"The Pusher" is a rock song written by Hoyt Axton, made popular by the 1969 movie Easy Rider which used Steppenwolf's version to accompany the opening scenes of drug trafficking.
The lyrics of the song distinguish between a dealer in drugs such as marijuana—who "will sell you lots of sweet dreams"—and a pusher of hard drugs such as heroin—a "monster" who doesn't care "if you live or if you die".
The song was made popular when rock band Steppenwolf released a cover version of the song on their 1968 album Steppenwolf. When performing the song publicly in the late 1960s, the repeated lyric "God Damn" was often controversial, most notoriously in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where City officials attempted to force the band to use a euphemism (such as "Gosh darn") rather than the actual lyric. Though the band promised not to sing the line, at John Kay's urging, the audience obliged by loudly filling in the offensive words at the appropriate places in the song.
Organist Goldy McJohn, who recorded the original Steppenwolf version, said the version that appears on Early Steppenwolf performed by "Sparrow" (pre-Steppenwolf moniker) in 1967 at the Matrix came about when singer John Kay and Jerry Edmonton were late for a performance:
Nick and Mars and me started that long version of the Pusher. John and Jerry's flight was late one night at the Avalon Ballroom, so we started and then we perfected it at the "Arc" in Sausalito on New Year's Eve in 1966.