She Talks To Angels (1990)

The Black Crowes

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Frontman (and smack-happy Jesus look-alike) Chris Robinson has been refreshingly blunt over the years about his star-crossed relationship with drugs – and the Crowes’ haunting, soul-stirrer “She Talks To Angels” is a heartfelt case in point from the band’s debut album. It’s a crisp, solemn acoustic take on a seedy but poignant story of unrequited love in which a female junkie needs heroin more than she needs a man or lover.

The heroin-as-angels metaphor runs deep in its contradiction, pairing the destruction of drugs and addiction with heavenly salvation and protection. What’s a girl to do when the heroin-angels (we’ve heard on high) “call her out by her name”? She’s just got to go. As Robinson (or his protagonist) grows more desperate for her love, the song’s intensity releases into a drum-thumping, cymbal-splashing frenzy of frustration and despair. Beautifully done, but it hurts. Robinson wails:

She don’t know no lover
None that I ever seen
And to her that ain’t nothing
But to me it means, means everything!

You can feel his pain. She feels pain too but it’s of a very different sort. “Yeah she gives a smile when the pain comes. The pain gonna make everything alright.” Her pain, of course, is the needle piercing her skin and shooting heroin into her hungry vein. So, in the moment, she’s exactly right – the pain and the drug will make everything all right. That is, until it’s all gone.

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