You started out droppin' pills
Hangin' out on the street
Pass that needle on down the line
Livin' from door to door
W/68 - Charles River Park
I never got into hard drugs during the '60s (psychedelics were my thing) but I saw the deleterious effects of uppers and downers on others, especially a few younger people in my neighborhood. Speed in its various forms was particularly nasty, so I wrote Speedybop Rag as a sort of "public service announcement" and announced it as such at our gigs.
While most of the images in the song are general observations on the scene and no particular individuals were envisioned, the Beacon Hill and hypodermic references did come from one particular incident. I had some musician friends who lived on the Hill and one day I went to visit but they weren't home. Someone else was there, though, and he let me in so I could write them a note. Lying in plain view on the coffee table was a syringe. Not a particularly dramatic incident, I know, but in those early days of growing counterculutral awareness these particular friends were symbolic for me of good, enlightened folk. It was a shock to see evidence to the contrary. I am happy to report that my friends turned out OK — she has had a long career teaching music to children and he has a respectable job in real estate management. (I don't know what happened to that other guy.)
After writing Speedybop Rag I got a closer view of some addicts on both end of the spectrum. I watched my friend Bill, who had been in excellent physical condition and of cheery disposition, get hooked on cocaine, lose a considerable amount of muscle and descend into a bleak emotional state. Then a couple of years later I got acquainted with a small circle of junkies who I discovered were burglarizing my neighborhood. They were, under most circumstances, really sweet people but under the influence they did some really destructive things. For me the important learning experience in this was that drug users are not necessarily bad people but they certainly do bad things. Jail only makes it worse. I say "legalize it" and put the law enforcement money into treatment programs.