Reefer Madness: The Musical!

You think pop music does nothing but glamorize marijuana? Think again: The Fix selects 10 smokin' songs that highlight the pitfalls of pot.

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Title: 
Underachievement
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Afroman: Because I Got High

The Daddy of marijuana-consequence songs. If Afroman hadn't sparked up, he would have cleaned his room, passed his class (with the help of a little cheating), and excelled at work and in the bedroom. Not to mention saving his financial situation, his marriage, his health and his car: all-in-all, a pretty momentous day of achievement. But he didn't do any of that, "Because I got high." Still, at least he wrote a massive 2001 hit.

 

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Title: 
Domestic Discord
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Amy Winehouse: Addicted

Things have gone badly wrong in one smoke-filled shared household—this track from Amy's 2006 album Back to Black begins like an irate note stuck to the fridge: "Tell your boyfriend, next time he around / To buy his own weed and don't wear my shit down." It proceeds to strike a threat-filled bargain with the offending roommate—"bring me a bag and your man can come back"—promising to screen the light-fingered lover at the door to "make sure he got green." The song also boasts an inventive rhyme for the word "addicted."

 

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Title: 
Passing Out
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Toby Keith: Weed With Willie

This fondly-sung anecdote of biting off more than you can smoke in the company of Willie Nelson, from the 2003 album Shock'n Y'all, begins in curious vein: "I always heard that his herb was top-shelf / And Lord I just could not wait to find out for myself." But before long, "...we learned a hard lesson in a small Texas town / He fired up a fat boy and he passed it around / The last words I spoke before they tucked me in / ...I'll never smoke weed with Willie again." Which seems like a conclusion well-reached, although Keith doesn't rule out "a great contact high" the next time he smells Nelson coming.

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Title: 
Trouble With the Law (Minor)
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Supergrass: Caught By The Fuzz

This manic 1994 debut single for the Britpoppers recounts the real-life tale of frontman Gaz Coombes' arrest and police caution for marijuana possession at the age of 15. A bad situation—"Caught by the fuzz / Well I was still on a buzz / In the back of the van / With my head in my hands"—soon gets a whole lot worse: "Here comes my mum / Well she, she knows what I've done." It's a track with the ring of truth—not just for the details of the story but for the breathless, frantic depiction of being a teenager.

 

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Title: 
Trouble With the Law (Major)
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Cypress Hill: Insane In The Brain

The hip hop legends responsible for that song-slash-instruction manual "Hits From The Bong" may not have dissuaded many people from taking up the herb. But "Insane In The Brain"—also from 1993's Black Sunday—outlines some heavy-sounding consequences. After a memorable simile—"Like Louis Armstrong played the trumpet / I'll hit that bong and break ya off somethin'"—the trouble begins: "Soon I got ta get my props / Cops come and try to snatch my crops / These pigs wanna blow my house down," and so on. Given such zealous policing, it's safe to assume the California-formed outfit would have been fans of Proposition 19.

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Title: 
Marginalization
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Black Sabbath: Sweet Leaf

Ok, so this effort from 1971's Master of Reality by the metal pioneers from Birmingham, England may be more like a love song to pot. But the third verse—"Straight people don't know what you're about / They put you down and shut you out"—unleashes the terrifying specter of being ostracized by the "straight" community. And that bout of coughing at the start of the track doesn't sound too healthy. And did you see Ozzy Osbourne on that reality show?

 

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Title: 
Drug Test Failure
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Luniz: I Got Five On It

The 1995 international smash "I Got Five On It"—meaning: "half of that dime bag is mine"—is packed tight with unwelcome marijuana consequences. There's the need to steal doobies, the feeling of never having enough, burns to the hand, and the ever-present risk of going "delirious like Eddie Murphy." But the Oakland rap duo's biggest potential problem is flagged by the lines: "Gotta take a whiz test to my PO / I know I failed cuz I done smoked major weed, bro." And all because, in the words of the super-catchy chorus, "I got five on it / Messin' wit' that Indo weed."

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Title: 
Paranoia
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Green Day: Basket Case

This cracking third single from the 1994 album Dookie details singer-songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong's anxiety problem—"Sometimes I give myself the creeps / Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me"—which he tries unsuccessfully to solve with the assistance of a "shrink" and a "whore." Armstrong would later be diagnosed with a panic disorder. But the question he keeps asking in the chorus could provide part of the answer: "Am I just paranoid? / Am I just stoned?" Too many green days?

 

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Title: 
The Munchies
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The Smithereens: White Castle Blues

"Saturday night and it's gettin' late / I'm gettin' hungry, I just can't wait. / Not just any kind of burger will do / I'm being hit by those White Castle blues." This song appeared as a bonus track on The Smithereens' 1986 album Especially For You, but shot to greater fame on the soundtrack of that stoner-anthem of a comedy movie, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Not only a burger, but "crisp onion rings" and "10 of those square little things" are required, prompting glazed smiles of recognition from potheads everywhere.

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Title: 
Lethargy
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The Beatles: I'm Only Sleeping

A contentious one, maybe; the meanings of most Beatles songs are crazily over-analyzed. But a 1966-vintage John Lennon? "Lying there and staring at the ceiling," in order to "float upstream," when Paul shows up at his house to write songs? We'll take quite-possibly-stoned. The lyrics might well not be explicit, when the lines "Found my way upstairs and had a smoke / And somebody spoke and I went into a dream" earned a BBC ban for "A Day In The Life" a year later. And anyway, who needs a watertight excuse to revisit a standout track from arguably the fabbest album of all?

Will Godfrey is Managing Editor of The Fix.