Richard Jankovich is a busy, busy dude. In addition to performing with Big Mother Gig, Richard also founded the music promotion company Shoplifter, and also co-manages the great, great Superkick (with me). Richard got sober three years ago and wrote his band’s upcoming third LP Gusto (which comes out on April 30) about it. Here is the second single, “The Doctor Will See You Now”, which just came out on March 17.
In his own words, “it’s a recovery album,” and the rest of this piece comes verbatim from his formerly whiskey-soaked mouth:
The Replacements – “Here Comes A Regular”
This song is about being a midwestern barfly, which sadly is a way of life for many. It’s quite an accurate description of alcoholic life. I wanted to start here because it sounds like the starting point to eventual sobriety. The song itself is a really dark take on the “Cheers” theme, and it showcases how sad that life is.
Uncle Tupelo – “Before I Break”
I picked this song because you can literally hear vocalist Jay Farrar begin to realize that he has a drinking problem within the lyrics to this song. This particular lyric resonated, “You’re still thinking that you can’t go on like this”. Being continuously under the influence prevents reality from taking place.
U2 – “Running To Stand Still”
“You know I took the poison, from the poison stream then I floated out of here.“ What a powerful vivid lyric. I believe that the song is about a young woman struggling with addiction and how she’s using some sort of substance to escape, but in the end she finishes in the same place.
Phoebe Bridgers – “Kyoto”
For me, this song is very personal. It’s easily the newest song here and it is written from the perspective of being an alcoholic’s daughter. Phoebe very poignantly addresses her father trying to get sober and the complicated feelings that she receives that news with. As a dad myself, it is hard to not compare this to my own daughter.
Warren Zevon – “Detox Mansion”
Zevon was a notorious alcoholic who had been in and out of recovery programs. This song is one that directly addresses that experience and this simple yet effective lyric knocks me on my back, “It’s tough to be somebody.” It sure is.
Lincoln – “Straight”
Lincoln was an act from the mid-90s that you may not be familiar with, which was built around vocalist Chris Temple. I’ve been trying to keep tabs on him since this project, but I haven’t found anything worthy of mentioning. This song sort of illustrates the first day you decide to be sober in painful and starkly mundane terms. This specific lyric helps as well, “I have to pass the liquor store and walk right by my dealers’ door.”
Jason Isbell – “It Gets Easier”
It would be remiss to create a list of songs about recovery and not include Jason Isbell, who very publicly became sober a few years ago. He references the effects his alcoholism has on his family and in particular how it feels to see his own “daughter’s eyes when she’s ashamed.” However, the song rings a hopeful note in knowing that it does, in fact, get easier.
Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”
I should’ve known that there was a reason that this song hit me so hard when I first heard it over a decade ago. This song is a liberation of someone putting down the bottle and “washing it away down the kitchen sink”. As far as recovery songs go, this is the most joyous and hopeful that you can feel while getting sober.
Lucero – “The Man I Was”
Lucero wrote a somber reflection on why one maintains sobriety. Vocalist Ben Nichols comes to terms to why he was the man that he once was pre-recovery, and accepts that his sobriety will affect his friendships moving forward. Ben is no longer the person that he once was and hopes to live a better, more enriching life sans substances.
Frank Turner – “Recovery”
It is indeed “a long road up to recovery”. What else could be said?
Here is a playlist containing every song from this list. Enjoy and be safe. There is no shame in admitting that you have a problem.