Tox Tunes #57: Mother’s Little Helper (The Rolling Stones)

April 15, 2012, 11:49 pm

We mentioned in a recent post that the AMC TV series Mad Men — which this season takes place in 1966 — is getting into the use of prescription uppers and downers as life-style drugs, not by suburban youth, but by parents and grandparents. The Rolling Stones song “Mother’s Little Helper” — which deals directly with this issue — was released as a single in 1966 and rose to #8 on the Billboard Singles Chart.  According to Stephen Davis’s book Old Gods Almost Dead:

“Mother’s Little Helper”, with its derisively cruel images of women tranquilized by little yellow pills, was released as a single . . . and only made it to no. 8. A lot of American fans thought “”Little Helper” was a real downer.

There has been some debate about exactly what “little yellow pill” The Stones were referring to. Some believe it was methaqualone, which at the time was the most commonly prescribed sedative in Great Britain. Some say it was diazepam, which seems to me unlikely since it had only recently come on the market. In my opinion, the probable likely medication that “helps her on her way/gets her through her busy day” would be Nembutal (pentobarbital).

Nembutal (pentobarbital)

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