I’m going to ask you a straightforward question: isn’t it true that you have, perhaps unwillingly, acquired a certain habit through association with certain undesirable people? That’s a line from Reefer Madness, the cult classic from 1936. A cautionary tale about innocent high school students lured into sampling the evil weed, a tragic mistake that leads invariably to hit-and-run driving, manslaughter, rape, suicide, and a gradual descent into madness. The sweet pill that makes life bitter, the film’s poster said. Women cry for it, men die for it. On the other hand, I understand it makes good rope and that rhymes with dope. [“Marijuana! Marijuana, Exhibit A.”]
Compared to Reefer Madness, today’s batch of All Hand Rolled Vinyl takes the alternative view on the subject. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve never smoked it in your life — or if you did but you didn’t inhale. If you were listening to FM rock radio in its heyday, you can probably sing along with most of these songs. And by all means, feel free. And there’s no shortage of songs to choose from, in fact, due to time constraints we didn’t have room for some of our favorites like “I Got Stoned and I Missed It” and the rest of “Coming into Los Angeles.” And you know the chronic wasn’t just a popular subject for the rock and roll crowd. Those jazz guys got there first. Cab Calloway did “Reefer Man” in 1932, a good decade before any of the Classic Rock generation was even conceived. Fats Waller came out with “The Reefer Song” in 1943 the year Mick Jagger was born. We’re going to open and close the set with a funny little monologue that comes from Paul Davis’s album Southern Tracks and Fantasies, talking about the marijuana problem on the streets of Jackson, Mississippi. So from the Way Back Studios, light up or leave me alone, here’s a set that’s ghanja getcha.
|Paul Davis||Magnolia Blues (spoken intro only)|
|Brewer & Shipley||One Toke Over The Line|
|Jesse Winchester||Twigs and Seeds|
|John Prine||Illegal Smile|
|Fraternity of Man||Don’t Bogart Me|
|Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen||Stems and Seeds Again Blues|
|New Lost City Ramblers||Wildwood Weed|
|New Riders of the Purple Sage||Panama Red|
|Little Feat||Don’t Bogart That Joint|
|Paul Davis||Magnolia Blues (spoken outro only)|
She’s like a rainbow coming, colors in the air. Acapulco Gold. Angola black. Jersey green. Mexican brown. Tennessee blue. And of course Panama red. Doesn’t matter if you call ‘em left handed cigarettes or wacky tobaccy. That was a major cash crop of songs about the Wildwood Weed. Somewhere in that cloud of smoke we heard the New Lost City Rambler’s version of the Don Bowman/ Jim Stafford song with the happy ending. Those two guys sittin’ on that sack of seeds. Before that, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen all of whom had a bad case of the Stems and Seeds again Blues, that’s from Deep In The Heart of Texas. Earlier in the set, Jesse Winchester had a similar complaint about how the twigs and seeds just don’t deliver the punch that the old head needs. We opened and closed with the spoken word intro and outro to “Magnolia Blues” where that feller’s talking about the police not being able to control the marijuana on the streets of my home town, Jackson, Mississippi. That’s from Southern Tracks and Fantasies, an album by the late Paul Davis.
We followed that with Brewer & Shipley’s classic, “One Toke Over the Line” followed by Jonathan Edwards from his great debut album. Fill it, light it, shut up, and close the door. Let’s lay around the shanty and put a good buzz on. From the soundtrack to Easy Rider we heard “Don’t Bogart Me” by the Fraternity of Man, with a reprise of the chorus courtesy of Little Feat. And John Prine was in there with that “Illegal Smile” of his, from his debut album in 1971. Well, I think the pipe’s about out and so is our time. Thanks for listening, I’m Bill Fitzhugh and you can read all about it at billfitzhugh.com or look for me on Amazon or your favorite social media site. Either way, I’ll be back with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl before you know it. [TOKE] And I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.