I don't know just where I'm going
But I'm gonna try for the kingdom, if I can
'Cause it makes me feel like I'm a man
When I put a spike into my vein
And I tell you things aren't quite the same

When I'm rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus' son
And I guess that I just don't know
And I guess that I just don't know

I have made big decision
I'm gonna try to nullify my life
'Cause when the blood begins to flow
When it shoots up the dropper's neck
When I'm closing in on death

You can't help me now, you guys
And all you sweet girls with all your sweet talk
You can all go take a walk
And I guess I just don't know
And I guess that I just don't know

I wish that I was born a thousand years ago
I wish that I'd sailed the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship
Going from this land here to that
On a sailor's suit and cap

Away from the big city
Where a man cannot be free
Of all the evils of this town
And of himself and those around
Oh, and I guess that I just don't know
Oh, and I guess that I just don't know

Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, it's my wife and it's my life
Because a mainline into my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I'm better off than dead

Because when the smack begins to flow
I really don't care anymore
About all the Jim-Jims in this town
And all the politicians making crazy sounds
And everybody putting everybody else down
And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds

'Cause when the smack begins to flow
And I really don't care anymore
Ah, when that heroin is in my blood
And that blood is in my head
Then thank God that I'm as good as dead
And thank your God that I'm not aware
And thank God that I just don't care
And I guess I just don't know
Oh, and I guess I just don't know


Lyrics submitted by capitol76

"Heroin" as written by Lou Reed

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Heroin song meanings
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115 Comments

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  • +12
    General CommentAs Lou has said, the song is about heroin. Not for it, not against it, just about it. That's only one part of its brilliance (very few, if any, songwriters have had the courage to deal so head-on with drugs since); it's also brilliant musically, with everything so primal, from the simple guitars raving up and down, the screeching viola and perhaps most importantly, Moe's pounding drums. Just beautiful!
    leamancon December 27, 2010   Link
  • +8
    General CommentI don't know why, but to me this is a beautiful song. It almost makes me cry at times. The lyrics are kind of meaningful too. I'd say Lou isn't very fond of heroin.
    I And Ion August 06, 2002   Link
  • +8
    General CommentEver notice how on the first album, most of the instrumentation seem to try to metaphorically symbolize the theme/subject of the song? With heroin, with its the flow from the rush and the nod, slowly building up, and increasingly strung out (care of cale's screeching viola). I'm Waiting for the Man sounds angular and repetitive and full of motion, just like the city it describes. Venus in Furs sounds like some viking slave ship beat, perfect for its account depravity in antiquity. In There She Goes Again, at the end of the verse, when lou says, "you'd better hit her", the band answers back with a sharp "bum bum bum bum" in agreement. And then my all time favorite, The Black Angel's Death Song, has Cale's viola providing that eerie, ghostly shriek in perfect counterpoint to Reed's rambling lyrics about death and choice and fate. The whole album is completely sublime. If you yearn to start a band whose ideals are originality and expression, this album is almost a prerequisite.
    kamalmanzukieon December 06, 2009   Link
  • +7
    General CommentI love Lou Reed because he doesn't say something is good or bad he just goes, hey here it is, you decide. I think he is the most truthful song writer I've ever heard
    drgonzothxon August 27, 2002   Link
  • +6
    General CommentWhen I heard this song as a teenager I promised myself that I never ever would take drugs. The lyrics scared me. There was nothing romatic about taking heroin. It was just a sentence to slavery and death.
    I held that promise.
    Rebelcaton September 09, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI like how the song progresses. It becomes more disorderly until it snaps. The style parallels a heroin trip.
    novadudeon December 05, 2004   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI really don't care anymore
    About all the Jim-Jim's in this town
    And all the politicians makin' crazy sounds
    And everybody puttin' everybody else down
    And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds

    This song is about escape. Kind of like, "look what you guys made me do." The world is in turmoil and is crazy, but he finds his own craze and peace within himself and his drug.
    puzzudon July 31, 2010   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationListened to this song this morning, it's been a long time for me, but I had to hear it one last time after hearing about Lurid's death.
    This song is undeniably about the seductive power of drugs. Romantic and immature thoughts leading to attempts to escape "the evils". All the while, the drug taking over what is good, "life". "A big decision" is at once offered as ironic and also emblematic of the redefining of life as being focused on the escape the drug offers. And then, how it leads to nowhere but annihilation. Funny how the song starts with "I don't know" and then ends with it.
    montresoron October 29, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthe Velvet Underground was amazing, and this is quite possibly their most amazing song. its so solid all the way through. and to comment back on someone saying that Lou doesn't like Heroin, i don't think the song reflects that. rather i think it's him telling his experience through metaphors and the works..
    ripped book pageon March 07, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentmatrix mouse I think they probably didn't use the song heroin in trainspotting cos its a bit of a junky cliche cos its just such an obvious song.

    I'm sure Lou Reed did enjoy heroin I think its pretty impossible not to enjoy. but I don't think he enjoyed the conflicting sides, I mean addiction is never fun mind u I guess he could afford it.

    I think it shows a lot about junky mentality. Junk is a painkiller. And at the centre of the song is great unhappiness. Heroin is used to fill the holes in life "it's my wife and its my life". Its used to dull confusion note the slowing and returning to calm of the music as he comes to accept the conculsion "I guess that I just don't know".

    It shows heroin as an escape so the character in the song wants to "Escape from the big city". And the lyrics "Thank god that I'm good as dead and thank you god that I'm not aware" Shows that this person is grateful to be half dead. The junky is searching for oblivion its a kind of alternative to suicide. He even acknowledges it int the line "be the death of me". He knows what he's doing and what he's heading for. And if it doesn't kill you physically its gonna kill u inside till all u have is a need to fulfil.

    And I love the way that the song mimics the rush from its slow beggininngs to the frenzied middle and the come down.
    Perfect Wh()reon October 04, 2004   Link

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