J.J. Cale ‎– Cocaine

Shelter Records ‎– 11 662 AT
Vinyl, 7", 45 RPM, Single


A Cocaine 2:51
B Hey Baby 3:16

Companies, etc.



℗ 1976 Shelter Recording Co., Inc.
Audigram Music (BMI)
Ariola - Eurodisc GmbH., München

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Rights Society: GEMA
  • Label Code: LC 1766
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout A): 11662 A-1/77S
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout B): 11662 B-1/77S

Other Versions (5 of 10) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
SR-62002 J.J. Cale Hey Baby(7", Single) Shelter Records SR-62002 US 1976 Sell This Version
11 662 AT J.J. Cale Cocaine(7", Single) Shelter Records 11 662 AT Switzerland 1977 Sell This Version
K-6629 J.J. Cale Hey Baby(7") Shelter Records K-6629 Australia 1976 Sell This Version
R-62002 J.J. Cale Cocaine(7", Single) Shelter Records R-62002 US 1976 Sell This Version
K-6629 J.J. Cale Cocaine(7", Single, RE) Shelter Records K-6629 Australia 1976 Sell This Version



Add Review



September 14, 2017
edited about 1 year ago

As originally envisioned by J.J. Cale, the song “Cocaine,” made famous by the Eric Clapton cover, was to be a jazz based number, though Cale was encouraged by his producer Audie Ashworth to turn it into a rocker. With that in mind, Cale was just unable to stray far from his Oklahoma blues roots, keeping the song simple, unlike the complex chords Clapton washed the song with.

Cale did not see this as an anti-drug or anti-cocaine song in the manner that Clapton did, who said, "It’s no good to write a deliberate anti-drug song and hope that it will catch. Because the general thing is that people will be upset by that. It would disturb them to have someone else shoving something down their throat. So the best thing to do is offer something that seems ambiguous, that on study or on reflection actually can be seen to be “anti" which the song 'Cocaine' is actually an anti-cocaine song. If you study it or look at it with a little bit of thought ... from a distance ... or as it goes by ... it just sounds like a song about cocaine. But actually, it is quite cleverly anti-cocaine."

Cale had something more ambiguous in mind as he brilliantly traces the aspects of getting high on cocaine in this number. The initial lyrics [and most people only know a smattering of words along with the chorus] glamorize the use of the drug, especially in referencing cocaine to that of a woman. There is not a single aspect of the song that resembles anything Eric Clapton maintains, the song is essentially about cocaine and what it does or doesn’t do. The song expresses the notion that if things are great in life, cocaine only makes it better, and if you’re feeling down, cocaine will pick you up, yet as the song does say, “She don’t lie, She don’t lie, cocaine” … which essentially means that cocaine is a short term good time slap on the back that doesn’t promise to last long or change anything, it just is what it is at that moment in time.

Anyone who’s partaken in the substance certainly knows that the first hit is the best, and for as long as the package lasts, you’ll be chasing that first hit for the rest of the night.

Regardless of all of this, the song is stunning in it’s simplicity, it’s ability to move on a jazz, rock or blues level, with lyrics and instrumentation that manage to draw the listener in with an outlaw vibe of righteous indignation, smacking the faces of straight-laced Americans who could not, or would not, open their minds to expansion. Cale’s version of “Cocaine” is just like the white powder itself, it doesn’t promise anything, there are no hidden agendas, it’s just a steady rolling riff that gets under your skin and ignites a mile wide smile … and like cocaine, will have you chasing another listen.

*** The Fun Facts: This wasn’t the first of J.J. Cale’s songs that Eric Clapton covered, bending a fine rendition of “After Midnight.”

Clapton was attempting to kick his heroin habit by using cocaine, but he was just substituting one substance for another, both equally dangerous, so yes, Clapton was viewing the song from an addict’s point of view, failing to realize, or unable to do so, that drugs can be a great deal of fun and a source of inspiration, with the caveat being that while the circus is a fun place to visit, one doesn’t need to live there.

Review by Jenell Kesler