Drinking Songs

Actually, if you drink enough they’re ALL drinking songs

Solid drinking is an absorbing activity. If you’re really dedicated — if you’re headfirst in some sadness or a family event that won’t end — you don’t need to waste too much time with games or conversations or what have you. But if you need some company, a drinking song helps, whether it’s to share with a friend or sing drunkenly on your own.

Drinking songs, in all their ethnic and cultural variants, are an accompaniment to boozing, something to do other than talking. Because sometimes conversation is boring or repetitive or potentially offensive or dangerous, or just unnecessary. Drinking songs can also do some of the heavy lifting otherwise left to talking, bringing people together and all that. So, we have the tradition of drinking songs — a rich history of folk and country songs about getting into your cups.

The good thing about drink and songs, though: if you drink enough, they’re all drinking songs. When everyone knows the words and you’re all drunk enough, it’s beautiful. Karaoke makes it even easier. I bet if I called the people at Young Karaoke –– the poor, long-suffering people at Young Karaoke who’ve had to clean up my mess whenever I’ve been there –– they’d say just about anything could be a drinking song.

We (well, me) asked a bunch of our music writers to talk about a favourite drinking song. I did this late Friday night for a Sunday deadline. Everyone came through on time so either they weren’t drinking much, they recover alarmingly quickly or they’re used to writing while buzzed. This being Prairie Dog I’m guessing the latter.

By the by, all I’ve had to drink today is a little bit of wine while cooking a risotto earlier and touch of bourbon right now. /James Brotheridge

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Against Me!

“Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”

Self-Titled EP (2001)

The urgency and passion of “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” from Florida anarcho-punks Against Me! is as palpable and strong as the foam head of the beer with the same name. Bonus scene points if you got to sing along live to this one when the group visited Saskatoon before they were famous. /Chris Morin

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Art Brut

“Alcoholics Unanimous”

Art Brut Vs. Satan (2009)

Eddie Argos, of U.K. rockers Art Brut, sings about the Replacements, D.C. comics and trousers over jeans. The most encompassing interest expressed in his music, however, is getting drunk. So deep is the love of this act that “Alcoholic Unanimous”, the story of a morning after where he asks friends to bring him tea and coffee, still comes out as a boozing anthem. /James Brotheridge

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Bran Van 3000

“Drinking in L.A.”

Glee (1997)

Warning: There’s going to be a point in your life where you’re all blotto and singing along to the “What the hell am I doing drinking in L.A. at 26” part, and it’ll dawn on you: you’re over 26. Your skin gets dusty, your bones become all moldy and HOLY SHIT WHAT HAVE DONE I WITH MY LIFE? Thank God there’s the “Hell-A-L.A., Hell Hell-A-L.A.” bit to shake you out of it, invite you to take another swig of that Canada Cooler 2L you’re holding and KAPOW! everything’s okay again. /Dan MacRae

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Guided by Voices

“Game of Pricks”

Alien Lanes (1995)

It’s the kind of song that’s best enjoyed as a sing-along, ideally by a pack of friends all emboldened on Old Milwaukee. Perhaps, then, it’s more of a drunk song than a “Goodnight, Irene”-style drinking song. But any song that can make you hijack the music laptop at a party so you can dig it up instantly because This Your Jam surely merits an entry here. /Mason Pitzel

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George Jones

“If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)”

I Am What I Am (1980)

We admire how artfully the Velvet Underground interwove themes of addiction and nihilism on songs like “Heroin” and “Sister Ray”. But George Jones did all that AND made it popular, with the bleakly baroque “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)”, which hit number eight on the country charts in 1981. /Emmet Matheson

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Ladyhawk

“S.T.H.D.”

Shots (2008)

Every DJ and jukebox and iPod sitting behind a bar should have “S.T.H.D.” by Ladyhawk ready to go at a moment’s notice. Nearly everything about it –– the brisk tempo, the full-throated and exhilarating chorus, the blood-pumping lyrics and That Guitar Solo –– makes me compulsively drink whatever I’m holding. /John Cameron

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Corb Lund

“Drink It Like You Mean It”

Cabin Fever (2012)

Hardened drinking — to get drunk out of pure cowboy sorrow as a shortcut to authenticity — is appealing. Maybe that’s why Canada’s number one Alberta country guy felt the need to make a song about drinking “like the serious people do.” “There ain’t going to be no trace of irony,” he sings, and it could feel a little directed at me sometimes. I’m a guy with a beard and thick frames and I’ve watched more than a few dozen movies because I knew they’d be bad. Fuck it. This song still makes me feel like drinking. /James Brotheridge

2013-07-11

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