout out hardworking servicemen/women by prescribing shots. The internationally charting dance track chronicles post-breakup club activities as the reggaeton duo and Wild Dogz Music CEOs prove that "Bartender" is the only English you need to know in a club. – Clara Wang

“Beer,” Asylum Street Spankers (2000)

From Spanker Madness, an album dedicated to wacky weed and the futility of the War on Drugs (the policy, not the band), "Beer" pointedly, and in great detail, eschews the charms of other mind-altering substances in favor of an ice cold brew. Former Austinite Wammo and his fellow all-acoustic River City eclecticians inject Johnny Cash's chickaboom with hardcore punk fuel. – Michael Toland

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Beer, Beer, Beer,” Clancy Brothers (1969)

The origins of "B3" prove hazy, but Emerald Isle expatriates the Clancy Brothers' rollicking rendition endures. Staples of the Greenwich Village club scene who counted Bob Dylan a fan, their 1961 Ed Sullivan Show performance in matching Aran sweaters spread trad Irish folk stateside. – Libby Webster

“Black Milk,” The Beasts of Bourbon (1990)

Australia's answer to the Rolling Stones of Altamont infamy, the Beasts' mission of fermented decadence comes to a head on the title track of their third album, which emulates the effects of the titular milk/vodka concoction through a slow, hazy, blues grind. Singer Tex Perkins mutters and moans at his most dissolute. – Michael Toland

“Boogie Street,” Leonard Cohen (2001)

On one of Ten New Songs, Leonard Cohen weaved alcohol and sex together in a manner both familiar and different from his usual poetry. The late Canadian wrote the song after stumbling upon Boogie Street in Singapore, a place so far removed from the experience that he went slumming in song. It became a play in 2016. – William Harries Graham

“Borracho Sin Cantina,” Vicente Fernández (1972)

King of the traditional Mexican genre ranchera, Vicente Fernández penned "Borracho Sin Cantina" ("Drunk Without a Bar") about a forlorn and desperate troubadour begging the bartender to leave him alone at the bar. The Guadalajaran's booming voice encapsulates desolate heartbreak, trademark to many of his award-winning traditional ballads. – Alejandra Ramirez

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Brass Monkey,” Beastie Boys (1986)

A perfect summation of everything right and wrong with the New York City hip-hop trio's raucous, Rick Rubin-produced debut, Licensed to Ill. Despite cloying, white boy swagger, the blaring sample from Wild Sugar's "Bring It Here" and an infectious beat cemented the clamoring ode to pre-mixed cans of OJ, vodka, and dark rum as a definitive party anthem. – Libby Webster

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Champagne Supernova,” Oasis (1996)

Fifty seconds into seven-and-a-half-minute epic "Champagne Supernova," complete confusion reigns. What the hell does "Slowly walking down the hall/ Faster than a cannonball" mean? Author Noel Gallagher has proved dismissive of any criticism, so it's best to approach the Top 20 U.S. single by pouring another glass of bubbly and waiting for the guitars on the earworm chorus to kick in. – Abby Johnston

“Cheve,” Control Machete (1996)

Piecing together last night's liquor and libido exploits, this Monterrey, Mexico, hip-hop trio ping-pongs lines between Fermín "IV" Caballero Elizondo's gruff tone and Patricio "Pato" Elizalde and Antonio "Toy" Hernández's drunken delivery. While the song and its Baby Huey sample flew under the radar on debut Mucho Barato, the album gained popularity on Latin American radio. – Alejandra Ramirez

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Dame Otro Tequila,” Paulina Rubio (2004)

Latin No. 1, "Dame Otro Tequila" dances upbeat horns to a hook that brokers no argument: "Give me another tequila." Mexican pop star Rubio toasts bad lovers and future successes by setting fire to a cheater's wardrobe, reveling with oiled-up male troubadours, and pouring shots in an MTV music video. Pure danger around bad breakups. – Clara Wang

“Drink I’m Sippin On,” Yaeji (2017)

Luring single off her latest EP2, rising New York and Seoul-based producer Kathy Yaeji Lee melds trademark sensitivity with house and pop, softly rapping in Korean and English over propulsive backbeats. The video: 6 million views and counting. – Rachel Rascoe

“Drinking About My Baby,” the Damned (1980)

Combustive Damned drummer Rat Scabies once claimed he and manic guitarist Captain Sensible staved off hangovers on tour by "staying drunk." This boozy creed from the psych-and-prog-damaged The Black Album disguises a tender breakup lyric with one of the album's few two-chord punk ravers: "Friends of yours keep asking where you are." – Tim Stegall

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“8 Ball,” N.W.A. (1988)

Eight-ball retains a few meanings, but here Eazy-E raps gleefully about malt liquor: "Olde English 800, because that's my brand/ Take it in a bottle, 40, quart, or can." Recklessly boozy lyrics from the Compton MC (1964-1995) match Dr. Dre's ragged sampling of the Beasties' "Paul Revere" and Public Enemy's "Terminator X Speaks With His Hands." – Kahron Spearman

“En el Cielo No Hay Cer­veza,” Flaco Jiménez (2003)

Conjunto innovator and San Antonio son Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez details a copious beer blowout in preparation for the thirst quencher's absence upstairs. Fluid and masterful accordion lines drive the trilingual homage to his hometown, where the Texan genre intersected German polkas and waltz. – Alejandra Ramirez

“Fifty Cents,” Duke of Iron (1957)

This Trinidadian payout is like Dave Chappelle's date in Half Baked – circa 1957. Over island horns and calypso guitar, Cecil Anderson recounts his lady's order: a pint of gin, a Pink Lady, a Bloody Mary. A lemon pop with rum on top, they call it the Zombie. When she calls for more rum, he goes deaf and dumb. He only had 50 cents. – Dan Gentile

“Have a Drink On Me,” AC/DC (1980)

Top 40 bow from the second-best-selling rock album of all time, "You Shook Me All Night Long" bops bubblegum compared to the doomy gravitas of its Back in Black B-side, largely considered a tribute from singer Brian Johnson to his dead drunk predecessor Bon Scott: "So don't worry about tomorrow, take it today/ Forget about the check, we'll get hell to pay." – Raoul Hernandez

Paul Westerberg’s handwritten lyrics to the Replacements’ “Here Comes a Regular”
Paul Westerberg’s handwritten lyrics to the Replacements’ “Here Comes a Regular”

“Here Comes a Regular,” the Replacements (1985)

End-of-summer vignette on the neighborhood bar, "Here Comes a Regular" bookends the Minneapolis punks' major label debut, Tim. Dark tribute to the Cheers theme, Paul Westerberg's acoustic ballad contributed to the album's dejected angst and landed it limited airplay. – Rachel Rascoe

“Hip Hop Drunkies,” Alkaholiks with Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1997)

If netting the immortal Russell Tyrone Jones (1968-2004) wasn't enough, producer E-Swift recalls that the Wu-Tang spitter and the 'Liks "had the biggest bottle of vodka on the planet, finished it before we started recording, and no one passed out before the song was over. It was a great evening." – Kahron Spearman

“However Much I Booze,” the Who (1975)

Hardly the granite power chords associated with the hardest-rocking hooligans ever to emerge from London's Shepherd's Bush, Pete Townshend's grim, introspective The Who by Numbers tunes include this 12-step self-loathing set to an odd country/prog hybrid: "I'm a faker, a paper clown/ It's clear to all my friends that I habitually lie; I just bring them down." Keith Moon's drum genius redeems all. – Tim Stegall

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“I Like Beer,” Tom T. Hall (1975)

Country's genius songwriter, 82, once skewered catty parents with "Harper Valley PTA" and cataloged a janitor's treasures on "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine," but the Kentucky native also reveled in sucking down suds. Other libations are too harsh, expensive, and disabling/enabling for Hall, who prefers the "mellow," "jolly-good fellow" he transforms into with an ice-cold brewski. – Abby Johnston

“I’m Drinking/Rum & Red Bull,” Beenie Man & Future Fambo (2010)

American bartenders might raise an eyebrow if you ordered rum mixed with an energy drink, but the sugarcane liquor flows more versatile in its Caribbean homeland. Hence, Beenie Man and Future Fambo's bouncy single complete with hiccups, which quenches the thirst brewed from a steamy Jamaican dance hall. Not the first time a lousy drink made for a catchy hook ("Gin and Juice"). – Kevin Curtin

“Impulsive Punishment,” Dao Lang (2002)

Baby-faced crooner Dao Lang belts heartbreak from China's Far West on breakout debut The First Snows of 2002. This Mandarin lament of drunken barroom love loops back to Maotai (Chinese vodka) after he's rejected. Trad Uyghur string instruments dutar and khushtar reverb through a lingering introduction haunted by his gravelly voice and sounds of the Taklamakan Desert. – Clara Wang

“Lamento Boliviano,” Enanitos Verdes (1994)

Argentinian Little Green Men get drunk in love and offer superstitious advice not to brush your hair in bed lest travelers be delayed. Or did they mean she shouldn't be so frigid? Originally written by Alcohol Etílico, which included members of Enanitos, the song erupted when Enanitos recorded it a decade later. – Christina Garcia

“Mead From Hell,” Alestorm (2014)

Scottish pirate metal quintet lauds grog's priority in the buccaneer's life with a thrashing sea shanty from Sunset on the Golden Age that chronicles the ocean-faring quest of "a man named Fred" who "brews his mead with psychotropic weeds" for an "alcoholic proof that's through the roof." Forget the Fountain of Youth. – Michael Toland

“Moonshiner,” Bob Dylan (1963)

High among the treasures of The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 from 1991 nestles this then-unreleased 100-proof folker. Though its origins remain widely disputed, most believe it's an ancient Irish drinking song. Covered by multitudes, the Bard's version still resonates loudest in fermenting his sweet sour mash vocal delivery with lonesome acoustic guitar. – William Harries Graham

“Muchachos, Esta Noche Me Emborracho,” La Mosca Tsé-Tsé (2003)

Guillermo Novellis led this Argentine third-wave ska band in bulging wraparound black shades like a human fly. On fourth album Tango Latino, Mosca thus drowns forbidden love's sorrows. Years later, the band's metamorphosed into Moskids, specializing in children classics like "La Cucaracha." – Christina Garcia

“Nice Day to Go to the Pub,” Cosmic Psychos (2011)

A grunge-punk Motörhead, this earthshaking Australian trio plowed its most fertile drinking anthem only 23 years into an inglorious career. Goliath frontman Ross Knight sings just 17 words on the Glorius Barsteds ode to pub life down under, listing bar food staples including schnitzel, chips, and "beetroot" – canned beets. – Kevin Curtin

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Nightrain,” Guns N’ Roses (1987)

Appetite for Destruction's fifth single and enduring GNR live hellraiser bottles the fortified wine Night Train Express. Popular among back alley dwellers, the 17.5% ABV vino makes MD 20/20 seem like baby formula. Axl Rose's opening line "Loaded like a freight train" should be NTE's official slogan. – Kevin Curtin

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” John Lee Hooker (1966)

Written by Rudy Toombs and first recorded by R&B singer Amos Milburn in 1953, this jump blues tune found reinvention in the long fingers of Delta deconstructionist John Lee Hooker, who added a personal narrative and Southside boogie to his signature raw, gloomy drag. – Kahron Spearman

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me),” Tom Waits (1976)

Unflinching character study of the neighborhood drunkard, this ivory trader from third LP Small Change skews near-nonsensical lyrically, both depressing and biting. Delivered with an air of being half-slumped against the wall, Waits' signature vocal gravel grates against the unpolished playing of an out-of-tune piano. – Libby Webster

“Sloppy Drunk Blues,” Leroy Carr (1930)

All of this quintessential bluesman's works center on whiskey and women, and in that order as noted in the title of a 2004 collection of his best works: Whiskey Is My Habit, Good Women Is All I Crave. The Nashville-born, Indianapolis-raised pianist and Ray Charles precursor died from alcoholism at 30, leaving a smooth urban vocal style and sadly ironic songs. – Clara Wang

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Somebody Put Something in My Drink,” Ramones (1986)

Before quitting over T-shirt royalties, short-timer Richie Ramone contributed this enduring Animal Boy opener. Stemming from the drummer's gin and tonic getting spiked with acid, mailbox money doesn't usually involve such hazards. Produced by onetime Plasmatics bassist Jean Beauvoir, Joey Ramone's unhinged lead vocal made "Drink" into a live set list standard. – Greg Beets

“Streams of Whiskey,” The Pogues (1984)

Shane MacGowan works harder than anybody to draw romantic poetry out of hardcore alcoholism, laying out his manifesto in this tin whistle anthem on the Irish rockers' debut Red Roses for Me. The singer's remarkable ability to make a contemporary composition sound centuries old puts him squarely in a long tradition of drink-soaked Celtic folk minstrels. – Michael Toland

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Too Drunk to Fuck,” Dead Kennedys (1981)

In the S.F. punk legends' fourth single, our protagonist tumbles through a moron-packed party with flaccid results. Ending in retching sounds and diarrhea, the twisted surf rocker reached No. 36 on the UK charts, the first single title touting an F-bomb to do so. It's still banned on-air and censored in stores. – Rachel Rascoe

“Tragos Amargos,” Ramón Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte (1980)

Accordion master Ramón Ayala gurgles a jilted lover's pitiful woes in one of Mexico's most popular Norteños about hitting the sauce. Accompanied by bajo sexto in a style influenced by German folk music, the 1980 hit continued a rise to fame begun in the Sixties. That dec­ade's "Comal y metate" contradicts rumors he's too drunk to even date. – Christina Garcia

“Vodka Sorrow,” Fionn Regan (2011)

A rambler from Irish folk muse Fionn Regan's third album 100 Acres of Sycamore, "Vodka Sorrow" describes a dreamlike state further blurred by alcohol that ultimately climaxes with a sense of cold sadness. A relative unknown, Regan blooms whimsical ability on this catalog highlight. – William Harries Graham

“What Good Can Drinkin’ Do,” Janis Joplin (1963)

Port Arthur's kozmik oracle rarely relinquished her bottle of Southern Comfort once fame hit. Her favorite drink while a student at UT remains anyone's guess, but she recorded her first track, "What Good Can Drinkin' Do" in Austin during that time. Written after Joplin drank herself into a stupor, her howls and whimpers are boozed-soaked blues legend. – Christina Garcia

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Whiskey in the Jar,” Thin Lizzy (1973)

Trad Scottish ballad "The Highwayman and the Captain" fermented into Irish "Whiskey in the Jar" beginning in the Fifties, detailing a brokenhearted rogue and his mistress. Hard rock rapscallion Phil Lynott, raised in his mother's hometown of Dublin, rode his plaintive murmur on it behind the first iteration of his UK trio to the top of the charts. Metallica employed Lizzy's arrangement on 1998's Garage, Inc. – Raoul Hernandez

40 Songs to Make You Feel Better (or Worse) About Drinking

“Whiskey River,” Willie Nelson (1973/1978)/Johnny Bush (1972)

This supercharged boogie opening Willie and Family Live took Nelson to No. 12 on the country charts. It's opened all his shows since. To find the true melancholic heart of this Texas dance hall standard, seek former Nelson drummer Johnny Bush's original 1972 shuffle: "Feeling the amber current flowing from my mind/ To a warm and empty heart you left so cold." – Tim Stegall

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by The Music Staff
Eight April Music Festivals In and Around Austin
Eight April Music Festivals In and Around Austin
From Rancho Alegre to Austin Blues, April offers ample opportunities

April 7, 2023

Your Field Guide to 80 Essential Acts at SXSW Music
Your Field Guide to 80 Essential Acts at SXSW Music
Highlighting the best and buzziest at this year's Festival

March 10, 2023


Drinks Issue 2018, Willie Nelson

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle