FMF Episode #34 – 420

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DJ:  Reefer.  Dope.  Grass. Pot.  Weed.  Ganja.  Marijuana.  The only plant to have more pseudonyms than an author.  Welcome to another round of Feel Me Flow; an episode focused on that contact high.  Today is April 20th, or as stoners across the world know it as; 4/20.  The origins of the number and it association have been long debated, but it seems the world is ready to settle on its history.  According to story, five guys at San Rafael high school wanted to find a stash of pot plants for harvest that they heard about via a treasure map from some brothers they knew.  Where does the number come from then?  They’d meet outside the school to go hunting at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 PM.  “4:20 Louis” was code for meeting and smoking, and after a while it was shortened.  To this day, 420 is incredibly recognizable as the number representing marijuana.  We decided we’d join in the rotation and feature an episode of marijuana songs, or songs about being stoned, or high, or just a slight lyrical reference here or there.  We could’ve done ten episodes on this, there are so many damn songs about pot!  Later in the episode is a double Set 4 Score mixed in with an all Minnesotan artist set.  We’ll even dabble in some Smash Mouth just for fun, only to find ourselves left with only seeds and stems.

Starting us off is a double-shot of The Rolling Stones.  The b-side to their early 1963 single “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, “Stoned” is nearly an instrumental track save for the word stoned every once in a while.  We’ll get the Stones to kick it off in Set 1 with “Rip This Joint” from their incredible double LP Exile On Main St..  The album was recorded in France because the Stones were feeling “exiled” from the UK at the time.  Well, tax evasion might do that to you.

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DJ:  Yeah, that song is totally about growing a pot plant and hiding it.  I mean they’re called The Smoke.  The album is It’s Smoke Time, and the song’s chorus is “high in a room in a house in a square there’s some happiness”.  The Smoke had one big hit from that 1967 album.  “High In A Room” served as a minor follow-up single to “My Friend Jack”; which is almost certainly about LSD.  These guys partied.

Speaking of other hard drugs,  the world lost Bradley Nowell to a heroin overdose in 1996.  One week after getting married, and two months before their absolute smash of an album Sublime came out.  Bradley also just turn 28 three months prior, missing that oh-so-dreaded 27 club, but still succumbing to the rock star lifestyle.  Sublime was an amazing band with their toes constantly in the sand and had a bright future ahead of them.  Tragic, indeed.  We played “Let’s Go Get Stoned” from the band’s official debut album 40oz. To Freedom.  That album featured 6 covers from all kinds of genres including one of their most famous covers; “Smoke Two Joints” by The Toyes which we heard prior.

The Toyes recorded their big hit in 1983 with a low budget and pressed 500 discs immediately afterward.  While based in Hawaii at the time, the band managed to build an island following for the track which helped lead to its eventual radio play and success.  The Toyes are based in Grants Pass, Oregon now, home of Dutch Brothers Coffee.  Pass the dutchie!

Moving to the East Coast now, Vermont specifically.  King Tuff is a standard at the FMF offices; along with other modern staples like Jay Reatard and Ty Segall.  King Tuff (Kyle Thomas), played guitar in Ty’s backing band The Muggers for the album Emotional Mugger and Ty actually played drums on King Tuff’s “Black Moon Spell”.  We played a song from King Tuff’s sophomore self-titled 2012 release.

Coming up in our next set, we’ve got The Stairs starting off a bit of a party set.  The Stairs were formed in the very late 80s by Edgar “Summertyme” William Jones with the intent of playing music influenced by  The 13th Floor ElevatorsThe SeedsThe Chocolate Watch Band as well as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  They released a few EPs and one fantastic rare LP Mexican R’n’B in 1992.  From that debut, let’s hear “Weed Bus”.

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DJ:  Now there’s an idea we could all live by.  “Champagne when I’m thirsty, reefer when I want to get high.”  McKinley Morganfield AKA Muddy Waters played us a track from his final album.  Muddy had been declining in health when the 80s rolled in and slowed down immensely.  He performed at the Checkerboard Lounge in 1981 and had The Rolling Stones guest as his band at times.  The Stones released that live DVD in 2012 with an accompanying LP.  Muddy would die in 1983 of a heart failure on April 30th.  Born April 4th and died April 30th, how fitting is it that a man named Muddy Waters’ life revolved around the month of rain showers?  We here at Feel Me Flow officially claim April as Muddy Waters Month.

Swedish garage rockers Caesars played “Strawberry Weed” before Muddy closed out the set.  That track is amazing and we sure could use some more music from them, its been ten years!

Band Of Horses isn’t waiting to release new music by any means.  They put out Why Are You OK in 2016, their fifth LP in 10 years.  We took “Weed Party” from their debut LP Everything All The Time.  

Shel Silverstein was a genius of a writer.  Not only were his poems and lyrics clever, but most of them could be adapted for use with children’s books which he ended up doing.  Without Shel Silverstein, you wouldn’t have Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show, nor would you have the handful of tracks that Johnny Cash would cover; including the smash hit “A Boy Named Sue”.  From his 1972 album in which Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show covered the title track, we played “Freakin’ At The Freakers Ball”.

It’s time for some soul music.  Chicago natives JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound have built a great local and national following in over the last 11 years.  Their first single was a soul cover of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”, a tune written by fellow Chicago band Wilco.  From the same album, Want More, here’s “I Got High”.

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DJ: We hope to see the day come where a pusher man is no longer relevant, but sadly doubt it.  If you can’t get your fix from your local doctor or market, you may have to find a pusher man, or as like the kids on the street these days call them; a dealer.  Curtis Mayfield’s perfection of a soundtrack to the 1972 blaxpolitation film Super Fly was one of the early soul-concept albums, specifically political.  Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On and Isaac Hayes’ Shaft soundtrack had both been released the year prior, and Shaft the movie was actually directed by Gordon Parks.  Gordon’s son, Gordon Jr. would direct Super Fly the following year.

Los Angeles psychedelic throwbacks Chicano Batman offered up a smoother than red and yellow honey cover of Laura Nyro’s “Stoned Soul Picnic”.  I know what you’re thinking, “I thought that was The 5th Dimension”.  Me too, friend-o!  Laura actually wrote that and released it the same year as The 5th Dimension, but they would see the single succeed far more than her album would.  Chicano’s cover came from their sophomore released Cycles Of Existential Rhyme.

Sandwiched inside of that smooth soul set we had Parquet Courts and Ryan Adams.  Parquet Courts played a perfectly repetitive ode to the munchies with “Stoned And Starving”.  The band released their debut album American Specialties initially on cassette only to “force you to be patient and digest what you’re listening to”.  It later saw a vinyl release.

After over half a decade with Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams decided to go it alone.  He released his solo debut Heartbreaker in 2000 and thus began a long string of fantastic Americana albums, one of which was a Taylor Swift cover album.  From Heartbreaker, we heard “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)”.

Alright, so our next set is something a little different.  Not only does it include a double Set 4 Score, not only does it include five songs themed to marijuana, but we’ve also picked five Minnesota-based artists  Born in Aitkin, Minnesota in 1946, Jonathan Edwards would move with his family to Virginia in the early 50s.  After playing music throughout the 60s in Boston, he would eventually release a solo self-titled debut in 1971.  “Sunshine” the lead single, would go on to sell over a million copies and be certified gold by the R.I.A.A. in January 1972.  From that same debut, here’s his ode to layin’ around and getting high; “Shanty”.

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DJ: I wonder if Jerry ever envisioned “Truckin'” being played in such a way.  Kudos to Marijuana Deathsquads for truly making the song their own.  The Grateful Dead tribute box set Day Of The Dead featured artist like The National, The War on Drugs, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, The Flaming Lips and a plethora of indie rock artists worth their weight in gold.  Marijuana Deathsquads started as in 2009 as one of many side projects between the Minneapolis collective of artist interloped within the indie, hip-hop and punk rock scene.  The band Gayngs consists of 20+ members of this scene, including P.O.S, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Dessa, Har Mar Superstar, and many more.

Sonny Knight & The Lakers was a superlative soul band that fit right in with the soul explosion of the 2010s  Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, and Sonny Knight acted like a trifecta of incredible talent, bringing soul music back into the spotlight.  Tragically, all three of them died within a year of each other.  Sharon in November 2016, Sonny in June 2017, and Charles in September.  What a crushing blow to the soul world!

On a lighter note, we heard Dylan scream “everybody must get stoned” in his album opener from Blonde On Blonde.  That song has been a stoner anthem for over 50 years!

Before Bob, we had Matty Chindler and Faux Jean.  Faux Jean spent the 2000s putting out garage rock with a pop and lo-fi/psychedelic twist.  We were treated to a documentary about the band titled History In The Faking back in 2012, a film compiled of footage from shows focused on the latter years and recording of their final album.  Faux Jean played us “Drunk & Stoned” from their sophomore LP Dead Lover.

So, speaking of garage pop.  Remember Smash Mouth? Of course, you do.  Everyone know’s “All Star”.  I’m here to stake a claim that their sophomore LP Astro Lounge is actually pretty legit if you’re into garage pop.  It’s super polished and bright, which is like the antithesis of garage rock, but the riffs and instruments are absolutely on point.  The artwork is apt as hell too, looking like a retro-futuristic building plucked out of The Jetsons, it shows the cleanliness of a Utopian future mixed with the sound of the 60s.  I’d love to hear a full album rework of this done by someone.  Anyway, from the 1999 smash album from Smash Mouth, here’s “Stoned”.

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DJ: Another one of those classic “stoner” songs from Black Sabbath, that was “Sweet Leaf”.  You can hear guitarist Tony Iommi coughing in the intro of the song from a joint that Ozzy brought him in the studio.  According to the band, they recorded the song while high on grass.  The title comes from a pack of Irish cigarettes (Sweet Afton) whose tagline was “It’s the sweetest leaf that gives you the taste.”

Rikky Gage released the first Free Weed LP in 2015 under Bad Diet Records.  Rikky’s been described as The Dude of rock n’ roll, if you replaced the robe with a denim vest, the White Russian with a  Jaegerbomb, and bowling with music (nice work, Yasi).  It’d be a damned travesty to not feature this band today.  Garage rock with a marijuana theme?  This is literally what they’re all about.  Hardly Art musician Colleen Green joined Free Weed on the track “Marijuana”.

If you’re a Jack White fan, you may have recognized his voice in the background of that track by The Go.  Jack played lead guitar on The Go’s first LP, Whatcha Doin’ back in 1999 before The White Stripes had released their debut.  Obviously a fan of the blues and garage rock, Jack fit in well with The Go and it helped launch a very successful career.  We heard “You Can Get High” from The Go’s debut.

We heard Weezer before The Go.  Apparently, Weezer’s very first gig had Dogstar opening for them.  You know, Keanu Reeves’ band?!  I couldn’t imagine playing my very first gig as a band and seeing Ted “Theodore” Logan jamming bass during the opening set.  Weezer’s music seems to have been “declining in heavy” over the years, with their debut being one of the rawest sounds they’ve produced.  On their last effort, Pacific Daydream, the band moved to a more pop/radical sound than previous efforts.  In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, singer Rivers Cuomo explained that he kept an archive of song ideas and hired programmers to organize a spreadsheet of lyric snippets by beats per minute, syllable, and key to call from whenever stuck.  I mean, as much as it goes against an “organic” song creation process, I kinda love that.

Our last set has “dad rock record collection” written all over it; if that dad had great taste!  We’ll start off with two classic rock tracks about a joint, dip into David Peel’s obsession with pot, get funky with that “cheeba cheeba”, and finally be left with nothing but seeds and stems again.  Sounds like an awesome Saturday night!  Taken from Neil Young’s 6th LP Tonight’s The Night.  Apparently, Neil wrote the album after the deaths of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and Young’s friend and roadie Bruce Berry.  You can definitely hear the somberness in his voice throughout the recordings.  The album is raw as hell and brings you down into that dark world of sorrow and drugs leaving you feeling a bit bummed out.  Sometimes, though, we need that.  So let’s roll another number for the road…

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DJ:  Ask any pot smoker how it feels to be down to seeds and stems and you’ll get to hear a little blues ditty.  That is, of course, unless you live somewhere that isn’t so gung-ho about reefer madness.  Believe it or not, some people feel that this plant isn’t worth banning!  From the 1971 debut of Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen, we heard “Seeds And Stems (Again)”.

Guitarist George Benson was a household name in the late 70s.  His 1976 album Breezin’ went triple platinum and featured the single “This Masquerade” written by the legendary Leon Russell, which George won a Grammy for Record Of The Year.  That same year, George teamed up with Willis Jackson and Ann Winley and released a self-titled mini album under the name Harlem Underground.  We played “Smokin’ Cheeba Cheeba”, a cool 7-minute+ jam about the theme of the episode from that Harlem Underground EP.

No stranger to the show, David Peel & The Lower East Side rolled in with a track from David’s recent pot tribute album Give Hemp A Chance.  David eventually met John Lennon and John became of fan of his, even producing his third LP The Pope Smokes Dope.  David endured a long career of music and was a huge advocate of marijuana legalization.  With his final release in 2015, he borrowed from his pal John’s “Give Peace A Chance” to name the album.  David died in April last year after suffering a series of heart attacks.

On that note, we lost another legalization advocate and musician last year to a heart attack, though in the case the cause was fentanyl (just like Prince).  I’m talking, of course, about Tom Petty.  Tom wrote more than one lyric referencing or at least alluding to pot and the ritual of smoking it.  It’s just such a bummer we lost him so early.  “You Don’t Know How It Feels” from the amazing 1994 solo album Wildflowers played after Neil started things off.

Well, everyone, thanks for jumping into the rotation!  It’s been a pleasure, now go grab those munchies!  Join us next time on Feel Me Flow!

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3 thoughts on “FMF Episode #34 – 420

    1. Thank you! Each episode is usually 37 songs, 6 sets of 5 songs with an intro, outro, and intermissions in between. Enjoy!

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