20 Songs About Drinking to Forget

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

Sometimes, you just need to forget. Whether you’re experiencing heartbreak, feeling overwhelmed by your life, or simply going through it, it’s nice to know you’re not alone. And with these songs listed below, it’s easy to see that the feeling of wanting to drink to forget is something so many of us feel from time to time.

Instead of drinking to forget, why not listen to these songs? Live vicariously through these themes of heartbreak, sadness, and sorrow!

1. “Drunk” by Ed Sheeran

“Drunk” by Ed Sheeran is perhaps one of the best songs about drinking to forget someone, or drinking the pain away! In this 2011 song, Sheeran opens with the lyrics, “I wanna be drunk when I wake up / On the right side of the wrong bed.”

As the song goes on, we learn a bit more about Sheeran’s heartbreak and state of mind. He desires to be drunk, as he feels this is the only way he’s going to be able to deal with his pain and feel love. After all, he can’t be with the one he loves — so getting drunk is the next best option for him!

2. “One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)” by Frank Sinatra

Want a classic song to drink to? “One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)” by Frank Sinatra is a classic that truly never gets old. Sinatra croons over this slow song about how heartbroken he feels. The song opens as Sinatra gets to a bar, realizes it’s going to close soon, but then begs the bartender to serve him.

We learn about why Sinatra’s so miserable, why he’s drinking, and why he’s begging to just stay in the bar a bit longer. He has one drink for his ex — and one for the road!

3. “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” by Merle Haggard

Here’s a country classic about drinking to forget by none other than Merle Haggard! In this 1980 song, Haggard sings about how his ex left him, and now he’s alone. However, he also sings that he’s happy to be alone, to a certain extent. After all, he doesn’t want to change for a woman!

But he is drinking too much and wants to forget her, so obviously he’s heartbroken over how things ended. He ends up singing, “Hey, hurtin’ me now don’t mean a thing / Since love ain’t here it don’t feel the pain / My mind ain’t nothing but a total blank.”

4. “I’m Drunk Again” by Hank Williams III

“I’m Drunk Again” by Hank Williams III follows the singer as he expresses his sorrow over losing his wife. He sings about how he had no choice but to get drunk again, as now he’s all alone — and that’s exactly what he doesn’t want. So, he decides to drink to try to forget his pain.

5. “Drink You Away” by Justin Timberlake

Now, for a pop song! “Drink You Away” by Justin Timberlake, which appears on his album The 20/20 Experience, also explores themes of heartbreak after the end of a romantic relationship. Timberlake sings about how he wants to forget his ex. So, he decides to drink to forget her… but can’t quite succeed.

6. “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo

In the hit song “Habits (Stay High)”, Tove Lo sings about all the extremes she’ll go to in order to try to keep her mind off of her ex. She’s obviously heartbroken and trying to move on. However, she can only really drink (and do drugs) to forget the pain that she’s in.

In the chorus, she sings the lyrics, “You’re gone and I gotta stay high / All the time to keep you off my mind.”

7. “Drinking Again” by Dinah Washington

Another classic! Dinah Washington’s “Drinking Again”, released in 1962, follows the singer as she explains the extreme heartbreak she’s experiencing. She is now alone — and she misses her ex. So, she explains that she’s now acting as if she’s a fool.

She’s all around town drinking again and buying everybody else drinks. As she goes to her normal haunts, she hopes that she’ll run into her ex. But alas, this never happens. So, she just continues to drink and spiral.

8. “The Bottle” by Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Bottle”, released in 1974, was inspired by the singer’s experiences talking with alcoholics outside of a liquor store. The song doesn’t shame or ridicule alcoholics. Instead, the singer takes the time to explain why people begin to drink and how they can spiral into becoming addicts.

He also explains that so many people drink to forget the pain they’re going through.

9. “Midnight Bottle” by Colbie Caillat

“Midnight Bottle” by Colbie Caillat, which appears on the 2007 album Coco, explores wanting to drink when you miss your ex. Caillat explains that she misses her ex and drinks to both remember the good times and forget the fact that she’s now alone.

She sings the lyrics, “A midnight bottle, gonna ease my pain / From all these feelings driving me insane / I think of you and everything’s all right / If only for tonight.”

10. “Bartender” by Lady A

Lady A’s “Bartender” also discusses drinking to forget, thanks to the end of a romantic relationship! In this song, the singer explains that she’s trying to get over a breakup. So, she ends up going out with her friends to a bar and drinking and dancing the night away — all so she can forget the pain she’s in.

She sings, “Hey bartender, pour ‘em hot tonight / ‘Til the party and the music and the truth collide / Bring it ‘til his memory fades away.”

11. “The Cut Off” by J. Cole

“The Cut Off” by J. Cole explores a lot of different topics and emotions. J. Cole mainly explains that he has to cut many people out of his life if they don’t bring him happiness. For example, he’s had to stop having relationships with, or being friends with, people who have caused him pain or taken advantage of him.

J. Cole also talks about how difficult this can be — and how it can be tempting to drown himself in alcohol or drugs to forget the pain. However, he also expresses his desire to not do this.

He says, “Gimme drink, gimme dope / Bottom line, I can’t cope.”

12. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss

And now, for a duet! Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss’ duet “Whiskey Lullaby”, which they released in 2004, follows a romantic couple that broke up years ago. But the man stayed heartbroken and turned to alcohol to try to cope.

They sing, “We watched him drink his pain away / A little at a time / But he never could get drunk enough / To get her off his mind.”

Unfortunately, because of this man’s consistent use of alcohol and the fact that he drank too much, he eventually passes away from his excess use.

13. “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions

“Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, which is a cover of a Merle Haggard song, opens with the lyrics, “Tonight the bottle let me down / And let your memory come around / The one true friend I thought I’d found.”

The singer explains that normally, he can rely on alcohol to allow him to forget. He doesn’t want to think about his pain, his heartbreak, or his ex. But this specific night, the bottle didn’t drown his memories and made him remember instead!

14. “Two More Bottles of Wine” by Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris’ 1978 song “Two More Bottles of Wine”, which appears on the album Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, follows a breakup. The singer explains that her ex left her after they both fell on hard times. Even though they moved out to the West Coast together, even though she thought they would make it, he left her.

Even though she’s sad, she’s trying to stay positive. As a result, she ends up singing, “But it’s all right ’cause it’s midnight / And I got two more bottles of wine.”

15. “Once” by Rascal Flatts

“Once” by Rascal Flatts follows the singer as he wants to get back together with an ex. So, while he’s not necessarily drinking to forget her, he is drunk on an illusion that maybe things will work out… even though he knows they likely won’t.

He sings, “And I wait by the phone / In the dark, drunk on hope / I’m so lost, I’m so low.”

16. “80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper” by George Strait

George Strait’s 1983 song “80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper” is all about drinking to try to forget heartbreak. Strait explains that there’s nothing worse than giving your love to someone who ends up leaving you heartbroken.

However, he does explain that there is a cure for this: drinking away her memory! He sings the lyrics, “Give me an 80-proof bottle of tear stopper / And I’ll start feelin’ I forgot her / Get a little loose and lose her memory / And I won’t think I’m close to dyin’.”

17. “Happiness” by Three Days Grace

In “Happiness’, Three Days Grace talks about alcoholism and trying to forget pain through drinking. The singer explains that it’s not one specific thing that has made him turn to the bottle. He’s not drinking over one breakup or heartbreak. Instead, he turned to the bottle when he realized that no one was helping him — and life got to be too hard.

He sings, “Happiness straight from the bottle / When real life’s too hard to swallow.”

18. “On Tap, In the Can or In the Bottle” by Hank Thompson

Another country classic! Hank Thompson’s “On Tap, In the Can or In the Bottle” explores heartbreak. Thompson explains that his girl left him. Now, he’s all alone, drinking and remembering both the good and bad times.

So, he ends up singing, “There’s no place to go and hide myself / The only sanctuary I seek / Is on tap, in the can or in the bottle / Oh bartender bring it to me.”

19. “Me, Myself, and I” by John Prine

“Me, Myself, and I” by John Prine, first released in 1984, follows the singer as he talks about his deep unhappiness. His sorrow has left him feeling as if he’s haunting himself. So, he’s going to throw himself a party and drink away his pain as much as he can.

Prine sings, “In that room, there’ll be a bottle and me, myself and I.”

20. “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” by Margo Price

At last, we’ve got “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” by Margo Price, another song about drinking to forget! In this song, Price signs about drinking to forget the pain that she’s feeling as a result of heartbreak.

The song opens with the lyrics, “I put a hurtin’ on the bottle / Baby, now I’m blind enough to see / I’ve been drinking whiskey like it’s water / But that don’t touch the pain you put on me.”