Billy Strings ‘Dust in a Baggie’: Lyrics & Story Behind the Song

by Clayton Edwards
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(Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

If you listen to Billy Strings there’s a good chance “Dust in a Baggie” was one of the first songs that you heard from him if not the first. The blazing-fast bluegrass tune about the trials and tribulations that come with methamphetamine addiction is still one of his most popular songs. For many, it was their gateway to bluegrass and country music. Right now, it’s sitting at over 13 million streams on Spotify alone.

Most of Billy Strings’ fans have seen the video of him playing “Dust in a Baggie” on a couch. His buddy recorded that video at a party in 2012. It didn’t take long for Strings to release the song to the world. He included it on the 2013 collaboration album with Don Julin titled Rock of Ages. Later, Billy released it on his self-titled EP in 2016.

“Dust in a Baggie”

  • Best Lines: I ain’t slept in seven days, haven’t ate in three. / Methamphetamine has got a damn good hold on me.”; My life is a disaster, Lord and I feel so ashamed/ In here where they call me by a number, not a name.”; “I took that little pipe and sucked until my mind was spun / I got 20 years to sit and think of what I’ve done.”
  • Release Date: December 31, 2013
  • Written By: William Apostol (Billy Strings)
  • Produced By: Don Julin

Billy Strings Discusses “Dust in a Baggie”

Back in 2020, Billy Strings discussed the story behind “Dust in a Baggie” on Walking the Floor with Chris Shiflett. Some might be surprised to find out that the song is based on a true story. However, it wasn’t Billy doing time for the devil’s dandruff. “It was actually about this fella that I knew,” he said. “He went to prison and got out. Next thing you know, he went right back.”

What sent the guy back to prison? A small amount of meth. “I’m talking less than a quarter of a gram,” Strings said.  “Like, just dust in the bottom of a baggie. Sent him back for like 20 years or something.”

Billy Strings went on to say that seeing the guy go back to prison so fast hurt. “It sucked because when he got out I was like, ‘Man, you’re out. You’ve been in there for like five years or something. You’re out and I’m proud of you. Let’s get your life back on track,’ ya know? It was like a month or two later and he was gone back.”

“One day,” he recalled, “the inspiration just struck to write that song.”

Write What You Know

Billy Strings shows his traditional bluegrass background with “Dust in a Baggie.” However, its subject matter put some traditional bluegrass fans on edge. Strings said that the song is all about a guy who ruined his life and he’s sitting in prison wondering where he went wrong. However, he said that some traditional bluegrass folks heard it and thought, “Oh he just writes a song singin’ about meth.”

Billy Strings said that “Dust in a Baggie” isn’t any different than traditional bluegrass songs about the bottle ruining your life. “It’s the exact same thing,” he said. “I just used something I was used to instead of moonshine or whatever. My dad’s not a coal miner. I grew up in Ionia [Michigan], a little prison town. So that’s what I knew about.”

Billy Strings “Dust in a Baggie” Lyrics

[Verse]
I ain’t slept in seven days, haven’t ate in three
Methamphetamine has got a damn good hold of me
My tweaker friends have got me to the point of no return
I just took the lighter to the bulb and watched it burn

[Chorus]
This life of sin has got me in
Well, it’s got me back in prison once again
I used my only phone call to contact my daddy
I got 20 long years for some dust in a baggie

[Verse]
Well, if I would have listened to what mom and papa said
I wouldn’t be locked up in prison, troubled in the head
Took that little pipe and sucked until my mind was spun
I got 20 years to sit and think of what I’ve done

[Chorus]
This life of sin has got me in
Well, it’s got me back in prison once again
I used my only phone call to contact my daddy
I got 20 long years for some dust in a baggie

[Verse]
Sometimes, I sit and wonder where my little life went wrong
These old jailhouse blues have got me singing this old song
My life is a disaster, Lord and I feel so ashamed
In here where they call me by a number, not a name

[Chorus]
This life of sin has got me in
Well, it’s got me back in prison once again
I used my only phone call to contact my daddy
I got 20 long years for some dust in a baggie

[Outro]
Used my only phone call to contact my daddy
I got 20 long years for some dust in a baggie

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