1965 Mary Jane - Janis Joplin
Written by Janis and recorded in sessions held between January and April with the Dick Oxtot Oakland Athletics Jazz Band, this early song appears on the soundtrack to the film, Janis: "Now when I go to work, I work all day / Always turns out the same / When I bring home my hard-earned pay / I spend my money all on Mary Jane / Mary Jane, Mary Jane, Lord, my Mary Jane." Sigh. Lyric.
1965 Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan
Breezily rendered by The Byrds and bathetically by William Shatner, this song about a drugs come down is implicitly infused with pot consciousness: the answer that's blowing in the wind is that everybody must get stoned.
April, 1966 Rainy Day Women#12 & 35 by Bob Dylan
The opening track from Blonde On Blonde was an instant success when released as a single in the US, despite or because of being banned from the radio, reaching no 2 in May '66. The lyric reefers (sic) to marijuana, but the song is about persecution and its message straightforward: "I would not feel so alone / Everybody must get stoned". Covered by A Subtle Plague on Marijuana's Greatest Hits Revisited (Re-Hash Records, 1992) and by the Black Crowes on the first NORML Hempilation, in recent years the Zimmerman himself has taken to closing his set with 'Women which, his Bobness is quoted as saying in Absolutely Dylan (1991), 'happens to deal with a minority of cripples and orientals and the whole world in which we live'.
August 1966 Got to Get You Into My Life - The Beatles
Recorded in April, 1966, for inclusion on Revolver, Paul McCartney has described this Motown pastiche as "an ode to pot", albeit one disguised as a regular love song. Released as a single in the States in 1976, it reached #7 on Billboard chart and has been covered by artists including Johnny Halliday (Je Veux Te Graver Dans), The Four Tops on their 1969 album, Soul Spin and, in 1978, by Earth Wind & Fire in the Beatles movie tribute, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
April, 1967 Bass Strings by Country Joe & The Fish
Ominously recorded on 6.6.66 and released the following Spring on an EP of three songs as Country Joe & the Fish, this archetypal hippy ballad is better know in its more amped-up, psychedelic version from the first CJFish LP, Electric Music for the Mind and Body (Vanguard VSD 79244). Lyric.
May, 1967 Night Of The Long Grass - The Troggs
Trippy love song from the perpetrators of Wild Thing and the lead track from a hit EP early in the Summer of '67: "I walk alone in dreams / I cannot feel, I cannot see / The only thing I know is that / You're only real to me / I see your hair hang down around your shoulders and your collar / I lean your head upon a pillow made of leaves and straw / Night of the Long Grass / Night of the Long Grass / Night of the Long Grass." Lyric.
1967 Baby, You're a Rich Man - The Beatles
Recorded in just six hours on May 17, 1967, at Olympic Sound Studios in London, with Ringo's introductory drum roll added six weeks later, prior to the song's initial release as the flip side to that Summer's anthem, All You Need Is Love, this deceptively simple song is notable as one of Lennon & McCartney's last genuinely collaborative song-writing efforts and because it spontaneously captures the spirit of the times in lyrics which, taken out of context, seem practically meaningless: "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? / Tuned to a natural E / Happy to be that way / Now that you've found another key / What are you going to play?". The song features on The Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack. Lyric & RealAudio @ The Beatles Music.
1968 I Like Marijuana - David Peel & the Lower East Side
"First I sang about smoking bananas," says Peel. "That was a craze like the hula hoop. Then I started singing about marijuana. That was more permanent." Peel's contemporaneous pot-related song titles include, Legalize Marijuana, I've Got Some Grass, I Want To Get High, and Show Me The Way To Get Stoned. I like Marihuana was a highlight of his first Elektra album, Have a Marijuana, and was re-recorded with a band called the 360's in 1995 for the second NORML Hempilation.
1968 Talkin' Vietnam Pot Luck Blues - Tom Paxton
From folkie Tom's Elektra album, Morning Again, this is the tale of a fresh conscript on patrol in Vietnam, who detects a familiar smell when his platoon stop for the night: " Well I may be crazy, but I think not / I swear to God that I smell pot! / But who'd have pot in Vietnam?" / He said, "Whaddaya think you been sittin' on?" / These funny little plants..../ Thousands of them. / Good God Almighty! / Pastures of plenty!" To cut the story short, the platoon hook up with a squad of Vietcong, whose stash is "Straight from Uncle Ho's victory garden / We call it Hanoi Gold", they all get wasted, but "All too soon it was time to go / Captain got on the radio. / Said hello headquarters, headquarters/ We have met the enemy and they have been smashed." Lyric.
1968 Legend of the USS Titanic - Jaime Brockett
A couple of Boston folkies, Brockett and Chris Smithers, updated and extended an old Leadbelly talking blues to fill out 26 minutes on one side of Brockett's Captiol LP, Remember the Wind & the Rain. The Leadbelly song, dating back to around 1912, concerned Jack Johnson, a champion prizefighter of the time who was barred from travelling on the Titanic because he was black. In Brockett's version, the story begins with a guy working in a Mexican 'rope' factory, which one day burns down . He runs back inside to save his lunch and gets high on the fumes, and hungry, so that he then sits down (in the fire) to eat. Leaving the rope factory with a 'coil of rope' over his shoulder, our hero signs on as First Mate of the U.S.S. Titantic as, meanwhile, Jack Johnson is denied passage because of his race. Eventually, the First Mate turns the Captain on to smoking his rope and the two of them, stoned, miss a radio warning about an ice-berg... The ship sinks with all hands, leaving Jack Johnson safely on shore.
1968 Don't Step on the Grass, Sam - Steppenwolf
Written by John Kay for Steppenwolf's second Dunhill album, The Second, from the point of view of a guy watching a TV debate about marijuana, this song accuses self-righteous politicians - such as Sam - of "telling lies so long, some believe they're true." To Sam, grass is "evil, wicked, mean and nasty." The chorus responds, "Don't be such an ass, Sam." One of the highlights of the NORML Hempilation is a version cooked by Govt. Mule, the jammin' band led by guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody of the Allman Bros.
Just how little the situation regarding pot has changed in thirty years was made clear to John Kay in August, 1999, when he tried to cross the border into Canada while on tour. He'd recently been a guest on 'Politically Incorrect', with Bill Maher and after the broadcast, Todd McCormick, a friend of Maher's and a hemp advocate, gave him a copy of the Emperor of Hemp video and a copy of Hemp Life magazine. Kay says he took what McCormick gave him back to the East Coast and inadvertently left the material on the back of Steppenwolf's tour bus, where the book and video were discovered by Canadian customs officials when the band attempted to cross the border for a date in Ottawa. The "discovery resulted in a four-hour delay," says Kay, "complete with drug-dog inspection and dismemberment of both truck and bus interiors."
1969 Don't Bogart Me by Fraternity of Man
Written by Elliot Ingber and performed by his group, Fraternity of Man, on the soundtrack to Easy Rider, this song became better known as Don't Bogart That Joint, a rousing live favourite at Little Feat shows through the Seventies: "Roll another one / Just like the other one / This one's burnt to the end / Come on and be a friend...etc." It was originally included on the live double album, Waiting For Columbus in 1978, but there wasn't enough space to fit it on the CD reissue, so Warner Bros tacked it on to the end of the The Last Record Album CD from 1975 along with another 'bonus' live track, Apolitical Blues. Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise perform a version on Hempilation 2
1969 Indian Rope Man (African Herbsman) - Ritchie Havens
A track from his double album, Richard P. Havens 1983 that came out in the same year as Woodstock, where Havens' career received a tremendous fillip, Indian Rope Man was also released on a single in the US by Verve, on the flip side of a version of Strawberry Fields Forever. However, the song achieved immortality in 1970 when reworked by Lee 'Scratch' Perry and recorded by Bob Marley & The Wailers as African Herbsman, in which version it's also been covered by Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers on their 1993 album, Joy and Blues. Lyric to African Herbsman.
1969 I Want To Take You Higher - Sly & The Family Stone
Written by Sylvester Stewart in 1968 for his fourth Epic album, Stand!, probably the most memorable performance of this song is preserved on the Woodstock movie and soundtrack album. It charted twice in the US, reaching #60 as the B-side of Stand! in 1969 and #38 when released as a single in its own right in June the following year. It's given a typically jammed-out treatment by Bobby Sheehan's Blues Traveller on the first NORML Hempilation.
1969 Coming Into Los Angeles - Arlo Guthrie
From folkie Arlo's album, Running Down The Road, this song became a live favourite for the group, America, and is included on a collection of their live recordings, Heard. It's about a smuggler flying into LA: "Coming into Los Angeles / Bringing in a couple of keys / Don't touch my bags if you please, Mister Customs Man..." Lyric.
1969 Okie From Muskogee - Merle Haggard
Assisted by band member Eddie Burris, the Hag. ventured into the arena of social commentary in this #1 song, released during the height of national conflict over the Vietnam war: "We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee / We don't take our trips on LSD / We don't our burn draft cards down on Main Street / We like living right and being free." Lyric
1969 Stoned Woman - Ten Years After
Alvin Lee's band broke through in '69 with their first album of all original material, Stonedhenge and followed it up in the same year with perhaps their greatest statement, Shhh an album of psychedelic blues that includes this song, built around a monstrous, distorted bass riff: "She gonna love him, stoned out of mind all the time / She gonna keep him, stoned out of his mind all the time / She don't see nothing / She just has loving and she keeps on puffing all the time." Lyric