Category Archives: Music

Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Addiction, and 13 Min. of Static

In searching for artists with amazing stories of recovery, we came across one that many folks might not be familiar with: Wilco, a Chicago-based alt rock band became critic favorites for the release of their 2000 LP Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the making of which was documented in the film “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”.

Amid the making of Wilco’s seminal album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, lead singer Jeff Tweedy struggled with creative anxiety, inter-personal band tensions, and an addiction to prescription drugs that pervaded the isolated and detached nature of the band’s music, eventually culminating in the follow-up album, A Ghost is Born‘s, 13 minutes of eerie static. This was meant to represent the ever-present ailment of migraines. You can hear it below.

A migraine sufferer since childhood, this affliction provided the gateway for his abuse of painkillers. However, combined with Tweedy’s struggle with depression and anxiety, his abuse of prescription meds became more prevalent. Growing up in a time when mood disorders, depression, and anxiety weren’t well understood, Tweedy took comfort in the fact that his migraines provided physical symptoms to show pain his parents could quantify. He has since has been open about his suspicion that the migraines were linked to his depression.

In many ways, Tweedy has expressed that his music is a way for him to rise above the pain. Never missing a show because of his migraines, Tweedy is known for having kept a bucket just to the side of the stage to vomit in between songs. He realized the fans probably thought he was strung out on drugs, but this never affected the long-term image of the band and highlights Tweedy’s devotion to his craft.

Tweedy began taking painkillers recreationally, but the problem escalated with his easy access to the medication due to migraines. He eventually realized his problem and decided to stop all of his prescription medication including an antidepressant he’d began taking. Five weeks later, Tweedy suffered from a massive panic attack that left him in the hospital for two days.

Finally, after recommended to a dual diagnosis facility that treats patients for their mental issues and addictions, Tweedy found relief. He had the support of his family and friends, and one month later was clean with a new set of tools to cope with his mood disorders and anxiety. He claims to have been more or less migraine free for the last four years and continues to cope with anxiety and depression without the use of prescription painkillers.

For a more discreet read on Tweedy’s struggle with addiction and migraines, read this interview in the NYTimes from 2008.

Here is the song “Less Than You Think” with the full 13 minutes of noise as it appeared on the studio version of A Ghost is Born:

Enter Our "Home for the Holidays" Contest!

During the Holidays, we like to reflect on all of the wonderful things we have been blessed with this year: family, friends, and a place to call home.  We feel incredibly thankful to have each and every one of you in the Hickory Wind Ranch family.  It is because of your love and support that we have been able to build a strong community of individuals dedicated to recovery.

To celebrate, we’re launching a new “Home for the Holidays” contest.  We’ve got an exclusive Gram Parson’s prize pack for you including:

  • Gram Parsons “Grievous Angel” vinyl record, promo copy signed by Polly Parsons
  • Gram Parsons “The Early Years” boxed set signed by Polly Parsons
  • Gram Parsons “Return to Sin City” Tribute DVD

Gram Parsons Prize Pack

To enter, post a photo on our Facebook wall that best represents what “home” means to you – a picture of your family, the place you feel most at peace, a piece of art that reminds you of home – use your creativity!

The photo with more than 150 “Likes” at the end of the contest period WINS!

Important: Your friends must “like” the Hickory Wind Ranch Page to be able to “like” your Wall Photo, so please direct them to our page!

Winner will be announced Saturday, Dec 24 at 6PM.

Best of Luck & Happy Holidays from Hickory Wind Ranch!



Maintaining Sobriety as an Artist – Eminem

This is a first in our series of posts recognizing some of the Best Online Sobriety Resources in 2011. This post is from our friends at, an online sober resource, and one of our award winners.

Drug use can be a creative tool for many musicians to tap into their sub-conscience and create music that would otherwise be unattainable. Being an artist is one of the few professions that does not discourage drug and alcohol use. In many cases it is endorsed as a positive instrument for inspiration. Contemporary music such as the hip-hop by Lil Wayne and the sudden popularity of club music such as dubstep and drum and bass rely heavily on drugs as a muse.

Eminem recorded and wrote several songs that led him to being a giant in the rap industry under the influence of drugs & alcohol. This eventually led to a near-death experience involving an overdose, in which he entered a rehabilitation program. He exited the program and had a short relapse before realizing he could not conquer his addiction alone. Eminem then became a regular attendee at AA and did what he once thought was impossible, record and write music sober.

His newfound clarity led him to accept a Grammy award for Best Rap Album (“Recovery”), sporting a necklace embroidered with an AA symbol. In his hit single from Recovery known as “Not Afraid”, Eminem is open about his sobriety and its positive influence on his music. Here are a few lyrics from “Not Afraid”

It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me. Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally for you. So I could come back a brand new me, you helped see me through.

Many artists begin to use drugs in excess, and the original inspiration it once produced tends to fade. The excessive use to regain that initial boost of creativity can do the exact inverse of its intention and may actually dull the creative mind further. Partly because of this, drug use by famous musicians has escalated to the point of death through overdose by many recognized talents in this field, such as the recent death of Amy Winehouse. However, as Eminem has proven, finding & maintaining sobriety can often lead to some of the best musical work of an artist’s career.

Author byline: Adam Rubin is a professional writer and contributor to’s blog. His work can be seen on his online portfolio at

Amy Winehouse’s Legacy Lives On

Amy Winehouse singing

Parents of the late Amy Winehouse have recently announced that they will create a foundation in her honor to assist individuals struggling with drug addiction.

Amy died this past July after struggling with drug and alcohol addition for many years.   The artist was known around the world for her soulful voice, sincere lyrics, and powerful stage presence.  Her profound impact on modern music and entertainment won’t soon be forgotten.

Earlier this year, Amy recorded a single called “Body and Soul” with legendary jazz singer Tony Bennett at London’s Abbey Road Studios.   The single was released just shortly after her death, with proceeds benefiting the new foundation.

Though she is gone, Amy’s incredible legacy and music live on.  Check out the video of Amy and Tony Bennett performing “Body and Soul” below.


Welcome to the Hickory Wind Ranch blog!

Polly Parsons at Hickory Wind Ranch

The Hickory Wind Ranch community sure is a special bunch.  Each week, many of you share your love and support with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  While we appreciate all you do for us, we want to give back to you, too.

That’s what this blog is all about: helping our friends create more healthy, balanced lifestyles.   Between work, the kids, and whatever else you may have going on, it can be a challenge to live well.   Here, you’ll find advice on balancing the scales of life and living a fuller, healthier one.

Also, we’re keeping quite busy over here at Hickory Wind Ranch and we love giving our most loyal fans a peek at what’s going on with us.  Consider this your go-to place for the latest news on Hickory Wind Ranch.  We’ll be updating regularly with news, photos, and touching stories from real clients and former addicts.

We hope you’ll take this journey with us.  You’ll always have a home at Hickory Wind Ranch.


Polly Parsons & the Hickory Wind Ranch Team