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These Sober Songs Will Fuel Your Sobriety

Sober Songs

These Sober Songs Will Fuel Your Sobriety

NPR ace Neda Ulaby tracked down longtime music critic Sasha Frere-Jones and had him address the art of sober songs, including a whole shelf full of sober songs called “Sober”.

After admitting his go-to sober song singer was Ellliot Smith, citing“Between the Bars”,”I don’t think anyone has ever written about drinking better than Elliott.” Frere-Jones comes up with Minor Threat’s “Straight Edge,” a nugget only a music journalist would readily cite.

It’s Charlie Wilson’s “I’m Blessed” though which really tells us a bit about Frere-Jones. The writer says he first heard the song in a hospital’s psychiatric ward. As you might suspect, “a lot of people in that room were in extremely bad shape,” including, one surmises, Frere-Jones himself, who considered the former Gap Band singer’s sober song a bit to cheerful for his liking. Then however, he found it in his heart to flip the script.

“But then I fell in love with the song,” said Frere-Jones. “I had to get over myself and absorb it as a song. I know Charlie’s story and I think it is a sobriety song.”

Indeed, “I’m Blessed” is a sobriety song. It’s also quite beautiful. Then again, simply praying for God to simply grant you another day can always be beautiful, when it’s sung right.

And Charlie Wilson sings “I’m Blessed” just right.

It’s even more right-on when you consider Wilson’s journey. After unleashing a string of hits in the ‘70s and ‘80s with The Gap Band, Wilson became addicted to alcohol, cocaine and crack.

“He ended up very unhoused,” Frere-Jones says. “He ended up in really, really dire, dire straits, like no-joke stuff. From what I gather, he suffered greatly when he was using.”

But the singer met a drug counselor he ended up marrying. He has remained sober for decades. “And he’s just so happy. [‘I’m Blessed’] definitely makes being sober sound pretty great,” Frere-Jones says.

Sober Songs

When it comes to sober songs, nothing quite takes the cake like those entitled “Sober.” Then again, when you’ve got everyone from Demi Lovato to Pink in on the scheme, cake will definitely be served.

In these cases, we get to eat it too. The writers cite Pink’s wide-eyed wonder at sobriety, trying to figure out why she can feel good without drugs and alcohol.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who has gotten sober who doesn’t understand every single word of this song,” Frere-Jones notes. “Also, I just love Pink and I think it’s catchy.”

Then again, he adds “I’m inclined to believe anything Pink says.”

Frere-Jones also notes that only women have summoned the moxie to release a song as simple as “Sober.” He seems to believe there’s a very simple reason for this.

“I feel like women are just, in general, stronger and more honest,” he says. “I’m not surprised that the women are more like, ‘Yeah, I got sober, here’s my song,’ and the guys have to be like, ‘What’s a clever way of saying this?’ ”

Spot on! Absolutely spot on! And all the more kudos to Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Lorde and Pink for coming through with such honesty.

(Note” Tool also have a “Sober” song, albeit one with a very grey area meaning.)

More Sober Songs

There are more sober songs, of course, from Aerosmith’s “Amazing” to Kenny Chesney’s “That’s Why I’m Here,” which is the closest thing to attending an AA meeting as you can get through headphones. Chesney’s track also shows that women don’t have a full monopoly on honesty.

Speaking of honesty, Frere-Jones says if there is one sober song he especially wishes he could hear, it would be the one Elliott Smith did not live long enough to write, about how good it feels to be sober and alive. We’re sure there’s a whole lot of folks who would have loved to hear that track.

If you or someone you love is having substance abuse issues, please get in touch with Healing Properties. We’ve been helping men find sobriety since 2002; we’d be honored to help you too.

Image courtesy Michael Graubart

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