A good drinking song is a very important part of any booze enthusiast’s iPod. It often works with the alcohol to double-team our emotions and causes us to dance, scream, cry, smile, shout and ponder all in a very short time frame. Yes, some songs are just plain great to drink to, while others work better when they are actually about throwing a few back. In the names of summer and vacation, we here at Paste have put together a list of 20 of the best drinking songs. So grab your favorite drink, hook up your speakers, and find the perfect lean in your lawn chair.
- LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”
- Titus Andronicus – “Theme from Cheers”
- Sublime – “40 Oz. to Freedom”
- Hank Williams Jr. – “Family Tradition”
- LMFAO – “Shots”
Whiskey has long been romanticized as the aide for one’s troubles. Trampled by Turtles wrote its love letter to the spirit simply and beautifully. “I ain’t got a dime in my pocket,” Dave Simonett sings, “I just stepped on my last cigarette/But there’s a bar downtown that’ll give me credit.” Tabs are so clutch.
Booziest Lyrics: “Whiskey, won’t you come and take my troubles/’Cause I can’t seem to do it on my own.”
The Boston, Mass., band just gets it right on this drinking tune. Vocalist Stephen Merritt’s performance blurs the lines of what’s truth and sarcasm when you turn to the bottle for help. From the monotone chanting that lists off why being drunk is better than being sober to the chaotic, sing-along chorus, “Too Drunk to Dream” is pure indie-pop gold.
Booziest Lyrics: “Oh, sober, it’s ever darker/Shitfaced, the moon is nearer/Sober, you’re old and ugly/Shitfaced, who needs a mirror?”
There’s only one Chuck Ragan, and his band Hot Water Music had a superb drinking tune on 1997’s Fuel for the Hate Game. It’s an up-and-down ride of melody and anger. One of the best from HWM.
Booziest Lyrics: “Drinking all night and/Now it’s time to wind down/Talk about what we found.”
The customer-bartender relationship is a special one. That’s the basis for Rehab’s 2008 hit “Bartender Song (Sittin’ at a Bar).” “Bartender, I really did it this time” – that opening line sets it all up perfectly. The man in the song “broke his parole to have a good time” so he’s going to drink until the cops come for him. The remix with Hank Williams Jr. makes all the boozy trouble just a little sadder.
Booziest Lyrics: “And in my drunken stupor I did what I should’ve never done/Now I’m sitting here/Talking to you/Drunk and on the run.”
Just like a six pack, this Black Flag song is short, strong, and it will make you want to jump around a little bit.
Booziest Lyrics: “$35 and a six pack to my name/(Six pack)/Spent the rest on beer so who’s to blame/(Six pack).”
Every college bar band in America knows how to play this one because it doesn’t have to be St. Patty’s day to go get blinded with your buddies. And it’s always fun to watch others sing the lyrics wrong…or just scream obnoxiously before they down another. WHOAH OH OHHH!
Booziest Lyrics: “I’m a sailor peg/And I lost my leg.”
Drinking songs can be joyous, sad or something in between. Guess what this one is? The Possum was no stranger to a good time, but he really makes you feel this one until it hurts.
Booziest Lyrics: “With the blood from my body/I could start my own still/And if drinking don’t kill me/Her memory will.”
Never has a song so beautifully captured the love/hate relationship with alcohol like “When I Was Drinking.” The protagonist of the song is recalling a time full of debauchery with a love interest (and drinking buddy) who isn’t around anymore because the two split. It’s a heavy idea, leaving behind a life of boozing with the one you love for sobriety and isolation, and singer Sally Ellyson delivers the haunting lyrics so serenely they could stop you mid drink.
Booziest Lyric: “Twelve bars behind us and twelve bars to go/Bottles of beer lined up in a row/One for each hour that you didn’t show.”
Filling up a swimming pool with liquor seems a little excessive, but there’s no judgement in this list. The hook in this song is so simple but so damn catchy.
Booziest Lyrics: “Pour up (drank), head shot (drank)/Sit down (drank), stand up (drank)/Pass out (drank), wake up (drank)/Faded (drank), faded (drank).”
This is Paul Westerberg’s dark and poignant take on the Cheers theme “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.” Rest assured, it’s no sitcom. There’s a lot of pain involved with being like “a picture on a fridge that’s never stocked with food” at some dive-bar. Life isn’t as glamorous as Cheers, but being around people who call out your name sometimes helps dull the pain. No one should drink alone.
Booziest Lyrics: “And even if you’re in the arms of someone’s baby now/I’ll take a great big whiskey to ya anyway.”
Have you ever drank a Brass Monkey? Because it really is a funky monkey.
Booziest Lyrics: “When it’s time to get ill I pour it on my face/Monkey tastes def when you pour it on ice/Come on y’all it’s time to get nice.”
If we look at this from a historical perspective, “Cigarettes & Alcohol” is the younger sibling to the band’s smash hit “Champagne Supernova.” The former is grittier, tighter and not quite as hopeful. “Is it worth the aggravation/To find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for?” Liam Gallagher sings. I guess too much cigarettes and alcohol can make the future look bleak.
Booziest Lyrics: “Is it my imagination/Or have I finally found something worth living for?/I was looking for some action/But all I found was cigarettes and alcohol.”
The boys from Providence, R.I. are champions of reckless rock anthems, and this is one of their more blatantly boisterous ones. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter if it rains, there’s a hurricane, you’re already drunk, or “if you puke in my ride” – getting to the bar is ritual. Lead singer John McCauley has been curbing his alcohol and drug usage, so this song is a great example of “do what I say and not what I do.”
Booziest Lyics: “I don’t care if you puke in my ride/(Let’s all go to the bar)/Baby, just as long as you take your piss outside/(Let’s all go to the bar).”
Mr. Haggard is beyond skillful at delivering a playful, country drinking tune. This one is for the boys who need some time away from their lovers. “Ain’t no woman gonna change the way I think,” Haggard sings. There’s a good chance that this song will get you out on the dance floor, so make sure not to drink too many before you show off those moves. Unless that really works for you.
Booziest Lyrics: “Hey, puttin’ you down, don’t square no deal/Least you know the way I feel/Take all the money in the bank/I think I’ll just stay here and drink.”
Without the Pogues, bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly would have had to look elsewhere for some drunken, Celtic punk inspiration. This one starts off with a great line as well, “Well Jimmy played harmonica in the pub where I was born.” If that doesn’t signify a great drinking song, then who knows what does.
Booziest Lyics: “I took the jeers and drank the beers and crawled back home at dawn/And ended up a barman in the morning.”
One of the all-time greats. This should automatically play every time a college student goes on break or family members reunite in their hometown. Or at least when something like this happens.
Booziest Lyics: “Friday night they’ll be dressed to kill/Down at Dino’s bar and grill/The drink will flow and blood will spill/And if the boys want to fight, you’d better let them.”
The artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg burst on to the ‘90s rap scene with Doggystyle. His second single, “Gin and Juice,” became a party anthem, and it continues to keep rambunctious get-togethers going well past six in the morning.
Booziest Lyric: “Now, that, I got me some Seagram’s gin/Everybody got they cups, but they ain’t chipped in/Now this types of shit, happens all the time/You got to get yours but fool I gotta get mine.”
Some Doors songs are beautiful (“Light My Fire”). Some are powerful (“Roadhouse Blues,” “L.A. Woman”). Others, like “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar),” are a little scary. There’s such an eerie overtone as Morrison sings “Oh show me the way to the next whisky bar.” But, things can get kind of weird when you really want a drink.
Booziest Lyics: “For if we don’t find/The next whisky bar/I tell you we must die/I tell you we must die.”
Waits captures a hazy, inebriated state so well in “The Piano Has Been Drinking” that he even sounds like he’s had a few. In the song, Waits puts all the problems of a drinker and the world on objects found around a pub. It sounds like a sad song, but like a tattered wino smiling in the street, there’s something sweet about this boozy ballad.
Booziest Lyrics: “The piano has been drinking, my necktie is asleep/And the combo went back to New York, the jukebox has to take a leak.”
It’s one of the most notable drink orders in history, and John Lee Hooker delivers it best. Yes, the song is about getting fucked up, but the man hasn’t seen his baby “since the night before last.” She’s gone. Back in the day you couldn’t text angry lovers or leave messages to try and find them. You could post up at your favorite hole-in-the-wall joint and let the alcohol figure out the next step, which after a few bourbons/scotches/beers might be in some vomit.
Booziest Lyics: “I looked down the bar, at the bartender/He said, ‘Now what do you want, Johnny?’/One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.”