Tox Tunes #112: Chinese Rocks (Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers)

December 3, 2017, 11:34 pm

In a recent article discussing his favorite songs, food/travel guru Anthony Bourdain comments: “My early honeymoon period with heroin; this song made an other ill considered lifestyle option seem like a good idea.”

Bourdain probably wasn’t paying close attention to the lyrics, which describe something other than a wise personal choice:

I’m living on a Chinese Rock
All my best things are in hock
I’m living on a Chinese Rock
Everything is in the pawn shop

Chinese Rock” is heroin. According to a commenter on, there was an alternate third verse that the Heartbreakers sometimes sang live:

And when they set me on my toes
At first they thought my pulse was gone
I found that I was happy to die
And Chinese Rock was the reason why

Chinese Rocks” was written primarily by Dee Dee Ramone, with minor contributions by Richard Hell of The Heartbreakers (not related to Tom Petty’s similarly named group.) The long and complicated history regarding claims of authorship is outlined in the song’s Wikipedia post.fff

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