10 great Americana drinking songs

What do you do when you can’t go the pub? Well lockdown has revealed that the answer is… drink more alcohol. So, to accompany your solo swilling, we’ve put together a fine blend of 10 of the most intoxicating Americana drinking songs for the bank holiday weekend. Of course we can only offer a small selection of what is quite an extensive menu, so please do add your own favourite aural tipples in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys ‘Bubbles in My Beer’
Songs about drink are as old as drinking itself. So the first selection comes from the early years of Americana and certainly well before anyone actually called it that. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys were the pioneers of Western Swing. This song comes from 1947 and features the wonderful Tommy Duncan on vocals.

George Jones ‘White Lightning’
Moving on to 1959 and we find a young George Jones, in rockabilly mode, extolling the virtues of homemade liquor. The song was written by the Big Bopper and recorded by Jones only a week after the death of his friend in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly. Legend has it that notorious drinker Jones was so drunk in the studio that the song required 80 takes.

Todd Snider ‘Beer Run’
A big live favourite at Snider’s gigs. The song was written about a group of fans who, whilst attending a Robert Earl Keen gig, decide to make a beer run and then get back in time to catch the show. Keen is mentioned in the song and evidently loved it.

Texas Tornados ‘In Heaven there is no Beer’
Recorded by numerous artists over the years, this version comes from the last Texas Tornados album to feature the late, great, Doug Sahm and was released after his death. Heaven sounds like hell to me!

Doug Paisley ‘Drinkin’ with a Friend’
A more reflective tone is set on this beautiful song from the Canadian songwriter’s ‘Starter Home’ album. Paisley’s understated approach and thoughtful lyrics have led to comparisons with Gordon Lightfoot and John Prine. High praise indeed.

The Jayhawks ‘The Liquor Store Came First’
From the 1986 Bunkhouse album, this song had hardly been heard until the long-lost debut was re-issued by Lost Highway in 2010. It may not have the polish of some of their later work, but this song from their formative years catches a band distilling their distinctive sound.

Eggs Over Easy ‘I’m Gonna Put a Bar in the Back of My Car (& Drive Myself to Drink)’
The pioneering pub-rockers were the subject of an excellent ‘Forgotten Artists’ feature on this site recently. If you didn’t catch it, then shame on you, go and search it out immediately (or at least when you’ve finished imbibing this article). This great track is worthy of inclusion here for the title alone!

The Replacements ‘Here Comes a Regular’
I couldn’t do this feature without mentioning that alcohol can be no fun at all. Paul Westerberg’s brilliant song reflects on a wasted life sat on a bar stool. From the 1985 album ‘Tim’.

Christy Moore ‘Delirium Tremens’
OK I might be bending the definition of Americana a bit here, but with some justification. From the Irish folk legend’s superb ‘Ordinary Man’ album comes this brilliantly hilarious take on having too much. My joint favourite drinking song ever, along with my final selection.

Lonesome Bob ‘I Get Smarter Every Drink’
Lonesome Bob is not a big name and could possibly be another contender for AUK’s ‘Forgotten Artists’ feature. However, if you are not already familiar with him I’ll guarantee you won’t forget him in a hurry after watching this great performance.

That’s the final round folks. Closing time is upon us and so it’s time to head off home to sleep it all off. Let’s finish with a favourite drinking quote from Ernest Hemingway “I drink to make other people more interesting” Touché

About Clint West 318 Articles
From buying my first record aged 10 and attending my first gig at 14, music has been a lifelong obsession. A proud native of Suffolk, I have lived in and around Manchester for the best part of 30 years. My idea of a perfect day would be a new record arriving in the post in the morning, watching Ipswich Town win in the afternoon followed by a gig and a pint with my mates at night,
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David Jarman

If you’ll forgive me for adding other substances as well as alcohol–Ashley Monroe’s classic (perhaps from the Americana/country interface) ‘Weed instead of roses’ name checks whiskey and wine, as well as the aforementioned–another song to bring a smile to the face, as the first verse and chorus below demonstrate–

“Baby we’ve been together for a long, long time
You get home from work and then we just turn out the lights
Lately I’ve been dreaming you in leather, me in lace
Let’s put up the teddy bears, and pull out the whip and chains

Give me weed instead of roses
Bring me whiskey instead of wine
Every puff, every shot, you’re looking better all the time
I don’t need a card from Hallmark
Box of candy heavens no
Give me weed instead of roses
Let’s see where it goes”

Stephen Goldsmith

Whiskey, Tequila and Beer., Oh my by Dale Watson and The Lord loves a Drinking Man sung by Kevin Fowler are great songs about the subject, funny and clever. In other words classic country. There’s an entire cd of Texas music about drinking I bought in Waterloo records. Great stuff.

Martin Johnson

A great list to lift everyone’s spirits in these surreal times. Don’t forget Guy Clark’s Hemingway’s Whiskey https://youtu.be/VU2J_wMriVE

Malcolm George

Hey! What about John Prine’s ‘They Oughta Name A Drink After You’ ? – it’s a classic!

‘I get drunk most every night
Seems like all I do is fight
The more I drink
The less I feel blue’

Martin Johnson

This is a great list particularly given the surreal times we are living in. If I were to add another it would be Guy Clark’s Hemingway’s Whiskey. https://youtu.be/VU2J_wMriVE

[…] so it’s fair to say it’s a genre well versed with the art of inebriation which our recent feature looked at […]

Jonathan Aird

‘When I Quit Drinking’ by JP Harris is rather good : https://americana-uk.com/jp-harris-when-i-quit-drinking-listen