Here we are, back again with anotherround of cannabis-inspired tunes for your swell, swole playlist. By all means, keep the suggestions coming. Forever.
Buck Washington, “Save the Roach for Me” (1944): With a name like Buck Washington, you just know this man delivers the goods—literally. He is not to be confused with Buck Johnson, who has done a ton of songs for Disney teen movies, but you’re free to pretend if you want to. Actually, given the horseplay and tomfoolery that many child stars have been known to get into, it’s probably not that far-fetched to imagine aging Mouseketeers lounging with some elderly bluesman, extoling the virtues of second-hand smoke. Stranger things have happened (in some cases, recently).
Led Zeppelin, “Going to California” (1971): You could write a whole column (indeed, a whole book) about this band’s unique contributions to drug culture, but much of the material could not be printed in a family publication like Folio Weekly. “Spent my days with a woman unkind / Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine” is one of the great rhyming couplets of the era, in a song that’s kind of a gentle breeze amidst the hurricane-force sonic attack of Zeppelin’s infamous fourth album. Surely thousands of joints have been rolled on the album cover, followed by increasingly unhinged speculation about what it all means, man. As it turned out, California did become a home away from home for the band, but it was in Seattle where the real debauchery occurred. No comment on that.
Black Sabbath, “Sweet Leaf” (1971): Stop. Right now. Put this paper down, and boot up your computers. Go to YouTube and watch Black Sabbath’s gig at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, recorded on Dec. 20, 1970. I simply cannot express my love for this performance without using lewd emojis. Witness one of the most important bands of all-time at their absolute peak. The British rock scene was all about the heavy blues in those days, and arguably no one—not even the mighty Zep—got quite as heavy as Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. The coal dust of Birmingham is sediment in the grooves in the vinyl. The first and best song on Master of Reality, “Sweet Leaf,” is an oddly beautiful love song to cannabis, written at a time when that (and whiskey) were Ozzy’s only real vices. All of that would change, quickly, and the rest is history, but my gosh, what a run they had!
Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau, “Pakalolo” (1978): This band dominated the Hawaiian music scene in the 1970s and ‘80s. The ensemble is best-known as the original band of Israel “Bruddah Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole (1959-1997), whose iconic version of “Over the Rainbow” is guaranteed emotion-bait, on par with the Jeff Buckley version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The title is Hawaiian slang for marijuana, and the song would have been familiar to future president Barack Obama, who spent much of his early life there. He was a high school junior at the time of the tune’s release. His high school crew was called the Choom Gang, which is also slang for marijuana. In fact, next time you’re lined up for one of his book signings (which will never, ever stop) just chant “pakalolo” at him. That wry, knowing smirk he gives you right before you’re forcibly removed from the room will be a truly priceless memory, guaranteed.