Speedybop Rag  

You started out droppin' pills
A bennie or two gonna cure all your ills
Spent your allowance and broke your piggy bank too.
Got a stash inside your shoe
Hitch a ride to Beacon Hill
Go on down where the action is
Sniff some coke and shoot some crystal, uh uh uh
Chugalug some Romilar, uh uh uh

Hangin' out on the street
Beggin' your bread from the people you meet
Watchin' the world with a wide-eyed vacant stare
Aw, but your don't care
'Cause your just copped your daily spoon
And you can't wait to fly away
Shot a little too much baby, uh uh uh
Talkin' fast and actin' crazy, uh uh uh

Pass that needle on down the line
Shove it up your mainline
Get that flash and it sure is fine
Burns up your mind

Livin' from door to door
Scattered your works all over the floor
Your lovely teenaged body has gone to pot
Your complexion's really shot
And your teeth are fallin' out
But you don't care 'cause you're miles away
Got a case of hepatitis, uh uh uh
Haven't had a bath since August, uh uh uh

W/68 - Charles River Park

Richard Griggs


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.