Drinkin' Music


by Carter Davis

So I wasn’t actually there when alcohol was invented, but rumor has it when the cave people discovered fermented spirits, music of some sort was very likely involved. Tasty tunes and alcohol have been joined at the hip since the dawn of time—again, don’t quote me—making for a great pairing with barbecued mastodon or an evening out with friends. You remember evenings spent in public places with other humans, right? That’s a thing people used to do.

But I digress.

And since music and adult beverages go together better than Boogie and Nights, here’s a quick playlist of songs that might sound just a little bit better with a drink in hand. And no, they’re not ALL country songs, smarty pants.


“Whiskey Helps” — Stone Senate

I discovered this band quite accidentally during a random YouTube binge—likely looking for obscure Paul Lynde videos—but this by-the-numbers Southern rock track immediately burrowed its way into my gray matter. If you tend to enjoy your whiskey between rides on your Harley, this might be the perfect accompaniment. With lyrics like “Everybody told me to try something else; but for now only whiskey helps,” the song has all the nuance of a sledgehammer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“Streams of Whiskey” — The Pogues 

You’ve seen those “try not to laugh challenges” on YouTube, yes? Well, I have a new game for you. Try listening to this earworm without at least imagining yourself with a drink in hand. Good luck. You’re gonna need it.

“Bartender” — T-Pain

T-Pain is to drinking songs as T-Pain is to Auto-Tune. And to be honest, you could make a playlist of drinking songs just from his catalog alone. But there can be only one, Highlander, so I’m picking this as my dance partner.  Shakespeare it ain’t, but WYSIWYG with T-Pain, and when he sings the uber-intellectual hook—“She made me drinks to drink; we drunk ‘em; we’re drunk”—and then high fives himself in the video, I’m betting you’ll catch yourself singing along.

“Cheers (Drink to That)” — Rihanna

Once upon a time, ya girl RiRi used to make music. Even though she’s more focused on fashion and other pursuits these days, songs like this are a reminder of her talent for crafting mega-catchy party tunes. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in 12 states to jam this track without a drink in hand. As Rihanna sings in the ridiculously catchy and soaring chorus, “I’ll drink to that.”

“Friends in Low Places” — Garth Brooks

If you were alive in the 1990s, you couldn’t avoid this song if you tried. It. Was. Everywhere. I spent the majority of one summer in a sketchy pool hall with friends during high school, and I heard this tune so many times it’s a permanent part of my DNA. And unlike Garth’s alter ego, Chris Gaines, Friends in Low Places has staying power, is lots of fun and doesn’t totally suck.

“Whiskey Girl” — Gillian Welch

I mean, the song does have the word “whiskey” in the lyrics, but this composition doesn’t have much to do with the act of drinking itself. But my word, this song goes down smooth.

“Brass Monkey” — Beastie Boys

Way before this trio of Tibet-freeing, sabotaging, toque-wearing gents were reveling in their status as hip-hop royalty, they were little more than poorly disguised frat-boy energy. Their debut full-length, License to Ill, was an alcohol-drenched exercise in debauchery, and this tune embodied their carefree outlook on life at the time. Sing it with me: “Put your left leg down, your right leg up. Tilt your head back; let's finish the cup.” (And pour some out for MCA).

“There Stands the Glass” — Webb Pierce

Set to music, this morality tale is a thorough examination of the human psyche, filtered through the prism of self-induced isolation and the duality of humanity’s desire for companionship and solitude. Or it’s just a song about getting drunk and being self-centered. Whatevs. It still slays.

“Beer for Breakfast” — The Replacements

So the lyrics—“All I wanna do is drink beer for breakfast”—might not be the best life advice, but there’s a time and place for everything, know what I’m saying? And if you’ve been enjoying some adult beverages as you read this, you can likely identify with the way the song unravels as it progresses.

“Whiskey in the Jar” — Thin Lizzy

Like Vanessa Williams said, we saved the best for last. If you can imagine a more iconic song about drinking, well, write your own dang list. The late great Phil Lynott and co. aren’t messing around. Put the whiskey in the jar. Drink the whiskey from the jar. Rinse and repeat.