This song always gives me pause and causes me to reflect.
I've seen the needleOf course, when Neil Young wrote and first performed Needle and the Damage Done the drug culture hadn't really been exposed to meth (or crank) or for that matter cocaine. Those iconic drugs would come later. He was writing about heroin, injected by needle, and mourning the loss of fellow musicians. The first part of the song sets the tone - how he'd seen the damage done, hit the city and how his fellow musicians kept dying, even after some success. Milk blood to keep from running out - the lengths junkies go to make sure they can get high again.
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie's
like a settin' sun.
But the last stanza - wow. A little part of it in everyone. Isn't that so true? Most of us have some sort of addictive or compulsive behavior, whether it's cigarettes, booze, gambling, or some other vice. I've sure had my share of vices and the last one - eating - I just cannot seem to control. Granted, it's not heroin addiction by any means, but it's a little part of it in me, and I do understand. After all my surgeries and procedures involving opioids for pain control I can tell you it's probably a damn good thing I never got into the *ahem* recreational use of said drugs. I know I've got addictive tendencies, and while the truckers' drug has it's charms (I'm being sarcastic here), and blow for your nose was almost a social requirement at one point - they can't hold a candle to the derivatives of the poppy.
But every junkie's like a settin' sun. That phrase right there is the coup de grace on several levels. Everybody has their own light - talents, skills, personalities - an individual beacon that drug addiction dims and eventually puts out. And they go out brightly as well - burning themselves out, fighting society with their denial and hiding their pain, refusing help. In a flaming nosedive, they extinguish themselves.
I've made my past no secret. I and several friends have managed to avoid that fiery crash. One of them and I have discussed this at length, and we feel like we made it through the fire. Plus, on the other side, we found each other and discovered why we were friends in the first place. Our relationship is the stronger for it. We are both in pain for those still on the other side of that fire - maybe they just toke up a little, or they're still methheads, or whatever. The divide exists because they are trapped in their delusions, and consider us some sort of traitor or similar. They are the ones who are living their lives the way they want, and are free because of it. We, on the other hand, are sellouts to the man, or something. Whatever it takes to continue consuming that drug without admitting to the logical disconnect that they aren't free, they are in thrall to the drug and all that goes with it - the societal dismissals by the so called upper crust plus the acceptance by the dregs - those who use and deal, the continual lack of money the associated problems with obtaining more to get their fix - theft or prostitution, their poor health and so much more.
There aren't as many of the heads left anymore. They keep dying off far faster than my clean and normal compadres.
And every time I hear Neil sing this song, all of these thoughts rush through my head. I remember.