The Verve „The Drugs Don’t Work”

The Drugs Don’t Work” is a song by the British rock band, The Verve and is featured on their third album, Urban Hymns. It was released on September 1, 1997 as the second single from the album, charting at number 1 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming the band’s most successful single in the UK.

Lead singer Richard Ashcroft wrote the song in early 1995. He briefly mentioned it in an interview at the time, relating it to his drug usage: „There’s a new track I’ve just written […] It goes ‘the drugs don’t work, they just make me worse, and I know I’ll see your face again’. That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. They make me worse, man. But I still take ‘em. Out of boredom and frustration you turn to something else to escape.”[1]

Ashcroft also performed the song when the band was touring in support of A Northern Soul.[2][3] The song was eventually recorded for Urban Hymns. The album’s producer, Chris Potter later referred to it as both the best song and best vocal he had ever recorded.

The exact meaning of the song is unclear, but it is generally believed that composer Richard Ashcroft wrote the song in response to the death of his father [5], and is also thought to be influenced by his relationship with his wife. Ashcroft said in an interview, „to me, it’s a lovesong”.[citation needed]

The lyrics of the original demo varied from the eventual album track, with the main line changing from „They just make me worse” to „They just make you worse”[citation needed], as Ashcroft attempted to lyrically put across different points of view in the song; „They make you/me worse” refer to the medication his father was taking (which prolonged his life, but inflicted suffering at the same time).

It could also be interpreted as a symbolism of Richard’s battle with depression. He says that the mood stability he gets from the pills he takes feels „very synthetic”. The single was also noted during Channel 4‘s 100 Greatest #1 Singles program as unintentionally capturing the spirit of the nation as it was released the day after Princess Diana died.

The music video of the song was directed by Andy Baybutt. The video begins with several references to The Verve’s earlier work. The band appears in the same formation and clothes as they did at the end of the video for „Bitter Sweet Symphony„. The cover of the machine on the front of the album No Come Down also appears briefly. The band turns around a corner and walks over to a vending machine called „Feelings.” This refers to the song „Life’s an Ocean” from their second album, A Northern Soul, where Ashcroft sings, „I was buying some feelings from a vending machine” (the same vending machine is also seen on the back of that album). The rest of the video shows, partially in black and white, the band playing the song indoors. The video ends with a piece of burning wood, with the words ‘Urban Hymns’ written on, floating on water. The original concept for the video was to have the band filmed in a maze to illustrate „loss of direction”

The Verve – THE DRUGS DON’T WORK lyrics

All this talk of getting old
It’s getting me down my love
Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown
This time I’m comin’ down

And I hope you’re thinking of me
As you lay down on your side
Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again

Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again

But I know I’m on a losing streak
‘Cause I passed down my old street
And if you wanna show, then just let me know
And I’ll sing in your ear again

Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again

‘Cause baby, ooh, if heaven calls, I’m coming, too
Just like you said, you leave my life, I’m better off dead

All this talk of getting old
It’s getting me down my love
Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown
This time I’m comin’ down

Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again

‘Cause baby, ooh, if heaven calls, I’m coming, too
Just like you said, you leave my life, I’m better off dead

But if you wanna show, just let me know
And I’ll sing in your ear again

Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again

Yeah, I know I’ll see your face again
Yeah, I know I’ll see your face again
Yeah, I know I’ll see your face again
Yeah, I know I’ll see your face again

I’m never going down, I’m never coming down
No more, no more, no more, no more, no more
I’m never coming down, I’m never going down
No more, no more, no more, no more, no more
(Repeat and Fade Out)

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