Been Smoking Too Long

I wrote “Been Smoking Too Long” in the last few weeks of 1966. I was living in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, playing around Aix and Marseilles in various clubs. The guitar/vocal demo (see link below) was recorded in early 1967 at a friend’s flat.

One evening, after a performance in Aix, a couple of young Englishmen introduced themselves. One of them was Nick Drake. We spent a few evenings playing songs for each other and one night Nick asked for the lyrics to “Been Smoking To Long” which I wrote out for him. It’s an easy, bluesy song that seemed to capture the feel of the times. Nick picked up music very quickly. His guitar arrangement is sophisticated and smooth.

Years later, when I heard his home recording, I realized he had changed a line. “Got the marijuana blues” became “Got no other life to choose” – a fatalistic turn of phrase that strikes me as very like him.

He recorded the song a couple of times, first on the “Aix Tape” in April or May of 1967 and then on the home demo which is now included on the FAMILY TREE album. I’ve written more about Aix and my friendship with Nick elsewhere on this site in Nick Drake: A Place To Be and Sandy Grey.

I continued to play the song during the early 1970s and then put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Times changed. I changed. I thought it might be worth revisiting this song. Instead of the original acoustic blues arrangement, I chose to lay down a chill groove with electro touches which just seemed to feel right to me. I was surprised at how easy it was to sing and how much better I now understand what I wrote so long ago.

Many other artists have covered this song including Graham Coxon, Placebo, Hederos and Helberg, Dax Riggs, Alison Faith Levy, and lots of people who just like to sing it. Below the lyrics are some links to mp3s and video files.

My recordings

Been Smoking Too Long, 2003


Download available  at CD Baby and iTunes.


Been Smoking Too Long, 1967 my Home demo – [ mp3 Lo-Fi ] mp3 Hi-Fi ] Recorded by Jean-Louis Pujol, Aix-en-Provence, France. Winter 1966-67.

Scroll down for more versions: Placebo, Graham Coxon, Dax Riggs, Alison Faith Levy, and more. If you have version of “Been Smoking Too Long” send us a link.


Been Smoking Too Long – Lyrics

Words & Music by Robin Frederick

Am     Am/G   Am/F     E7

Am     Am/G   Am/F     E7

Dm7      E7

Am   Am/G     F7    E7     Am

I wake up in the morning
Look at my clock
It’s way past noontime
I know I’m late for work
Tell me, tell me, what have I done wrong
Ain’t nothin’ goin’ right for me<
Must be I been smoking too long.

I go to fix me some breakfast
But I ain’t got no food
Go to take me a shower
But the water don’t feel no good
Tell me, tell me, what have I done wrong
Ain’t nothin’ goin’ right for me
Must be I been smoking too long.

Got opium in my chimney
Got the marijuana blues
Got a nightmare made of hash dreams
Got the devil in my shoes
Tell me, tell me, what have I done wrong
Ain’t nothin’ goin’ right for me
Must be I been smoking too long.

Now when I get to smokin’
I put my worries on a shelf
Don’t think about nothin’
Try not to see myself
Tell me, tell me, what have I done wrong
Ain’t nothin’ goin’ right for me
Must be I been smoking too long.

Now in these blues I’m singing
There’s a lesson to be learned
Don’t go round smokin’
‘Less you want to get burned
Tell me, tell me, what have I done wrong
Ain’t nothin’ goin’ right for me
Must be I been smoking…
Ain’t nothin’ goin’ right for me
Must be I been smoking…
Ain’t nothin’ goin’ right for me
Must be I been smoking too long.

© 1966 Robin Frederick. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


More versions of Been Smoking Too Long

Just came across this one by The Voodoo Fix. Great vocal, great feel!


Whitebrow: My personal fav, after Nick’s, of course.


Graham Coxon live at ICA: A great version from the brilliant Graham.


Placebo bootleg version. Yup, definitely been smoking too long.


Hederos & Helberg: Gorgeous, moody. Love it!


Ryan Spendlove: Watch the beer drinkers stop talking and turn to listen.


Dax Riggs: A hot live performance with the kind of party atmosphere it was written for!


Mudflow: Check out this great Chicago blues-style version from Swedish band Mudflow at MySpace. High energy and plenty of punch!


Here’s Lisa Stubbs…


Dale Miller is a superb guitar player and Alison Faith Levy’s vocals are right on target.


A chill version of Been Smoking Too Long by Miguel Varela (mp3 stream) Very nice!


C. Ashleigh Caldwell – Audio & album available at CDbaby.com. Bluesy and haunting.


Here’s Anat Navarro with a smokin’ piano/vocal track straight from the bedroom. Love the teddy bear in the background! He looks totally wiped. 🙂


There are many video versions of “Been Smoking Too Long.” Here’s a playlist full of them if you can stand more!

Robin Frederick


Robin Frederick is a professional songwriter, music producer and recording artist. Nick Drake’s recording of her song Been Smoking Too Long appears on the FAMILY TREE album. She is also a contributor to the album notes in the re-release of the FRUIT TREE box set and FAMILY TREE CD.

Over her 35 years in the music industry, Robin has written more than 500 songs for television, records, theater, and audio products. She is a former Director of A&R for Rhino Records , Executive Producer of 60 albums, and the author of “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting” and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV.”

Robin’s books are used to teach songwriting at top universities and schools in the U.S. They’re fun to read and filled with practical, real world information. Buy them at Amazon.com…

Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting

Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV