Well, more than a small dose of joy this week, with a bucketload of great songs suggested for a peachy subject – songs about marijuana / cannabis; getting it, losing it, buying it, selling it, nicking it – songs about the paraphernalia associated with it; songs about its illegality; songs about why it shouldn’t be. But, with a few exceptions, it's interesting just how many are chock full of optimism and good humour – and how many of the numbers highlight the pleasure of good company – not unlike the Song Bar itself. (I ask you – are there that many other places like this out there in the whole of www land)?
Roll up! The Rolling-Up A-List Playlist:
And speaking of good company, was there ever a more genial companion to enjoy a glass of red with and, possibly, some herbal accompaniment, than Mr Kevin Ayers. Kev's charm and generosity quickly works its magic on the huge and uptight barkeep in Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes:
“My oh my, I have suffered too long,
And this cigarette seems to be very strong;
The world is large, and I've got time yet.
And, by the way, thanks for that cigarette.”
Deceptively simple as ever, blending pop, psychedelia, and rockabilly and a lovely vocal that seems like it might have been quite an influence on Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. Helps somewhat to have harmony vocals from Robert Wyatt and guitar work from Mike Oldfield on there too.
Thank you very much!
Onwards with some sunshine pop from California. Along Comes Mary by The Association reached the US top 10 in 1966. The song no doubt chimed with a whole movement whose "tribulations no one ever sees" could at least be eased a little by saying hello to Mary. Outstanding handclaps!
From, appropriately enough, the Five Leaves Left album, Nick Drake's Thoughts of Mary Jane is up next. Producer Joe Boyd created the perfect studio environment for Nick to create something gentle, cool and shady amidst the celebratory sunshine of the late sixties. It was ignored of course. Amazing just how good his guitar playing was. Nommed by barbryn, with a helpful Andrew Morrissey supplying the link.
Stoned and Starving by Parquet Courts follows on.
“I was walking through Ridgewood, Queens,
I was flipping through magazines …”
But I suspect we've all been somewhere similar:
“Well, I was reading ingredients, asking myself 'should I eat this?'
… I was debating Swedish fish, roasted peanuts or liquorice.
I was so (stoned and starving) so stoned and starving.”
I saw them live a year or so ago and the whole set was as urgent, driving and breathless as this song is.
Two years after the mighty Two Sevens Clash, Culture came up with The International Herb album and this fabulous title track; jaunty, optimistic and deeply satisfying:
“It make I feel so groovy man; the international herb
It gives me inspiration in music man; the international herb.”
Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf was their highest charting single but only the full album version will do here– psychedelic hard rock with a great funky organ slab right in the middle. A couple of other Steppenwolf songs figured prominently in Easy Rider of course, but we’ll go with another selection from that later on I think …
On again to Eek-a-Mouse – Ganja Smuggling. From 1981’s peerless Wa-Do-Dem album comes a great number by the singjay whose early records were produced by his maths teacher and who called himself after his favourite race horse.
“One by one, load up the van, all of - a ganja it ram,
Put it on a plane, the weed gon' a Spain - money jus' a pour like rain,
Me jus' a mogel up the lane in a rolled gold chain,
Hey me an' me girl name Jane.”
Next up Don’t Bogart That Joint, or originally Don't Bogart Me, by Fraternity of Man, used unforgettably in Easy Rider. How can you not love a band so brilliantly, carelessly and hopelessly called Fraternity of Man? Nommed by Nicko and supported by tincanman, pointing out that the band itself lasted only about as long as a good fatty.
"Well I told you once and I told you twice… " No hang on, it’s actually The Stairs with Weed Bus, and a fantastic mash of The Last Time and any number of other mono British R'n'B' classics. Nommed by vanwolf2 and backed up by Shiv who points out that it’s named after the #147 ‘magic bus’ which used to travel an erratic course around Liverpool; "the 147 and you know you're in heaven". Like Beltway Bandit, I also rode this bus, if it’s the same one I remember, many times as a student there in the early 80s. The aim was to get off approximately in Upper Parliament Street in Liverpool 8 to visit the fabulously decrepit (back then), huge Victorian houses full of other students. The journey was rarely less than eventful; "Now it's time for me to get off, but I'm so stoned I missed my stop".
In my second year there I got fed up with taking the bus into town and falling asleep on it and bought an old bike instead. One night I’d had one too many and congratulated myself that having had to leave it locked up in the city centre, I’d at least chosen a fantastically secure and secret place. Hazy about just exactly where that was the next morning, I actually never found it ever again. There’s no reason to suggest that it’s not still there – I have the keys.
It's impossible I think not to include any of The Wailers for this topic, so here’s The Honourable Peter Tosh and the very first nom on Thursday, Legalize It. It's the title track from his astonishing debut and proof that "It's good for the flu, Good for asthma, Good for tuberculosis, Even numara thrombosis." And unicycling of course.
The Supremes - Stoned Love is a post-Diana Ross departure single featuring Jean Terrell on lead vocals, but as Shiv mentions, it doesn't show. Hmm, but wasn’t the original title of this Stone Love? – Like The Stylistics' "I'm Stone in Love with You"? I swithered here I have to admit, for all of the time it took me to listen through once again. Just gorgeous.
And so, essentially, to Bob Marley - but which one? Kaya I think, yes. Yes.
It’s probably obvious that I’ve not struggled that hard this week to avoid the opportunity to usher a good number of absolute classics into the Marconium. If I wanted them in the playlist and I loved them of course. So …The Byrds - Eight Miles High. It is essential that the original version of this masterpiece is zedded! McGuinn's twelve-string guitar motif, Chris Hillman's driving and hypnotic bass line and Crosby's chunky rhythm guitar are all astonishing in themselves - but together, on one song?!
Roger McGuinn: “No, no... it was Gene (Clark) asking 'How high do you think that plane was flying?' I thought about seven miles, but the Beatles had a song called Eight Days a Week, so we changed it to Eight Miles High because we thought that would be cooler.”
David Crosby: “Er, of course it’s a drug song.”
The Bhang-a-Bong B-list Playlist
Georges Garvarentz - Haschisch Party
Black Uhuru – Sensimilla
Bobby Darin - Me and Mr Hohner
Keith Hudson – Nuh skin up dub
Cab Calloway – The Reefer Man
Neil Young - Roll Another Number (For The Road)
Dub Syndicate - Stoned Immaculate
Barrington Levy - Under Mi Sensi
Joe Gibbs & The Professionals – The Marijuana Affair
Man - Bananas
Steel Pulse - Macka Splaff
Lindisfarne - Meet Me On The Corner
The Toyes - Smoke Two Joints
Guru’s Wildcard Pick:
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lookin' Out My Back Door
“Just got home from Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!
Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch,
Imagination sets in …”
Indeed it does, and now forevermore linked with that clip as well…
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Joint effort? Let's weed the stoned grass: songs about marijuana / cannabis. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.