As today marks 20 years since the release of Urban Hymns by UK rock band The Verve, we’re celebrating with Track Of The Day. Namely; “The Drugs Don’t Work”, one of the beloved 14 tracks of the 1997 grammy nominated, multiple-platinum certified album.
Frontman Richard Ashcroft was quoted at the time as saying he wrote “The Drugs Don’t Work” about his experiences at the time with drug addiction, saying “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.” However it was also noted elsewhere that the track related to the passing of his father when he was a child, with the cancer drugs literally not working.
Regardless of the inspiration behind the track, “The Drugs Don’t Work” pokes at so much emotionally, due to the beautiful and haunting combination of swelling orchestral sound and Ashcroft’s honest vocals. Its confessional flavour and touching on loss is enough to inspire a heaviness that can be understood and embraced by each of us and our life experiences.
“Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown, this time I’m coming down”
The track was released a day after Princess Diana died. With the lyrics referring to death, and the hopeful “I know I’ll see your face again” lyric, “The Drugs Don’t Work” captured the mood of the somber world at the time. To me it always felt like love prevailing over everything, even in the worst of times.
Soak up the track via its music video or Spotify. The Ben Harper version of the same track is also a must listen as he offers his own touching vocal qualities to the sentiment being shared: https://open.spotify.com/track/1uDfA8q8avcbSzjNyB0cq7