There exists a rich musical history of recorded songs about cocaine use dating at least as far back as Victoria Spivey and Lonnie Johnson’s 1927 “Dopehead Blues,” or Dick Justice’s 1928 “Cocaine.” On one end of the spectrum are commendably classic tunes about nose-candy such as Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues,” J.J. Cale’s (later made shitty by Eric Clapton) “Cocaine,” and Laid Back’s quirky “White Horse,” which advises the listener to ride the “white pony” (coke), rather than the “white horse” (heroin), and of course on the other end of the spectrum are absolutely dreadful blow anthems that will totally ruin your night at the club like Buck Cherry’s “Lit Up.”
Perhaps the greatest (or at least weirdest) joy-powder paean comes to us via Jamaican artist, Dillinger. 1976’s “Cokane in My Brain” from his CB 200 album is a funky slice of reggae/proto-rap, clearly recorded under the influence of—I don’t know—let’s say a kilo of the white stuff. The song’s “riddim” is based on the Gamble and Huff-produced Philly soul classic “Do It Any Way You Wanna” by People’s Choice. The refrain “I got cocaine runnin ‘round in my brain” comes from Reverend Gary Davis’ “Cocaine Blues” but the (apparently) nonsensical riddle about the correct way to spell New York:
“A knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork, that’s the way we spell New York, Jim!”
... comes from an actual Disney record!
Do go to the seven-minute mark and hit play. You will laugh:
“No matter where I treat my guests, you see they always like my kitchen best. Cause I’ve cocaine running around my brain.”
Incredibly, the song went to number one on the Dutch charts.
Here we have a video from the Dutch music program TOPPOP, broadcast in the Summer of 1977. TopPop was the first dedicated Dutch pop music TV show, broadcast weekly from 1970 to 1988. Hit songs were generally mimed by artists appearing on the show, but often times tracks were played to a dance routine by choreographer Penney de Jager and her troupe, as is the case with this particular clip.
TOPPOP choreographer, Penney de Jager
The feel of a ‘70s New York club is recreated here through a Dutch lens. The dancing seems a bit awkward, not through any fault of the talented dancers, but because the song itself is rather awkward in its coke-damaged delivery. Still, trust us, it’s an earworm you’re not likely to shake anytime soon.
A knife, a fork, a bottle, and a cork… That’s the way we spell New York