Monday, April 20, 2009

Drugs: Codine

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Codine


In 1963, Canadian Cree folksinger Buffy Sainte-Marie became addicted to codeine while recovering from throat surgery. The song she produced from that experience may put the shakes of withdrawal in the voice of a male protagonist, but the avid, apt description of the enslavement and relief the drug produces are a roadmap to her own recovery, and fair warning for a nation of sixties countercultural folkfans playing with chemical fire as they tested the limits of their minds and bodies.

I find much of Buffy Sainte-Marie's music overwrought, but this is a perfect match of subject and slow, raw soul-baring folk blues. No wonder Codine would go on to become one of Sainte-Marie's most covered songs, picked up by the likes of Donovan, Gram Parsons, and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Here's an early, oddly poppy example from the psycho'lectric end of the spectrum:

The Charlatans: Codine


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