Weed has long been a subject in American music. It became popular during the 20s and 30s in the jazz and blues genres. Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Harlem Hamfats, Benny Goodman and Tampa Red to list a few passionate marijuana smoking songwriters.
The tradition continues through American music to this day with Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog, Cypress Hill, Sublime and countless others. Listen to these curated playlists about weed and playlist that is great to light-up and relax to.
Songs about Marijuana
Mary Jane by Rick James – In the 1978 hit song, Rick James personifies marijuana as a sensual woman. The song peaked at #3 on the charts November 25, 19781.
If You’re A Viper by Fats Waller – A viper is a 1930s term used for someone who smokes marijuana. The term mentioned in countless jazz songs during this era compares a person taking a loud, rapid hit from a joint with stoned eyes to a hissing viper snake2.
Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – In interviews with The Heartbreakers, the band was elusive about the meaning of the song. Mary Jane’s Last Dance tells a story about a breakup or a rambling girl from Indiana. The chorus is where the marijuana reference comes from “Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain”. Open to interpretation.
Hits from the Bong by Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill needs no explanation.
Muggles by Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven – According to Biography.com, Louis Armstrong had a rough childhood. Armstrong was raised in New Orleans by his mother. His father abandoned the family and his mother turned to prostitution to support them. His mother supposedly taught him how to “drink like a man” in speakeasies3. Even though Armstrong drank at an early age and had a traumatic adolescent, he never developed drinking problems due to muggles, slang for marijuana. He reportedly smoked three cigar-sized blunts every day of his life. Muggles was his first ode to marijuana—released in 1928.
Because I got High by Afroman – This 2001 hip hop song is about all the things in the narrator’s life that was ruined due to smoking too much marijuana. But at the end of the song, he says he sang the whole song wrong because he was high.
Sweet Leaf by Black Sabbath – The song begins with what sounds like guitarist Tommy Iommi coughing from a harsh hit of weed. Sweet Leaf was released in July 1971. For most of the song, it sounds like the Ozzy Osbourne is singing about a lover, but in the second verse he sings “I love you sweet leaf though you can’t hear”
Rainy Day Women #12 & #35 by Bob Dylan – Is the opening track on the 1966 Blonde on Blonde album. The controversial line in the song, “Everybody must get stoned” is possibly about Dylan’s criticism from the limelight or it could be a pot reference. The musicians who recorded the sessions were told they had to be intoxicated to record the song. Most of the music drank alcohol and smoked a “huge amount” of marijuana according to Henry Strzelecki, who played in the session.
Everybody must get stonedBob Dylan
Illegal Smile by John Prine – Criminal penalties have always been severe for marijuana throughout American history, especially when Illegal Smile was released in 1971. John Prine sings about inexpensively escaping reality with smoking pot. The best lines in the song are “Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone. No I’m just tryin’ to have me some fun.”
Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone. No I’m just tryin’ to have me some fun.– John PRINE
Songs to get stoned and relax to
2Edward Jablonski (1998), Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues, ISBN978-1-55553-366-3