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 cannabis 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 ultimate weed playlists and playlist that is great to light-up and relax to.
Music Playlist: Ode to Marijuana –Songs About Weed
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 that came out of the early jazz crowds. It was used to describe 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 narrow, 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 weed explanations. Cypress Hill has numerous songs about weed such as High Times, Insane in the Membrane, I Wanna Get High, Dr. Greenthumb, Stoned is the Way I Walk and many more. B-Real, a member of Cypress Hill has always been an advocate of legalizing marijuana. B-Real started the Cannabis Cup, a cannabis tradeshow and festival. B-Real was named High Times 2014 “Stoner of the Year”.
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 said he never developed drinking problems due in large part to muggles, a jazz slang for marijuana. He reportedly smoked three cigar-sized blunts every day of his life. The instrumental, Muggles was his first ode to marijuana—released in 1928.
Because I got High by Afroman
This 2001 hip-hop song takes you through the narrator’s life on how he ruined his life 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. The Afroman song released in July 30, 2001.
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
In the Streets by Big Star
In the Streets by Big Star is best known as the theme song for That 70s Show. Big Star is lead by Alex Chilton, who previously lead the band The Box Tops from 1967 to 1970. According to Songfacts, Alex Chilton ironically received $70 each time In the Streets played during the That 70s Show intro.
In the Street captures a slice of adolescent life. Cruising around in a car with a group of friends with nowhere to go and nothing to do. The teenage longing for weed or other intoxicants was simply sung “Wish we had a joint so bad”.
The Weed Song by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
The Weed Song is from the fourth album from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, BTNHResurrection. The album released on February 29, 2000. The song later appears on an all weed songs compilation album entitled For Smokers Only. The Weed Song is super relaxing to listen to due to the peaceful piano arrangement and vocal harmonizing.
If everybody smoked a blunt, relieved the mind, the world could be a better place.Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
One Toke Over the Line by Brewer & Shipley
One Toke Over the Line release 1971 and reached the top ten charts. According to brewerandshipley.com, the hit song was conceived in the dressing room of a coffee house while waiting to go on stage. Michael Brewer says”…we were real bored, sitting in the dressing room. We were pretty much stoned and all and Tom says, ‘Man, I’m one toke over the line tonight.’” Amused by the ‘toke’ reference, the duo started singing words back and forth to each other until the outline of a song evolved. We were literally just entertaining ourselves. Just making ourselves laugh, really.” The next day Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley got together to pick guitar and recalled the stoned song they composed. Within an hour the song was complete.
One Toke Over the Line received an FCC ban from Richard Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew. The Vice President claimed the song had subversive lyrics. Brewer & Shipley consider that ban a badge of honor.
Music Playlist: Get Stoned and Mellow Out
Music Playlist: Weed Songs of Jazz
2Edward Jablonski (1998), Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues, ISBN978-1-55553-366-3