“Ball and Chain” – Social Distortion

Arguably, Social Distortion’s best-known and most beloved song. I remember hearing it on a Walkman when I was walking to work one morning during the summer of 1990 and knew this song was an immediate classic. Mike Ness’s love for Johnny Cash is obvious here.

However, when I returned to college in the fall, I was chagrined to see how popular this song was for the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I was glad to see Social Distortion (one of the standout bands of the 1980s California hardcore punk scene) getting some hard-fought mainstream success and love from the masses. However, this harrowing song about addiction somehow got adopted as a drinking song for preppie frat boy idiots. Probably the same dolts that thought Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” was a patriotic song (except Bruce would have had to have known that simply having an anthemic song called “Born in the USA” with an album cover that has the American flag in the background during the height of Reganism would have picked up a lot of buyers who weren’t really listening to the lyrics … but I digress). Anyway, despite the bad taste of seeing jock dickheads, who would have beat the snot out of Mike Ness if they saw him on the street, singing his very personal song, this song is still a classic and still has power.

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