I really did go crazy. Completely nuts. For several months.
There was cocaine, and there was champagne ~ a lot of it. It just dropped into
everybody's lap at the same time, and everybody I knew ~ people had no money,
people who had money ~ everybody did coke. It was a pretty unfortunate universal
In the beginning, [stimulants] made you brave. You're scared to walk onstage
in front of a bunch of people. Last night [performing at a club] in front of only
two hundred people, my knees were knocking together. I was holding onto the microphone
and my hand was shaking because I was so nervous. The old days to get away from
that you have a drink, or whatever anybody else does, and you get brave and so
you don't have to experience that terrible fear. I get terrible stage fright...where
I'm very. very nervous. ...[But] the second I am onstage I'm not nervous anymore....[Stage
fright] is probably why in the old days people did start doing drugs and stuff
because they were simply afraid. Then that becomes a habit, then you think you
absolutely can't do without it.
when I went to Betty Ford, I realized that cocaine allowed me to do more than
it was necessary for me to do. The important things I had to do got done anyway.
And all that extra time allowed me to do a bunch of stuff not that well. You know,
like you get crazy and say well, I'm just gonna write three songs tonight, I'm
gonna sit at my typewriter and I'm gonna sit at my typewriter and I'm gonna write
ten pages of my future book, and I'm gonna go through my closets and I'm gonna
pick out all the things that I want to take with me on my next trip. I'm gonna
do all that by tomorrow. And you don't have to do that. What I learned at Betty
Ford is that it isn't necessary to go non-stop, seven days a week, even though
everybody will always tell you that.
The excessive part of it [drugs] no longer exists in my life, and hasn't for
four years. What makes me angry with myself is that a whole lot of money went
out for that, which all could have in our bank accounts right now. And at this
point in my life I wish I had all that money to give to leukemia research.
Here, give me your pen. [She makes a little sketch of two noses.] That's the
hole in Chris's nose and that's the hole in my nose. [The first is a tiny dot,
the other the size of a 10p piece.] You could put a big gold ring through my septum.
It affects my eyes, my sinuses. It was a lot of fun for a long time, because we
didn't know it was bad. But eventually it gets hold of you and all you can think
about is where your next line is coming from.
It was like being swept up on a white horse by a prince. There was no way to
get off the white horse ~ and I didn't want to. It took over my life in a big
I think a lot of us realize we're really lucky to be alive. The ones of us
who did make it pretty much cherish the fact that we are alive. You have to learn
if you can't depend on yourself without [chemicals], you might as well stop doing
it and go do something else, because it isn't worth dying for...But it is difficult,
and probably always will be difficult to accept this whole life in a different
way... Because for so long it was lived under that dream cloud, dream child world
of different kinds of drugs.
If there's money and high powered people around, it's pretty easy to do drugs," she says. It wasn't just the tenor of the times. "It was just: Everybody did cocaine. Everybody." Nobody ever told us how dangerous it was. If somebody ever sat me down and really told me the repercussions of doing too much cocaine over 10 years, I know I would have been more careful. But nobody ever did. I absolutely remember people saying: It's recreational, it's not addictive, it's excessive. It's the rich man's drug. It's something you do once in a while and have a good time. Nobody ever said anything about that it could remove your brain from your head. It was OK.
And then, of course, it wasn't OK. But it was too late.
Yes, the drugs were bad and they got everybody sick and made a lot of problems. However, the there's the tragic artist drug syndrome that sometimes makes for great art. So I would go back and change any of it? No I wouldn't. I think it all happened for a reason. I'm alive today and I'm fine and I'm in fairly good health. So I got through it. I wouldn't go back and change anything. I'm not disappointed with it and I'm not sorry about it. It is the way it was. And I'm OK now. If I was dead now, we wouldn't be doing this interview, and I would say, maybe I wish it had changed. But I got through it, so I was lucky.
I would never lecture anybody because I don't think that's the way to get
to people. It certainly wasn't the way to get to me. I decided to go to Betty
Ford. Nobody came and threw me in a van and took me. That was my decision. I booked
the room. I paid for it. So I really think when it comes down to that stuff, it's
really all up to you.