Lady Gaga, ‘Dope’ – Song Meaning
Lady Gaga‘s ‘Dope,’ which appears on ‘ARTPOP,’ is a resonant power ballad that compares love to drugs, which is not new territory for Ma Monster. It’s a piano-driven song with soulful vocals, reminding us of the emotional largesse of ‘You & I,’ the passion of ‘The Edge of Glory’ and the wistful lament of ‘Hair,’ all of which are ‘Born This Way’ tracks. We’re breaking down the meaning of ‘Dope,’ both the lyrics and the song.
“The party’s just begun / I promise this / This drink is my last one / I know that I f–ked up again / Because I lost my only friend.”
To our ears, Gaga compares the idea of getting off the sauce to a relationship. Or you read into it more literally, and assume that her habits and addictions caused her to lose something more special and more important, like her relationship or her job.
“My heart would break without you / Might not awake without you / Been hurting low, from living high for so long / I’m sorry, and I love you / Sing with me / ‘Bell Bottom Blue’ / I’ll keep searching for an answer cause I need you more than dope.”
In addition to the Eric Clapton and Derek and the Dominos reference (‘Bell Bottom Blue’), she makes a grand declaration, sounding like she is swearing off one addiction in favor of another. Saying she needs her lover more than dope is dangerous, though. She is trading fixes, but at least she realizes the one that is better for her is the one she needs. Even so, it’s still dangerous to give up one in order to feed another. Few addictions are as potent or as destructive as love so perhaps there is no drug addiction at all. Maybe love is her only drug.
“One last puff / And two last regrets / Three spirits / And 12 lonely steps / Up heaven’s stairway to gold… / Oh, I feel so low from living high.”
Again, she indulges one last time in drink and drugs, and hits that path to recovery. She’s already feeling the effects of withdrawal and she’s not stoked about letting go of her dependencies, because they are tough to kick and they do provide a chemical comfort. But sometimes, you just gotta. To us, it sounds like she is facing the prospect of letting go of something powerful — be it dope or love. Perhaps this is her final kiss with her lover. There is a lot of room for interpretation.
PopCrushers and little monsters, what do you guys think of our read of ‘Dope?’ Are you seeing a different or more literal meaning?
Listen to Lady Gaga, ‘Dope’