Music and medicine seemingly make odd bedfellows, but when you think about how many songwriters moan about illness of the heart and mind it makes more sense. On top of that, narcotics (both of the legal and illicit variety) is another prevalent subject matter. So, now that we’ve established the connection, here’s a playlist featuring music about medicine. Medical jams: From plastic surgery to cancer to sex changes, it’s been rocked about:
“Heart Doctor” by Lee “Scratch” Perry
This late period track by the legendary (and legendarily kooky) Lee “Scratch” Perry finds the reggae/dub artist and producer doling out “advice” to his patients. Based on the uncontrolled giggling that starts off the track and the litany of narcotics reeled off during the verses, I would venture to say that this is one type of heart doctor you won’t find making rounds at St. Luke’s.
“A Nurse’s Life is Full of Woe” by Billy Bragg
An unreleased track taken from the sessions of Talking With the Taxman About Poetry, “A Nurse’s Life is Full of Woe” finds Bragg taking on the plight of the working class, a cause he’s been singing about for over two decades now. A fiery protest singer who is equally adept at churning out a sublime love song (see “Must I Paint You a Picture” or “A New England” for proof), the Bard of Barking is one of the modern era’s unheralded lyricists.
“Plastic Surgery” by Maps of Africa
You can’t have a medical themed songlist without a nod to the vain, and there’s no better ode to plastic surgery than this psychedelic thumper by Maps of Africa. Granted, it seems as if things have gone horribly wrong for this patient: “I used to be a person/but I’ve turned into a version/of my plastic surgery.”