8. “I Got 5 on It”
Method Man and Redman
6. “Hits from the Bong”
22. “How High”
Potency: FIVE. Though it only has a few literal weed references, this mid-’90s rap gem was the original theme song for one of the greatest stoner music duos to date, Method Man & Redman. To witness them perform it in concert is to see burly security guards hopelessly attempt to put out dozens of simultaneously lit-up joints.
Most Smokin’ Lyric: “Yeah I know your baby mama fond of me/ All she want to do is smoke that broccoli.”
Potency: SEVEN. Not only is Sean Paul clear of his love for blazin’ on “Burnin'” — he sets that love to a dancehall beat we can get down too. Paul’s “We Be Burnin'” spent a full 28 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 6.
Most Smokin’ Lyric: “Still it, goes down smooth when I get a clean hit/ Of the skunky, funky, smelly green sh*t/ Sing my song, puff all night long/ As I take hits from the bong. ”
It's hard to imagine that Bob Dylan, Three 6 Mafia and Toby Keith have much in common, but all three artists understand the power of a classic stoner track.
From Louis Armstrong to Lady Gaga, countless musicians have gone on record about their love for weed. Smoking can help with creativity, aid in relaxation, even expand the mind. But some artists take the practice even further, going out of their way to write musical odes to the sticky green stuff, whether it’s coded as a love interest – see the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” or D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar – or right there in the name, like Afroman’s “Because I Got High.” No matter how you roll it, songs about pot keep the party going in any genre. Here are the 20 best weed-themed songs of all time.
Marley followed up 1977’s landmark Exodus – an album focused on religion, politics and faith – with an album that was decidedly more laid-back in temperament. And nowhere was this more evident than on Kaya‘s title track, an ode to chasing away the rain (both literal and metaphorical) with a bit of the titular plant (“kaya,” Marley once explained, is Jamaican slang for “herb”). Over a lilting rhythm, Marley essentially wakes and bakes, and before long declares that he is “feeling irie” (Rastafari for “good”). Why? “Because I have some kaya now.”
“What am I without herb, and what is herb without me?” Peter Tosh asked Rolling Stone in 1981, a rhetorical question if there ever was one. Certainly, marijuana had no greater reggae proponent in the Seventies and Eighties than the former Wailer, who launched his solo career in 1975 with this legalization anthem, which includes the decades-ahead-of-its-time assertion that ganja is “good for tuberculosis.” Tosh’s 1976 album of the same name had the additional stoner cachet of being bankrolled by a marijuana distributor. “He approached a pot dealer in Miami to invest in the album, and the dealer agreed,” reggae historian Roger Steffens told NPR in 2011. “He said, ‘So what are you gonna call it?’ And Peter said, ‘I’m gonna call it Legalize It.’ And the dealer got really upset and said, ‘No, man, you’re gonna put me out of business!’ But eventually he changed his mind and gave Peter the money.”
L.A.-based folkies Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley scored a surprise Top 10 hit in the spring of 1971 with this catchy little ditty – often introduced in concert as “our cannabis spiritual” – about waiting for a train while being more than slightly baked. “One day we were pretty much stoned and all,” Brewer told Rolling Stone in April 1971, “and Tom says, ‘Man, I’m one toke over the line tonight.’ I liked the way it sounded and so I wrote a song about it.” The song might have risen even higher in the charts if the FCC hadn’t suddenly stepped in with a helpful reminder to U.S. radio programmers regarding the actual meaning of “toke” – a term apparently still relatively obscure at the time among non-tokers, given that TV’s ultra-wholesome The Lawrence Welk Show didn’t think twice about featuring the song on their program.
Let’s be honest: At one time or another, we’ve all been Tony Iommi at the beginning of “Sweet Leaf,” hacking away in agonized bliss after a particularly large hit. The Sabbath guitarist’s tape-looped cough serves as the perfect segue into the song’s iconic sludgy riff (a riff that, it should be noted, later popped up everywhere from the Beastie Boys’ “Rhymin’ and Stealin’ ” to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away”). Reportedly, the song’s title was nicked from a brand of Irish cigarettes that touted its product as “the sweet leaf,” but it’s Ozzy’s words that best capture the youthful excitement of a new, yet sadly unrequited, love: “I love you sweet leaf,” he sings, “though you can’t hear.”
“I never have and never will write a drug song,” Bob Dylan famously announced during his legendary performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall in May 1966, but that hasn’t stopped several generations of dope smokers from adopting the lead track from Blonde on Blonde (which also hit Number Two on the Billboard singles chart in the spring of ’66) as an anthem. The song’s woozy chorus of “Everybody must get stoned!” is obviously responsible, along with the claim that “rainy day woman” is old-school weed-head slang for a joint – though some new-school stoners will also helpfully point out that 12 times 35 equals 420, maaan. The Mighty Zimm, however, continues to insist that the stoning in question was Biblical, not herbal. “It doesn’t surprise me that some people would see it that way,” he told Rolling Stone in 2012. “But these are people that aren’t familiar with the Book of Acts.”
This sunny, soulful track from 1966’s Revolver LP is generally thought of as one of the Fab Four’s many upbeat love songs – but according to Paul McCartney, the love object in this particular instance is a weed, not a woman. “‘Got to Get You into My Life’ was one I wrote when I had first been introduced to pot,” he told Barry Miles for the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now. “I’d been a rather straight working-class lad but when we started to get into pot it seemed to me to be quite uplifting. It didn’t seem to have too many side effects like alcohol or some of the other stuff, like pills, which I pretty much kept off. I kind of liked marijuana. I didn’t have a hard time with it and to me it was mind-expanding, literally mind-expanding. So ‘Got to Get You Into My Life’ is really a song about that, it’s not to a person, it’s actually about pot. It’s saying, ‘I’m going to do this. This is not a bad idea.’”
Cocaine may indeed be a helluva drug, as Rick James memorably attested on Chappelle’s Show, but the man clearly had a prodigious appetite for the sticky green stuff, as well. “I have to buy marijuana,” James told Rolling Stone in 1982, at the height of his fame. “I don’t buy ounces, I buy pounds.” A Number Three R&B hit in the fall of 1978 – but only making it to Number 41 on the pop chart, probably because the song’s message was too blatant for many radio programmers – “Mary Jane” is sensimilla-infused soul of the highest order. James would often perform the song onstage flanked by two gigantic fake joints, and punctuate the lyrics by taking exaggerated hits off a real one. Coolio, who obviously understood where James was coming from, would sample the song on “(I’m in Love With) Mary Jane,” recorded for the soundtrack of the 1998 stoner comedy Half-Baked .
From Dylan and the Beatles to Afroman and Snoop – with a little bit of Willie sprinkled on top – the best songs for stoners of all stripes
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