They’ve been closed since Christmas Day 2020. But on 12 April, pubs across Britain will open their doors once again. As the nation prepares to fall back in love with licensed premises, here are five rousing musical tributes to alcohol to get you in the mood.
1. “Quiet Whiskey” by Wynonie Harris (1953)
Like all the best songs, this shouty example of ‘jump blues’ opens with a spoken intro: “Whiskey whiskey on the shelf / You were so quiet there by yourself / Things were fine till they took you down / And opened you up and passed you round.” An excellent sketch of booze-fuelled disorder – something UK pubs will hope to avoid next week.
2. “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” by Giuseppe Verdi (1853)
Even if you don’t consider yourself an opera nut, chances are you’ll recognise this famous celebration of drinking from Verdi’s La Traviata. At one point, the heroine Violetta sings: “Everything is foolish in the world which is not pleasure” – which seems a pretty good motto to live by as Covid-19 restrictions ease.
3. “Sweet Blindness” by Laura Nyro (1968)
A rare example of a song about underage drinking – by a singer-songwriter whose music was always more successful when being covered by other artists. Probably the most upbeat song ever written about a hangover.
4. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by John Lee Hooker (1966)
Already a blues standard before he came to record his own version, this John Lee Hooker classic is about looking to alcohol to ease the pain of romantic rejection. But contrary to what the more moralistic Hollywood films would have you believe, the impression here is that drowning your sorrows actually works: “I sat there, gettin stoned, mellow / Feelin so good, so good.”
5. “Drunk in Love” by Beyoncé (2013)
This Beyoncé classic is really more about sex than drinking, but there is a reference to champagne – a drink we know she takes seriously. At the 2020 Golden Globes, Beyoncé and Jay-Z brought their own champagne to the event, ignoring the free drinks provided.
Here is a visual comparison of how alcoholic each song really is: