The New York Times, bless it, has clearly decided that it’s written enough about the fact that there are “hipsters” in a place called “Williamsburg,” because this weekend it turned itself to another earth-shattering revelation: there is a drug called “molly,” and young people these days seem to enjoy taking it. The article quoted such experts as a 26-year-old woman who took molly at a macrobiotic restaurant (“I felt I wasn’t putting as many scary chemicals into my body!”), a 22-year old senior at Columbia (“It makes you really happy!”), and, inevitably, Cat Marnell. As a whole, the report is not exactly high on cutting-edge analysis, and anyway, it’s all been done before. Here are ten songs that discuss the ecstasy experience long before the NYT did.
Pulp — “Sorted for E’s and Wizz”
The US’s post-millennial MDMA craze is kinda curious for anyone who grew up outside this country’s borders, because everywhere else ecstasy was big news almost 20 years ago. The drug’s highs and lows are related in Jarvis Cocker’s reminiscence of the golden era of clandestine acid house raves, from the thrills of grabbing tickets from “some fucked up bloke in Camden Town” and driving out into the middle of nowhere on the faith that you’ll somehow find the party, through the faux-brotherly hugging of people you’ve never met before, to the inevitable comedown and how terrible you feel the next day. As far as summations of the MDMA experience go, “In the middle of the night, it feels alright/ But then tomorrow morning, oh, then you come down,” is as succinct and accurate as you get.
The Shamen — “Ebeneezer Goode”
“His name is ‘Ezer and he is the main geezer/ And he vibes about the place like no other geezer could!” Oh, to think innocent children (including, um, this writer) sang along happily to the “E’s are good! E’s are good!” chorus, oblivious to its not-especially-hidden meaning! And yet we turned out sensible, mature adults who’d never dream of… um, OK, let’s move swiftly on, shall we?
Green Velvet — “La La Land”
Another cautionary tale, courtesy of Chicago house overlord Curtis Jones, aka Green Velvet. This song relates the perils of “those little pills/ Unreal the thrills they yield/ Until they kill a million brain cells,” and finishes with the plaintive appeal, “Has anybody seen my brain today? Can anybody pay my rent today?” None of this, of course, stopped it from being an anthem on the dance floor at about 4am, which only goes to show that the allure of a good tune rather outweighs the effect of a stern lyrical talking-to.
The Horrorist — “One Night in New York City”
From around the same time, the tale of an innocent Jersey teenager who ventures into the wilds of New York City in search of a good night out. Listen up, kids: if you take this newfangled molly drug, you will end up having hours of uproarious sex in an NYU dorm with a handsome stranger! Now, doesn’t that sound terrible? What? Oh.
Soft Cell — “Tainted Love”
Looking even further back, there’s a theory that Marc Almond’s decision to cover this relatively obscure Northern soul track was rooted in his experiences with the still-unnamed party drug that was just starting to work its way into mid-’80s club culture. The lyrics certainly make sense if examined in this context, especially if you’re given to crushing comedowns: “I’ve lost my light/ For I toss and turn I can’t sleep at night…”
Trinidad James — “All Gold Everything”
Yes, yes, you’re sweating. It’s because your heart rate has risen due to the drug’s effects as a stimulant, leading to an increase in body temperature that in turn catalyzes a mild form of hyperhidrosis, thus… what? Look, you’re as high as a kite, dude.
The Magnetic Fields — “Take Ecstasy With Me”
A song that pretty much defines the word “bittersweet” — its two verses encompass a failing gay relationship, homophobic violence, and the way that a drug that is supposed to be the scourge of our youth can also be a pretty tender and beautiful shared experience.
Tyga — “Molly”
True story: your correspondent used to live across from a terrifying nightclub that would play this song at bone-crushing volumes several times a night. It probably sounds great if you’ve worked your way through half a bag of the stuff, but less so if you’re just trying to get to sleep.
Kanye West — “Mercy”
As we discussed last week, Kanye does have a way with a clever lyric when he puts his mind to it, and his description of the MDMA experience here — “Something ’bout Mary, she gone off that Molly/ Now the whole party is melting like Dalí” — is a pretty decent evocation of how everything does seem to get somewhat soft and viscous when you’re on a sufficient amount of MDMA (even if the images the second line conjures sound more like something you’d see on acid than anything else).
Suede — “The Asphalt World”
Curiously, despite name-checking ecstasy, it’s not really this song’s lyrics that evoke the MDMA experience — they’re generally too busy with oblique references to Justine Frischmann and Damon Albarn to have any space to devote to describing what taking a drug feels like. But the music! Along with The Chemical Brothers’ Surrender album, this is probably the most effective of what a night on the pills feels like from start to finish, all encapsulated in one epic guitar solo.