“Cocaine” is a song written and recorded in 1976 by singer-songwriter J. J. Cale. The song was popularized by Eric Clapton after his cover version was released on the 1977 album Slowhand.
Glyn Johns produced the Clapton recording, which was released on the 1977 album Slowhand. A live version of “Cocaine” from the album Just One Night charted on the Billboard Hot 100 as the B-side of “Tulsa Time”, which was a No. 30 hit in 1980. “Cocaine” was one of several of Cale’s songs recorded by Clapton, including “After Midnight” and “Travelin’ Light”. AllMusic critic Richard Gilliam called the latter “among [Clapton’s] most enduringly popular hits” and noted that “even for an artist like Clapton with a huge body of high-quality work, ‘Cocaine’ ranks among his best.”
Clapton described “Cocaine” as an anti-drug song. He called the song “quite cleverly anti-cocaine”, noting:
It’s no good to write a deliberate anti-drug song and hope that it will catch. Because the general thing is that people will be upset by that. It would disturb them to have someone else shoving something down their throat. So the best thing to do is offer something that seems ambiguous—that on study or on reflection actually can be seen to be “anti”—which the song “Cocaine” is actually an anti-cocaine song. If you study it or look at it with a little bit of thought … from a distance … or as it goes by … it just sounds like a song about cocaine. But actually, it is quite cleverly anti-cocaine.
Because of its ambiguous message, Clapton did not perform the song in many of his concerts; over the years, he has added the lyrics ‘that dirty cocaine’ in live shows to underline the anti-drug message of the song.