Blood for Poppies

Album: Not Your Kind of People (2012)

Songfacts®:

  • This is the lead single by alternative rock group Garbage from their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind of People. "The song is meant to feel sort of like an abstract dream," said frontwoman Shirley Manson. "The inspiration came from a story I had read in Los Angeles Times about the opium trade and also from watching the documentary Restrepo. It's not literal in any sense whatsoever but it's a song about disorientation and delusion and the human struggle to stay sane in the face of insanity." The single was made available on March 20, 2012.
  • Fashion photographer and filmmaker Matt Irwin shot the music video in Malibu and Los Angeles.
  • Here's some history: It was the Assyrians who discovered the calming and sedative properties of the opium poppy, which they cultivated. They used it medicinally to relieve pain, induce sleep, and bring on feelings of serenity and well being for psychologically damaged patients. The ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, Indian, Minoan, Greek, Roman, Persian and Arab Empires all made widespread use of opium, which was the most potent form of pain relief then available. By the seventeenth century, opium was being mixed with tobacco for smoking, and its addictive properties were being recognized. At the turn of the 19th century, opium was deemed in Western countries to be the most effective painkiller. It was usually dispensed as a dark brown alcoholic solution, but unfortunately its use had become particularly addictive. Widespread medical use of unprocessed opium continued until late in the century when it gave way to morphine, which could be injected at a precisely controlled dosage. Opium was prohibited in many countries during the early twentieth century, leading to the modern pattern of opium production as a precursor for illegal recreational drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The 2010 documentary film Restrepo chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley who are battling in a country whose biggest money earner is the illicit trade of opium.
  • The song's music video, which was directed by fashion photographer Matt Irwin, features imagery inspired by such artists as Luis Buñuel and René Magritte. "We piled into a transit van with the ridiculously talented team of Matt Irwin and Aaron Brown and hopped around little pockets of Los Angeles creating a gorgeous surrealist dream," said Manson. "We ate ice cream sandwiches in the sunshine and laughed a lot. I didn't want the shoot to end."
  • Drummer Butch Vig told MusicRadar.com how the song came together: "Initially, it started out almost as a dub," he said. "It was a very simple groove and bassline, and then, as Shirl came up with this stream-of-consciousness vocal approach, the song kept getting refined. It was long verses at first. Once she did the chorus vocals, we came up with the fuzzed-out, saturated guitars.

    Steve (Marker) plays the wah-wah part, and Duke (Erikson) does all the little melodic bits in the verses," he continued. "Steve wrote the monster riff, almost at the 11th hour. Once he had the riff, we mixed the song, saturating everything, running it all through buses with distortion preamps."
  • Though Manson's lyrics were inspired by the Afghanistan war, they are also a metaphor for feeling isolated and lonely in a band. When she sings, "I miss my dog, I miss my freedom," she is talking about her pet pooch Vila.

Comments: 1

  • Smartalek from Boston, MaThank you so much for all the background on what's become one of my most favoritest Garbage tracks ever -- esp the reference to that documentary "Restrepo," which I think I might have heard of, but wld almost certainly never have actually watched. Now it's gonna go near the top of my to-be-tor... I mean, top of my Netflix queue.
    One correction, tho -- w/ total respect (really, no snark) -- cocaine isn't an opiate, and doesn't come from the opium poppy.
    It's derived from the coca plant, and tho it does function as a local anesthetic, it's more of a central-nervous-system stimulant than a depressant. Opiates can knock you out; coke gets you up (as it were).
    Not that I would know any of this from personal experience, mind you...
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