Everyone's taste in music is different, from rock to rap to folk to country to hip-hop. But one constant across nearly every genre, even jazz, is musicians professing their love of pot. A recent study shows that one in three popular songs mentions drugs or alcohol.
The humble weed has meant a lot to generations of musicians. As great American jazz man Louis Armstrong put it, “My memories will always be lots of beauty and warmth from grass. That was my life and I don't feel ashamed at all. Mary Jane, honey, you sure was good. …”
Here's our list of the top 20 songs for stoners, although there easily could be 420 selections. Any inadvertent omissions are, well, as Afroman sings, “because I got high.”
1. “Panama Red,” New Riders of the Purple Sage
Although opinions on the strain itself are divided, and it's not so easy to find these days, the song is a classic. The guitar picking and lyrics say it all: “Panama Red, Panama Red, He'll steal your woman, then he'll rob your head … My woman said, 'Hey Pedro, you're actin' crazy like a clown!' Nobody feels like working, Panama Red is back in town.”
2. “Eight Miles High,” The Byrds
Yes, flying used to be fun.
3. “Muggles,” Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra
Pre–Harry Potter, muggles, which is celebrated in this cool instrumental, meant marijuana. Time revealed on Sept. 7, 1931, “Ten cents' worth of a certain bird seed, planted in any back yard, will grow into a yardful of marijuana. Marijuana is a variety of hemp weed (Cannabis sativa) long common in Mexico, lately becoming common in the U.S. Its leaves can be dried, ground and rolled into cigarets, which are bootlegged under the name of 'muggles,' 'reefers' or 'Mary Warners.' ”
4. “Smoke Two Joints,” Sublime (also The Toyes)
An anthem, pure and simple. “I smoke two joints in time of peace, I smoke two joints in time of war.” This version starts with the sucking sound of a bong.
5. “The Joker,” Steve Miller
“I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker …”
6. “Because I Got High,” Afroman
The explanation for everything (with an assist from Jay and Silent Bob).
7. “Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35,” Bob Dylan
“Everybody must get stoned.” Why? Well, if you have to ask …
8. “Kaya,” Bob Marley
For Marley, marijuana was a sacrament. “Got to have kaya now (kaya, kaya), For the rain is fallin' … I feel so high, I even touch the sky, I feel so good, in my neighborhood …”
9. “Legalize It,” Peter Tosh
“Don't criticize. Legalize it. … That's the best thing you can do.”
10. “You Don't Know How It Feels,” Tom Petty
Censored by MTV and radio stations because of the repeated line, “Let's get to the point and roll another joint,” it still became a Top 10 hit. From the man behind “Mary Jane's Last Dance.”
11. “Mary Jane,” Rick James
The “Superfreak” author sings “I'm in love with Mary Jane. I'm not the only one. … She likes to spread her love and turn your head around.” As Chris Tucker says in Friday, “Man, there ain't nothing wrong with smoking weed. Weed is from the earth. God put this here for me and you. Take advantage, man. Take advantage.”
12. “Puff the Magic Dragon,” Peter Paul and Mary
They say it's just a wonderful, sing-along kids' song, but we know better.
13. “Gin and Juice,” Snoop Dogg
Despite the title, this song contains plenty of pot references, along with a badass beat. “Rollin' down the street, smokin' endo, sippin' on gin and juice, laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
14. “I Got Stoned and I Missed It,” Shel Silverstein
He's better known for Playboy cartoons, for writing “A Boy Named Sue” for Johnny Cash and for kids' books like Where the Sidewalk Ends. Yet Silverstein's tale, of losing out on money, sex and life in general because “I was stoned and I missed it,” will make you laugh.
15. “Reefer Man,” Cab Calloway
The elegant, white-suited Calloway and his orchestra illustrate the adventures of “that funny, funny reefer man … He trades two dimes for a nickel. … That cat's still high.”
16. “One Toke Over the Line,” Brewer & Shipley
The biggest hit pot song of the '70s got the duo on Richard Nixon's enemy list. The refrain almost anyone over 40 can sing on command: “One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line.”
17. “Pass the Dutchie,” Musical Youth
The lyrics were changed from the Mighty Diamonds' “Pass the Kouchie” (a marijuana pipe), probably so the cute British kids could sing them without obvious weirdness. Yet “dutchie” has come to refer to a Dutch Masters blunt. You know which side to pass it on.
18. “Ganja Bus,” Cypress Hill
Pick a song, any song. With Cypress Hill, you've scratched a potential pot classic, from “Stoned Is the Way of the Walk” to “Smoke Weed” or “Roll It Up, Light It Up, Smoke It Up” from Friday, one of the funniest pot films of all time. But we'll go with B-Real and Damian Marley's “Ganja Bus” for its hometown shout-out. “On the ganja bus, they comin' after us. We makin' stops all over Los Angeles.”
19. “Reefer Song,” Fats Waller
The “Ain't Misbehavin' ” piano man sings, “I dreamed about a reefer 5 feet long, you'll be high, but not for long. … You know you're high — when your throat gets dry.”
20. “Weed Got Me Crazy,” Tupac Shakur
“I feel crazy (I smoked half an ounce to the head),” Tupac sings. That would do it. But for something to make you sober up fast, consider that Tupac would have turned 40 this past September.