Morphine Is The Cure For Pain: An Underrated 90s Band

Morphine, one of the great underappreciated bands of the 90s, were as minimal as it gets.  They were a three piece of drums, saxophone and two-string bass.  How do you even make a sound out of that?  Yeah, I’m starting a band too.  I have a kazoo, a whoopee-cushion and a sock full of monopoly pieces that I twirl around for percussion.  But, we don’t actually play music or record though, we just release sheet music to our audience and let them meditate on how it sounds.

Morphine. Photo from

The cheery boys of Morphine. Photo from

Morphine were for real and oh the stuff they did with those instruments!  If I’d have guessed how many people were in their band I would have said at least five, if not a full marching band.  They did add a few things in the studio, but mostly it was made by the three guys.  And the methods they used were so weird.  The singer/bass player Mark Sandman would use a slide on those two bass strings.  They used a tritar, whatever the hell that is.  And here’s the one that really gets me:  The saxophone player often played two saxophones at once.  WHAT?!  There’s no way a human being can do that.  I played saxophone when I was younger and I can’t understand how that’s even remotely possible.  Granted, I couldn’t walk in a straight line and give a thumbs up at the same time, but still, that’s unreal!  I’m more likely to believe that you can drive two cars at once than that you can play two saxophones at once.  And shut up, saxophone nerds, I don’t need a message about how it’s actually quite easy.  Let me have my two-saxophoned unicorn dragon.

Dana Colley from Morphine.  Photo from

Dana Colley from Morphine playing double saxophones. Photo from

Tragedy struck Morphine in 1999 when frontman Mark Sandman unexpectedly collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of 46 while on stage in Italy.  Supposedly his death resulted from a combination of stress, cigarette smoke and that night’s heat of over 100 degrees.  That’s just perfect.  It’s romantic.  That’s way better than dying at a Chuck-E-Cheese in Muncie, IN, or living to be Billy Corgan.  So there’s no chance of a true Morphine reunion.  Unless Paul McCartney wants to join up, bobble his stupid big head around and play half a bass.  But that’s okay, because they have five stellar albums that you can play in almost any mood.  Okay, that’s not true.  Most moods do not support a Morphine listening.  You don’t get a raise and blast “Cure For Pain.”  You don’t play them at your wedding and I’m almost positive that repeated listening in high school kept my mom’s finger on the last number of the suicide watch hotline.

Here are the times and places that it’s appropriate to play Morphine:

– at 3am while watching TV evangelist Jack Van Impe on mute.

– at 3am after faking your death and moving to Tijuana.

– at 3am while licking toads and drinking salamander venom in the hotel bar from “Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas.”

Suggested Morphine listening:
You Speak My Language
Cure For Pain

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