Spirits as in ‘not ghosts’. Spirits as in ‘any organic compound whose molecule contains one or more hydroxyl groups attached to a carbon atom’. Spirits as in ‘alcohol’.
Easiest list of all. Well, surely when it comes to The Pogues or Tom Waits you have options – but otherwise I didn’t even have to think twice. Each song is taken from a different decade (well, almost) but each represents a similar level of affection for what Raymond Chandler once famously compared to love. “The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off”.
In the immortal words of Withnail: We want the finest wines available to humanity. We want them here and we want them now.
#5. The Divine Comedy – “A Drinking Song”
Genius. From Promenade, undeniably Neil Hannon’s best set of songs. This one’s a lyrics video not out of negligence but on purpose.
#4. Okkervil River – “John Allyn Smith Sails”
This is different. Will Sheff’s greatest song is not so much about alcohol as about the tragic death of John Berryman. The “Sloop John B” ending is both heartbreaking and ecstatic.
#3. The Pogues – “Bottle Of Smoke”
So many to choose from. And… never say such things as ‘Flogging Molly’ or ‘Dropkick Murphy’s’ in polite company. Never.
#2. Tom Waits – “The Piano Has Been Drinking”
The best idea would be to listen to the whole of Nighthawks At Diner, but this, too, captures the mood. No one can romanticize alcohol as effectively and eloquently as Tom Waits.
#1. The Kinks – “Alcohol”
Left with no choice. Ray Davies in 1971-72 was all drunken charm. The song.