Song of the Week

EHSDA Song of the Week: Better Living Through Chemistry

This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule updating its Hazard Communication standard to incorporate updates to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The updated rule takes effect on July 19, but the Song of the Week goes into effect right now: It’s Queens of the Stone Age with their 2000 gem “Better Living Through Chemistry.”

The song is on the band’s second album, Rated R. Frontman Josh Homme started QOTSA after the breakup of stoner rock icons Kyuss, but he took his new band in a different direction; QOTSA plays a stylized brand of hard rock that incorporates a lot of diverse elements. Rated R found the band aided by a number of guest musicians including Mark Lanegan, Chris Goss, Barrett Martin and Dave Catching.

There are several references to drugs and alcohol on the album, but “Better Living Through Chemistry” looks at the downside of prescription drug use.

“The blue pill opens your eyes/Is there a better way?/A new religion prescribed/To those without the faith/The hero holding a knife/And blood is not enough/Is it too late to go back?/Is it too late to go?/There’s no one here/And people everywhere, you’re on your own.”

The song wasn’t released as a single, but songs like “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” and “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” helped establish QOTSA as a band to watch. Their next album, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, featured Dave Grohl on drums and was a bona fide hit. The band has released five albums since then and is one of the biggest rock acts going. There were many lineup configurations in the early days of the band with Homme as the one constant, but the group has had the same five members in place for the last 11 years.

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