My First Drug

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Sunni's picture

I remember discovering it when I was rather young -- some people might say shockingly young. I was probably five or six. The source? My parents. They provided it -- even kept it freely available, you might say. My brother picked it up from them, too. Last I knew, he was still hooked on the stuff -- as am I. I stumbled on to the drug, and its effects on me, quite by accident. Now that I voluntarily use it, and most often plan my use and structure my time around my use, its effects are quite different. They remain magical.

It's hard to describe its effects on me. At first, it was like LSD ... it took me away to other worlds -- liquid, pulsing, living worlds that flowed around me, surrounding me in sensory delight. Sometimes the trip was good; less often, the flow pulled me under, leaving me to claw my way out of its icy grip. As I used it more, I became better able to judge the likely direction I'd take, making it easier not to teeter on that precipice ... unless I wanted to. Yes, sometimes I wanted to do that. And sometimes I wanted to give over to its cold claws, feeling them grasp my heart and squeeze, plunging down and down ... and then, when I'd become scared that I'd be unable to emerge, I'd somehow haul myself out.

As I became a more active and experienced user, I found my own sources for the stuff; my parents' source became the comfortable, familiar variant, while my own were more volatile. Sometimes a dose would be so powerful that days could pass -- or weeks -- before I'd fully emerge from its spell. Undoubtedly, my brain has been changed by my use. What began as an accidental exploration has become a daily necessity; I drift into slumber and emerge from its embrace with echoes of my drug in my mind. If I'm unable to feed my need -- a very unusual situation, but it does happen -- my brain steps up, preventing withdrawal by synthesizing its internal equivalent. Or, memories take me by hand, leading me through past trips once again.

With experience came the desire to mix my beloved drug with others. Alcohol was a natural blend. Even though the resulting cocktails are often heady, they're generally a bit too uncontrollable for my taste. My favorite combination is with sex; whether a hot rush of jungle rhythm or the slow buildup from spark to flame, their synergy is glorious.

As can happen with those who fall under the spell of a drug, I'm not just a habitual user -- I'm a dealer. I've bought, sold, given away, traded, shared ... even made my own, for a time. I've lost much of the skill needed for that, though, and some of the equipment. Others feed my need too -- sometimes knowingly, sometimes not. Although fellow fiends can be trickier for the average person to spot than, say, a heroin junkie, we can read the tracks on others pretty well. I can finger three friends, for example, even though I've not physically met any of them.

Academics and marketers have discovered the power of my drug, and predictably put it to use for both good and evil. Half-awake individuals -- of which there are disturbingly too many -- succumb to it fairly readily at some level; we fiends are much more resistant to their subtle delivery schemes, in part because we recognize the attempted manipulation, and in part because we've mastered manipulating it ourselves. We can counter their attempted delivery with our own dose, either overtly or via flashback. Some individuals appear to be much more resistant -- a few seem impervious -- to its allure; I pity them for the empty lives they lead.

What is this drug, that I freely admit to using and loving, for years?

It's music.

Pat says:

Oh, my, Sunni, you have taken me down memory lane!
The first song I remember was when I was 3 + y/o, as I skipped down a dusty lane to my grandparents' farm, singing "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" (which dates me, doesn't it?). I've been in love with music ever since.
In fact I've been buying up old music lately, for fear it's not going to be around much longer (Glen Miller, Floyd Cramer, Julie London, etc.)
An article on Yahoo today asks,
"Is music something you own or something you rent?" (with reference to rivals putting iPod out of business) -- and my answer was definitely "OWN". I must have music around, I never listen to radio in the car, but take my own music with me wherever I go -- even just a short trip to the grocery store.
It is the only thing that soothes my heart when hurt, and calms my mind when politically troubled.
"Thanks for the memories."

charley says:

:) memories is right. before i decided to run my own recording studio, i was thinking of applying at an existing one, attaching a photo of me at 2 or 3 wearing a cavernous headset and taking our drug with a big smile. for me, it was christmas music. i would put it on and run all over the house. still do that.

music has helped me meet some exceptional people, including these guys, who are still at it after all these years (second pic was taken at my old studio about 15 years ago).

a smile inducing post, lass.

Sunni says:

:blush: Well, thanks to both of you, for sharing your wonderful memories! The first songs I remember hearing and liking include "Wild Thing", "I Am the Walrus", and "Get Off of My Cloud". :) I enjoy a lot of older music too, including Glenn Miller, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington ... time for me to go take a hit. :D

freeman says:

That was certainly a first-rate post!

Music is definitely the best drug I've ever encountered. While television may be the non-chemical drug of choice for many in this country, music, in my opinion, makes television seem downright lame. It's like comparing a fine wine to sniffing glue.

The variant of this drug that currently has me hooked in Bulgarian wedding music. I've rarely come across a type of music that has had the power to invigorate me and make me feel so alive! Who needs a chemical boost from a cup of coffee first thing in the morning when there is music by people like Ivo Papasov? Frank Zappa would agree, as he once quoted as saying "Ivo's album of wedding music played first thing in the morning, provides thorough and long lasting attitude adjustment for the busy executive."

I think I'll write about this at some point over the weekend. I've been meaning to write more about music.

Bob Wallace says:

To paraphrase the philosopher Suzanne Langer, each medium delivers its own drug: music, literature, art. Music is the most powerful, but I can remember the time from 11 to 14 when certain stories were just as powerful to me. These days, movies are a pretty good example.

Vaughn says:

Hi Sunni,

Music is one of the better drugs - the only price I've ever
paid for my indulgence was a temporary hearing loss after
standing too close to the speakers during a Johnny Winters

Dick Dale's pretty good for getting the blood moving in the

The main reason I've commented though, was to recommend
a group called the Gipsy Kings. Ever heard of them?
They're very popular around the world, but not so well
known in the US. The music is based on flamenco stylings,
but it's more robust. The lyrics are typically in French,
Spanish, and gypsy dialect. If you enjoy serious guitar
work, you might like them. Too, because of their gypsy
roots - the material tends to lean towards themes of
liberty and freedom.

This website is a good starting point to find out more
about them -


Sunni says:

Thanks for the recommendations, Vaughn! Listening to the Gipsy Kings now on the Squeezebox that pumps my drug through the kitchen. Wonderful stuff! I also see that we have Dick Dale and the Del-Tones; the latter I remember from the movie Jackie Brown.

Now let me return the favor, with some of my recent faves and older standbys: Morphine; Mighty Mighty Bosstones; good Spanish classical guitar (12-string); T Bone Burnett; Blackmore's Night; Squirrel Nut Zippers; and Captain Tractor. Sorry I don't have any links ... may have to add a separate music section to my linky goodness.

Vaughn says:

Thanks Sunni,

I've heard of a few of the groups
you mention. I Googled the ones I hadn't
heard of and they did sound interesting -
I'll have to check them out.

It would be nice to be able to explore more
fully the possibilities now available
between pc's and music - but my dial-up
connection delivers about what one would
expect from a rural provider with about 200
subscribers! I don't even bother trying
to access video clips, and music isn't much


Sunni says:

Vaughn, I'd be happy to create a sampler CD of the artists you're interested in, plus Tom Paine's Bones since you weren't able to download it. We can talk details in private if you're interested ...

Classical was my gateway drug

Thanks for linking this post from boondocks; I missed seeing it the first time around.

Some of my earliest musical memories are with my Dad, laying on the living room floor between the speakers at the age of maybe 2, listening to the William Tell Overture and Peter and the Wolf.

An oldie

... I missed seeing it the first time around.

Well, it is an oldie, too. Thanks for sharing your memories! I recall hearing some classical music, but not much, and mostly when I was a little older. That said, my parents’ albums spanned a lot of music, from very offbeat comedy (one example that I remember vividly is a song about exsanguination) to country to pop to classical. When I started getting into rock, my mom did too, although I don’t think my brother and I were ever successful in getting her to like Rush. She liked Led Zep, though.

Good memories, indeed.

I grew up with both classical and "Big Band" music, the love of which I shared with my mother. I like good jazz and some "bluegrass," though in small amounts. I never cared for "rock and roll" or any of the teen heart throb vocalists, though my sister did. We had many furious fights over it, you can be sure. She literally wore out her single play record of "Teen Angel." YUK

In jr. high school I began training in music, having sung in all sorts of choirs from a young age, and discovered that my "instrument" was my voice. Being admitted to the University of Redlands voice class as a high schooler is probably the proudest moment of my young life.

And so I sang - a lot. I was never good enough to become professional, and that's plenty OK because I was destined and determined to be a nurse, but it was a wonderful and fulfilling thing to do whether to please a large crowd, lead a church full of people to worship in song, or just amuse myself.

And then, in 1994, I fell ill with the malady that almost took my life. I couldn't sing anymore - and mostly just was glad to be able to breathe.

Fast forward to the present, after almost three years of healing and renewed strength. I'm more grateful than I can say and I'm happy with what life has given me. But I can no longer sing at all - the voice seems to have been cut out of me as completely as an amputation. I don't know why.

I still enjoy listening to music. I'd love to be able to sing again. Somehow, I just never get up the courage and will to try. Got to work on that. At least I could amuse myself. :)