Wednesday, December 11, 2019

2019 Tokey Awards

All winners qualify for a copy of "Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory." Write here with your address to claim yours. 


Tokin' Woman of the Year


At the age of 81, Jane Fonda has been getting arrested weekly to protest a lack of action on climate change, so much so that she has had to enlist her fellow celebs to get arrested in her place so that she doesn't risk missing filming for the new season of her series "Grace and Frankie" on Netflix. That's right: Fonda is not only still politically active, she is still working. Take that, people who think potheads are lazy and don't care about anything.

"You don't mind if I turn on, do you?" Fonda asked Rex Reed before puffing pot on New Years Eve, 1969, the day she found out she won a much-deserved NY Film Critics Award for her performance in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? "Hey, it's no secret that I've smoked pot," Fonda wrote in her 2005 autobiography My Life So Far. She's been spotted (or smelled) in recent years taking a toke at Hollywood parties.

Fonda was the main force behind the 1980 film 9 to 5, where she plays an innocent office worker who finds her inner strength with the aid of weed and gal pals Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. The film was a breakthrough in more ways than one: the first depiction on film of "an old-fashioned ladies pot party," it also lead to the formation of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union).

Fonda, Nicole Richie and Lily Tomlin share a joint in
a nice intergenerational moment on "Grace & Frankie"
I quibble with Fonda's Netflix character Grace, who denigrates co-star Tomlin's character Frankie for smoking weed while she herself downs alcohol and painkillers (and occasionally smokes pot herself). I liked Jane much better as another Grace, the hippie grandmother she embodied in the 2011 movie Peace, Love & Misunderstanding: her home reeks of pot, she deals a little on the side, and she introduces her grandkids (Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff) to both protesting and the wonders of weed.

I recently listened to an interview Fonda gave at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1975. It was evident how thoughtful, intelligent and committed to both her art and her politics she is. She talked about how the Nixon administration tried to blackball her from the the movie industry due to her political activity, but she prevailed. It's nice to see prominent women now able to stand up for cannabis and causes, and stay in the public eye. And we all owe Jane a debt of gratitude for that.

For being a true, pot-smoking warrior woman for the people and the planet who walks her walk and doesn't quit, we honor Jane Fonda as 2019's Tokin' Woman of the Year.

Top Journalist


Maria Ressa - who has been threatened with rape, murder and beheading, and arrested for so-called tax fraud, for her reporting on Philippine President Duterte's bloody drug war. (Also kudos to 60 Minutes for their report on Ressa and the Phillipines' treatment of journalists and to human rights attorney Amal Clooney for defending Ressa and raising the threats against her at the UN.)

David Downs for Leafly - Downs jumped into a deep dive and uncovered the connection between vaping-associated illnesses and the additive Vitamin E acetate weeks before the US Centers for Disease Control announced it, and kept consumers updated with the latest health warnings.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Amanda Chicago Lewis for Rolling Stone Inside the Battle for Sex-Centric Cannabis

Lissa Harris for SFGate.comWomen Are Disappearing From the Cannabis Industry. Why?

Elise McDonough for Leafly - These Investors Are Looking for Women-Led Cannabis Companies 
 
Brittany Shammas for Miami New TimesMedical Marijuana Cost a Nursing Student Her Spot at Nova Southeastern

Jessica Baron for Forbes - Women Are Underrepresented In Clinical Research On Cannabis

Coolest Commentary


Madeline Martinez: Why Full Cannabis Legalization Should Be A Priority If You're All About CBD


HONORABLE MENTIONS 

The View - Meghan McCain Says Marijuana Might Have Extended Her Father’s Life

The Daily Show - CBS Rejects a Medical Marijuana Ad Ahead of the Super Bowl

Carlos Miller for Miami New TimesStop Arresting Grandmothers for CBD


Phattest First-Person Article


Elizabeth Enochs for LeaflyHow I Consumed Cannabis in College Without Losing Focus

Liz Wolfe for ReasonI Got Stoned and Did My Taxes


Most Awesome Activists


Sheida Assar - who sued her Community College in Phoenix for suspending her after she tested positive for medical marijuana.

Melody Cashion - who successfully challenged her arrest for marijuana in Tennessee.

Pamela Palmiter - who won a ruling finding that a worker terminated for her medical marijuana use can pursue litigation against her former employer in Pennsylvania.

Michelle Gray - who turned her saliva-test drugged driving conviction into a constitutional challenge of Canada’s new impaired driving laws.

Madisen Saglibene of Nevada NORML, who helped passed a law protecting the employment rights of recreational cannabis users in her state; and JennMichelle Pedini of Virginia NORML, who worked to get her state to pass a law allowing school nurses to dispense medical marijuana to students. 

Sarah Gersten & Mary Bailey - for the Last Prisoner Project, a coalition of cannabis industry leaders, executives, and artists dedicated to bringing restorative justice to the cannabis industry.

Kathy Ireland - who lobbies for CBD with the NFL Players Association.

Top Lawmakers


Illinois State Reps. Jehan Gordon-BoothKelly Cassidy & Celina Villanueva and State Senators Heather Steans & Toi Hutchinson, aka "The Cannabitches" that made Illinois the nation’s 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use this year.

HONORABLE MENTION 

Reps. Shirley Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Lucy McBath (D-GA) & Karen Bass (D-CA) - for their strong statements and votes for the historic passage of Rep. Barbara Lee's MORE Act by the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, for calling for the resignation of Rep. Candice Keller after her "Most Horrible Facebook Post of 2019," in which she blamed "recreational marijuana" for mass shootings.

Best Quote from A First Lady

Sara Netanyahu – "There are really people who need [cannabis]… and medical cannabis is something they are blessed with, and I just hope that as many people as possible can get it."

Best Book


Chelsea Handler - Life Will be the Death of Me
The always forthright and funny Handler relates how after the Trump election she found that her rage at the political situation was overly exacerbated by her alcohol use, and so she began learning more about marijuana as a substitute.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Susan Soares - What's Growing in Grandma's Garden
Told in the voice of a boy learning about gardening from his grandmother, this simple and charming illustrated children's book sets honest, appropriate boundaries around cannabis for children.

Lizzie Post - Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties
Post, the great-great granddaughter of advice columnist Emily Post, skillfully blends cannabis culture's long-established norms with the Emily Post Institute's tried-and-true principles to provide guidance on the social issues surrounding pot today.

Katherine Eban - Bottle of Lies: the Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom
An exposé worthy of Jessica Mitford, wherein Eban uncovers "the labrynthine story of how the world's greatest public health innovation also become one of its greatest swindles.

Hannelore Cayre - The Godmother: A Crime Novel
This prizewinning bestseller in France features a middle-aged heroine as a drug-running crime boss and is the inspiration for the forthcoming film "Mama Weed" starring Isabelle Huppert.

Matt Taibbi - Hate Inc.
Taking off from Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" (and including an interview with Chomsky), Hate Inc. details in compelling terms how the media have switched to a combative "root, don't think" sports model for the news and what we can do about it.


Best Song / CD

Melissa Etheridge - The Medicine Show

 


Best Movie

Echo in the Canyon - Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas is among the musicians interviewed for this incisive and entertaining film about the good old partying days of Laurel Canyon, where folk rock was born. 

HONORABLE MENTION

"Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins"


Best TV Show 

One Day at a Time Episode 5: "Nip It in the Bud."
Addressing vaping, youth use, opiate addiction among veterans, and racism in the drug war, this well realized episode features an 87-year-old Rita Moreno (pictured) getting stoned on edibles.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

South Park: Season 23 Premiere, "Mexican Joker"
Just when you thought South Park and Tegrity Farms couldn't get any funnier. Special recognition for inspiring the best Halloween costumes of the year.

High Maintenance: Season 3, Episode 3 "Blondie"
A difficult roommate situation gets chill via an edible and a transcendent moment from Annie Golden, in an episode written and directed by Katja Blichfeld.

Ken Burns: Country Music Episode 6: "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" (1968-1972)
This episode in another exemplary series from Burns connects country music with the turbulent 60s, when the soldiers who fought the Vietnam War largely came from the rural, working-class demographic and the soldiers were serenaded by country stars.

VEEP Episode 62: South Carolina
Wikedly hilarious plotline in which a reactionary politician's donor wants to put more "potheads" in prison because they're nicer.

Best Actress

Andie MacDowell hit all the right notes, and some high ones too, as a "free love hippie spirit” who turns Chevy Chase onto weed and more in the terrific The Last Laugh on Netflix.

Her wise motto is, “Only good things happen when you let go."

MacDowell then played against type, embodying a madly hilarious, spoiled American character who starts a pot-growing enterprise on the British series "Cuckoo" (pictured).

HONORABLE MENTION

Alex Bornstein - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
In a role for which she has won two Emmys, Bornstein finds, smells, and smokes a joint...and then takes a glowingly stoned bubble bath. 

Best Quote from a Movie or TV Show


"Being drunk is not the same as being high. One makes you stupid, the other makes you interesting." Olympia Dukakis as Anna Madrigal on Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, here sharing a joint with Laura Linney.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

"I'm the kind of fun aunt that will give you weed but then arrest you for having weed."  MayaRudolph as Kamala Harris on SNL

Billie Lourd in Booksmart: "Not even pot? Because I think it would relax you."

"I like oxygen; it's my second favorite thing to inhale." Bill Maher: No Planet B

Best Girl-on-Girl Pot Smoking in a Movie or TV Show 


Linda Cardellini "reacquaints" Christina Applegate with weed in the premiere episode of "Dead to Me" on Netflix. The series is as gripping as a Hitchcock/Highsmith tale with as many twists as a doobie, and Cardellini completing her arc from Geek to Freak.


Best Research / Researchers


Naama Issacher, who was born in New Jersey, lives in Israel and is 26 years old,  received a 7.5 year sentence on October 11 for "smuggling" nine grams of marijuana through a Russian airport.

Woman weeps as medical cannabis for epileptic daughter confiscated at airport

Doctor Loses Medical License For Legally Treating Her Menstrual Cramps With Cannabis 

Federal Addiction Treatment Dollars Off Limits for Marijuana

Synthetic THC is safer than actual weed, according to the DEA


Most Titilating Tweets


Most Surprising Headline from a Mainstream Publication


Sunset Magazine - Chill Out Your Entire Family at Thanksgiving With This Cannabis-Infused Gravy

Bossest Beauty Queen


Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, an attorney who supports marijuana legalization does and pro bono work with clients who have served excessive time for low-level drug offenses. Her costume at the Miss Universe pageant gave homage to Lady Liberty, Lady Justice, Rosie the Riveter and Tokin' Woman Maya Angelou.

MISS CONGENIALITY
Miss Canada Alyssa Boston, who wore a marijuana-themed costume


Primo Podcast


Great Moments in Weed History - A Lesbian Power Couple Invented Weed Brownies

Alyssa Milano - Sorry Not Sorry: Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Marijuana, Mental Health, and Eliminating Stigma



Most Marvelous Meme



Best Event



 

Best Exhibit


WeedMaps Museum of Weed 



Rest in Power


René Auberjonois

Harold Bloom
 
Diahann Carroll

Doris Day

Peter Fonda

Paul Krassner

Peggy Lipton

Peter Tork

Rip Torn

Paul Volcker

Monday, December 9, 2019

Beauty Queens Support Marijuana Legalization

Reigning Miss USA Cheslie Kryst wowed the crowd at the Miss Universe pageant last night in Atlanta with a costume that gave homage to Lady Liberty, Lady Justice, Rosie the Riveter and Tokin' Woman Maya Angelou.

Kryst is a complex litigation attorney who supports marijuana legalization and has worked pro bono with clients who have served excessive time for low-level drug offenses. According to Insider.com, one such client was Alfred Rivera, who originally received a mandatory life sentence without parole for a low-level federal drug crime. Kryst noted how Rivera was sentenced to more time in prison than Brock Turner, the Stanford student who was convicted of raping a woman but only given 6 months in jail.

"Kryst said the criminalization of marijuana has also created a cycle in which people who have been convicted of low-level drug crimes can't reenter the job market," Insider reported. "I think there are many people who have just been pushed out of society," she said. "Now people won't hire them and so they don't have a job and now they have to do something, and maybe they turn to dealing marijuana because there's nothing else they can do. I just think there are so many other solutions that we have beside throwing people in jail for these low-level drug offenses."

Kryst has become a correspondent for Extra TV since moving to New York to become Miss USA. She made it to the top 10 of the 90-woman competition that was ultimately won by Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi.

Meanwhile, Miss Canada Alyssa Boston went all out last night, wearing a marijuana-themed costume in the competition. Boston told Vice,
"I think that's the biggest point, is to have somebody who's not in the industry talk about it and it could really open the eyes of a whole different group of people."

Last year’s Miss Universe winner, Catriona Gray of the Philippines, said she supported medical cannabis legalization. The country’s House of Representatives later passed a bill in favor of legal medical marijuana. In 2015, Miss Universe Australia Monika Radulovic said she supported legal weed in some circumstances; she was eliminated following that question round.

In 2011, Miss California Alyssa Campanella was given points for her answer in favor of medical marijuana on her way to being crowned Miss USA. She made it to the top 16 competing for Miss Universe.

The Miss Universe pageant was bought by Donald Trump in 1996, who sold it in 2015.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Elsie Sinclair: A Crusading Mother

Elsie Sinclair speaking at the 1971 John Sinclair
Freedom Rally in Michigan.
Poet, musician and activist John Sinclair has been in the news, as one of the first to purchase newly legal marijuana in his home state of Michigan.

Sinclair became a poster child for marijuana law reform when he was given a 10-year sentence for two joints, prompting Yippie! Jerry Rubin to organize an all-star Freedom Rally held on December 10, 1971 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

On the bill were Michigan natives Stevie Wonder, Bob Seeger, and Commander Cody (who did a soulful "Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues"). Also appearing were VIP Allen Ginsberg, Phil Ochs, Steve Miller, Chicago Eight members David Dellinger, Renne Davis and Bobby Seale (ungagged), and, in his first American performance since the break up of the Beatles, John Lennon with Yoko Ono, who performed his composition "The Ballad of John Sinclair." Two days later, an appellate court freed Sinclair on bail.

Speaking at the rally in support of her son was Sinclair's 59-year-old mother Elsie Sinclair (about 39 minutes in here). Elsie said, to cheers from the crowd, "I can tell you young people: you can teach more to your parents than your parents have ever taught you. I’m speaking from experience. I just read John's book Politics and Music and I didn’t dig the music but I dug the book. I’m beginning to dig the music."

An article from the following May in the Aurora Valley Advertiser titled "Mothers go to pot" quotes Elsie:

A group of Michigan mothers are fighting to keep their offspring out of jail. The mothers have announced their support of the drive to take to the people the question of decriminalizing marijuana possession by putting it on the ballot in November. 

If 265,000 certified signatures are collected by July 7, people can vote next November and strike down the irrational marijuana laws which "send hundreds of our sons and daughters needlessly to jail. Our children should not be harassed and subject to prison life for smoking a harmless herb. Families have been torn apart by these unfair and unnecessary laws; mothers have been the victims of untold anguish as their children are taken away from them by the state."

In their statement the mothers, including Elsie Sinclair, 60-year-old mother of John Sinclair, concluded, "Millions of people smoke marijuana. Mothers smoke marijuana. We can't turn back the tide. But unless we get it on the ballot we face years of more harassment and arrests while the courts and legislatures move on the matter at a snail's pace."

This was a powerful statement at a time when parents' groups, lead by mothers, were fighting to keep marijuana illegal (as described in Emily Dufton's book Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America.) 

California activist and California NORML board member Jackie Gay Wilson recalls, "My kindergarten-teacher, League-of-Women-Voters mom Dorothy Novy Wilson met Elsie at the Ann Arbor Unitarian Church. Elsie was trying to get her son John out of Jackson State Prison. She took my mother under her wing and turned her into a revolutionary.

"They marched for and acted for many things, including John's cause, world hunger, housing, black lives, abortion rights, and drug legalization. The whole church, actually, was radicalized, and they harbored a fugitive Salvadoran family for several years."

Monday, December 2, 2019

"La Cucaracha" Was a Female Mexican Soldier

Most of us know the tune as one sung by Pancho Villa's soldiers:

La cucaracha, la cucaracha
ya no puede caminar
por que no tiene, porque le faltan 

marijuana que fumar

The cockroach, the cockroach
Cannot walk anymore
Because she hasn’t, because she lacks
marijuana to smoke


See a 13-year-old Judy Garland singing about "La Cucaracha" and marijuana in 1935:




La cucaracha was a nickname for a female Mexican soldier, and legend has it that "marijuana" too was named for such a woman, since they were also called juanas.

Sheet music dated  January 1918, from Antonio
Vanegas Arroyo Print shop in Mexico City
 
According to the book Soldaderas in the Mexican Military: Myth and History by Elizabeth Salas, soldiering has been a "traditional life experience for innumerable women in Mexico" since pre-Columbia times. "Women warriors, camp followers, coronelas, soldaderas, and Adelitas are just some of the names given to these women,” she writes. A footnote adds that Juanas and cucarachas were other names applied to women in the Mexican military, along with mociuaquetzque (valiant women), viejas (old ladies) and galletas (cookies).

Salas says "La cucaracha" is a corrido that goes back to nineteenth century Spain. Later, soldiers in Porfirio Diaz's army sang about "La cucaracha" to mock Francisco I. Madero, or a soldadera that wanted money to go to the bullfights. "With the Villistas, 'La cucaracha' wanted money for alcohol and marijuana," writes Salas. "She was often so drunk or stoned that she could not walk straight."

Other versions mocked Victoriano Huerta as the cockroach. The song had hundreds of verses; Isaac Campos wrote in Homegrown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs, "Like so many Mexican folk songs, this one had innumerable versions that were routinely altered to whomever happened to be singing the tune at the time."

"Unlike corridos about male revolutionaries like Villa and Zapata, none of the well-known corridos about soldaderas give their real names or are biographical. Consequently, there are vey few stanzas that ring true about women in battle or in the camps," Salas notes.

"El baile de la cucaracha" by José Clemente Orozco, 1915-17
Male artists often depicted the soldaderas as semi-disrobed hookers. One etching, by muralist José Clemente Orozco, "The dance of the cucaracha” is especially insulting.

An early version of the song's sheet music from 1918 (above) has a better—if somewhat placid—depiction of a cucaracha / soldadera, an etching by Jose Guadalupe Posada. It is titled, "Corrido de la Cucaracha Que No Ha Salido a Pasear Porque No Tiene Centavitos Que Gasta" (Ballad of The Cockroach That hasn't been able to go out because she doesn't have money to spend).

One “Juana” was the famed or fabled “Juana Gallo” (the Rooster Woman), a fearless fighter. Some say she was Angela Ramos Aguilar, a Zacatecana soldadera, and she was the subject of a 1961 film "The Guns of Juana Gallo."

corrido (Mexican folk song) titled "La güera" extols her:

Among the noise of cannons and shrapnel
comes forth a popular story
about a youth called Juana Gallo
because she was valiant without a doubt

Always at the front of the troop you saw her
fighting like all the other soldiers
in battle no federal soldier escaped her
without mercy she shot them with her big pistol. 

"When the army needed their services, the soldaderas stayed in the ranks, and their actions many times were considered awesome and morale inspiring. But at other times, they were abandoned without much hesitation or ordered not to advance with the men into battle," Salas writes. "The cultural reconstructions of the soldaderas have reflected extremes between the fierce fighter (Juana Gallo) and the base camp follower (La Cucaracha). The 'middle ground' soldadera character in the person of 'La Adelita' has emerged as the clear favorite of artists and writers. 'La Adelita' is the 'sweetheart of the troops,' a woman who is valiant, pretty, and a wonderful helpmate to the soldier."

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Top 10 Rock & Reggae Marijuana Songs By Women


1. White Rabbit - Grace Slick
The bolero-inspired 60's anthem penned by Grace Slick brings back Alice in Wonderland with the lyric, "Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call." The Great Society first recorded it with Grace's powerful vocals in November 1965, a year before the Jefferson Airplane version (also with Grace) hit the charts big time.



2.  Mary Jane - Janis Joplin
Slick's fellow rock goddess Janis Joplin wrote the blues-inspired "Mary Jane" and sang it in the style of her idol Bessie Smith. The song laments the high cost of pot: "When I bring home my hard earned pay / I spend my money all on Mary Jane." Sadly for Janis, heroin and Jack Daniels were cheaper.




3. Stoned Soul Picnic - Laura Nyro
Prolific songwriter and pot-smoker Laura Nyro penned this classic in 1968. It became a hit for The 5th Dimension and was also recorded by Barbra Streisand. "Let's not rush it, we'll take it slow."



4. One Draw - Rita Marley
Rita Marley's 1981 song remains avant garde even today: it features schoolchildren telling their teacher about smoking ganga on summer vacation. "Hey Rastaman, hey what you say / Give me some of your sensi."



5. Right Hand Man - Joan Osborne 
From Osborne's 1995 debut album Relish, which won multiple Grammy nominations, including best song for "One of Us" (parodied by Bob Rivers as, "What if God Smoked Cannabis.") "The sinsemilla salesman  / The cops on the block / They know what I been doin' / They see the way I walk."




6. If It Makes You Happy - Sheryl Crow 
This title track from Crow's 1996 album won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 1997 Grammy Awards. “OK, I still get stoned / I’m not the kind of girl you take home.” Crow recently said at a concert that vinyl and weed would save the recording industry.




6. Legalise Me - Chrissie Hynde
This 1999 anthem by the righteous Ms. Hynde rocks out with Jeff Beck on guitar. "I'm just a farmer and I grow marijuana."




7. Stoned - Macy Gray 
In her uniquely wonderful voice, Gray produced a video where she smokes and watches Very Important Potheads on TV for this trippy 2014 track.



8. Flava - Megan Trainor / Tenelle - Flava 
Written by Megan "All About The Bass" Trainor and recorded in 2013 by Samoan/American singer-songwriter Tenelle, "Flava" celebrates marijuana's various strains. "I can take a taste of the Sour D / but you wake me up from that Blue Dream..."



9. New America - Halsey (2015)
"We are the New Americana / high on legal marijuana." The video is about witch burning, which shows Halsey gets it.




10. Faded by Design - Melissa Etheridge
"The legalization of plant medicine is ushering in a whole new era of understanding. 'Faded by Design' is a song celebrating that change," Etheridge told Rolling Stone.  "Don't call the doctor / the cure is in my mind."


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Higher - Hirie 
"White smoke fills the air / you know I love the way you take me there."

High By the Beach - Lana Del Rey
This music video has 108 million YouTube views.

Rihanna - James Joint
"I'd rather be smoking weed / whenever we breathe."

I Love You More - Sarah Silverman 
"I love you more than my after-show monster bong hit."

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome - Madeline Peroux
Cover of a Bob Dylan song I always thought was about pot. And don't get me started on those Rainy Day women.

What's Up - 4 Non Blondes (1991)
"And so I wake in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high." This video, with dreadlocked leadsinger Linda Perry, comes in at 774 million views.

Pass That Dutch - Missy Elliott (2003)
"Come on, pass the dutch, baby! / Shake-shake shake ya stuff, ladies!"

Addicted - Amy Winehouse (2006)
"When you smoke all my weed man / You gots to call the green man."

Dooo It - Miley Cyrus (2015)
"Feel like I am part of the universe / And it's part of me."

Lady Gaga - A-Yo (2016)
I don't really get it, but it has 22 million YouTube views.

Smoke the Weed - Sister Carol (2017)
From her weed-inspired CD, The Healing Cure.

Dance Real Close - Jessie Payo (2019)
I first saw Payo perform this hauntingly beautiful tune as a busker in the 2019 movie The Last Laugh, in which Andie McDowell turns Chevy Chase onto pot, and shrooms. "Nobody's perfect / I know that I'm high as a kite."

Also see: Top 10 Marijuana Jazz Songs by Women 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Top 10 Marijuana Jazz Tunes by Women



 

 1. Gimmie a Reefer
Seminal blues singer Besse Smith was "a living symbol of personal freedom" and "smoked 'reefers' throughout her career." (Buzzy Jackson, A Bad Woman Feeling Good.) In 1933 she recorded the Kid Wilson song "Gimme a Pigfoot" and in the last verse she belts out, "Gimme a Reefer," as only Bessie could.



2. Sweet Marihuana
Written by Arthur Johnston and Sam Conslow, this classic was originally sung by Gertrude Michael in the 1934 movie "Murder at the Vanities" in an elaborate dance number. The lyric was later changed to "Sweet Lotus Blossom," but it was brought back in the 1970s by Bette Midler, accompanied by her music director Barry Manilow on piano. She recorded it on her "Broken Blossom" album and performed it during her 1999 Divine Miss Millenium tour.



3. When I Get Low, I Get High
Written by vaudevillian actress and songwriter Marion Sunshine, this song was recorded in 1936 by Ella Fitzgerald, whose musical phrasing on the song's title alone is a knockout (as is all of Ella's singing). A music video cover of the song by The Speakeasy Three wearing shimmering green gowns has 15 million YouTube views.



4. Why Don't You Do Right?
Originally recorded as "Weed Smoker's Dream" in 1936 by the Harlem Hamfats, the original lyrics are about a man enjoining his girlfriend to sell weed. It was recorded by the sultry soprano Lil Green in 1941, and brought success to Peggy Lee when she sang it in the 1943 film "Stage Door Canteen," in an arrangement by Very Important Pothead Benny Goodman. The song was sung by Amy Irving as Jessica Rabbit in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," and Lana Del Rey covered it during her Endless Summer Tour.




5. Roll 'em
Jazz composer and Tokin' Woman Mary Lou Williams wrote this tune for Goodman's 1937 album "When Buddha Smiles." Williams "found marijuana calming, useful for reflecting and relaxing at times" and liked to smoke backstage with Billie Holiday.




6. If You're a Viper
This Stuff Smith song made famous by Fats Waller in 1943 was recorded by blues singer Rosetta Howard with the Hamfats in 1937. A "viper" was slang for a marijuana smoker, as chronicled by VIP Mezz Mezzrow in Really the Blues.




7. Jack I'm Mellow
Blues singer and actress Trixie Smith recorded this Gundy & House tune in 1938 with Sidney Bechet on soprano sax. Smith also recorded under the name Trixie Smith and her Down Home Syncopators, which was often Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra (where Louis Armstrong got turned on). In 2017, "Jack I'm Mellow" became the theme song for the comedy series Disjointed with Kathy Bates.




8. Knock Myself Out
In 1937, the hammer came down on gage, and this tune from 1941, recorded by Lil Green, takes a more moralistic tone than earlier, more celebratory recordings. After Peggy Lee's more uptempo, sweetened up version of "Do Right" eclipsed her own, Green tried to re-invent herself in a Billie Holiday style. She was signed by Atlantic Records in 1951 but died of pneumonia, at the (estimated) age of 35, three years later.



9. Twisted
British jazz singer Annie Ross penned the lyrics to "Twisted" in the bohemian year of 1952, and liked blowing gage with Sarah Vaughan. Ross dated Lenny Bruce and is shown here singing her song on Hugh Hefner's swingin' TV show. Joni Mitchell put the song on her "Court and Spark" album, complete with a cameo from Cheech & Chong).



10. Tea for Two
Jazz singer and convicted marijuana smoker Anita O'Day caused a sensation when she scatted her way through this classic at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958, dressed like she was going to a tea party. As "tea" was slang for marijuana, one wonders what kind she was drinking. "You can swing, you'd better come with us," Goodman's drummer Gene Krupa told her when he asked her to join his band. He was so right.

Also see: Top 10 Rock & Reggae Marijuana Songs By Women

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Country Music and Cannabis

"Met a trucker out of Philly, had a nice long toke."  -Wagon Wheel, the opening song for the series. 


Rosanne Cash: She Remembers Everything
Episode 6 of Ken Burns's remarkable Country Music series for PBS connects country music with the turbulent 60s. The soldiers who fought the Vietnam War largely came from the rural, working-class demographic and the soldiers were serenaded by political songs from Loretta Lynn and other country stars.

Kris Kristofferson is presented as the awesome poet that he is, elevating country lyrics to a whole new level. A Rhodes Scholar and fan of William Blake (he of the "Doors of Perception"), Kristofferson strayed from his Army career path after seeing Johnny Cash perform.

After breaking through with Tokin' Woman Janis Joplin's version of his song "Me and Bobby McGee," Kristofferson convinced Johnny Cash to record his song, "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Rosanne Cash tells the story of how her father sang the song's lyric as written on TV (in defiance of the censors): 

On a Sunday Morning Sidewalk 
I'm wishin' Lord that I was stoned....


As to Merle Haggard's famous song, "Oakie from Muskogee," which begins:

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee
We don't take our trips on LSD....

The story is told about how the song was written as a joke, but to Haggard's surprise it got adopted as an anthem by rural, anti-marijuana folks. Ray Benson from the pot-loving band Asleep at the Wheel is interviewed saying how shocked he was when the song came out, because, "Everybody in country music knew that Merle smoked marijuana."

Kristofferson joined Haggard to sing his own tongue-in-cheek lyrics to the song at the 2011 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco:

We don't shoot that deadly marijuana  
We get drunk like God wants us to do...

Also presented in the series is the amusing anecdote that when Willie Nelson's farmhouse burned down outside Nashville in 1969, all he saved was his guitar Trigger and a guitar case full of marijuana. This fact was confirmed by the Twitter feed from Nelson's cannabis brand Willie's Reserve: 

Nelson's broadening of the country music, working from his home state of Texas, is presented: his recording of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" is included, and he is credited with starting the long-running show "Austin City Limits." 

Nelson's collaboration with Haggard on The Outlaws record, whereby artists took control of their recording destiny outside the traditional Nashville system, is also covered. That album included Shel Silversten's song "Put Another Log on the Fire." Silverstein also penned Cash's #1 hit "A Boy Named Sue" and his other compositions included, "The Great Smoke-Off" and "The Perfect High." 

Guy Clark is shown in the episode singing his song L.A. Freeway:

If I can just get off of that L.A. Freeway
Without gettin' killed or caught
I'd be down that road in a cloud of smoke
For some land that I ain't bought bought bought...

Kacey Musgraves tweeted in 2016, after Clark died,




Even though many of the musicians interviewed were from Texas and cited Mexican music as an influence, few Latinx artists were included. One was Freddy Fender, whose career stalled after he was arrested for pot. A singer/songwriter not included in the series is Hoyt Axtonwho was also arrested for pot and wrote songs about it.

Graham Parsons is shown in his pot-leaf-adorned Nudie Cohn suit, and the contributions made by his singing partner Emmylou Harris, who he converted from folk to country music, are stunning: Among them, she recorded an album in the Ryman Auditorium, which had been long closed but soon re-opened as the home of the Grand Ole Opry. These days, singer Jenny Lewis appears in a costume inspired by Parsons's suit.

Dolly Parton is given her due in the series. Finally releasing herself from her seven-year stint as Porter Wagner's "girl singer" by writing "I Will Always Love You" for him (and allowing him to produce the recording), Parton went on to a huge crossover career that included acting smoking pot in the movie 9-5 with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. (I rather doubt Parton smokes it outside of the movies though; when she sang lead on Neil Young's "After Gold Rush" in trio with Emmylou and Linda Ronstadt, she changed the lyric "I felt like getting high" to "I felt like I could cry.")

Carlene Carter is also interviewed, revealing that her grandmother Maybelle wanted to sing "One Toke Over the Line," thinking it was a spiritual. She wasn't the only one: Lawrence Welk aired a version of the song, and called it "a modern spiritual." (Too bad then-VP Spiro Agnew went on a rampage against it, essentially killing its radio airplay and halting the success of hard-working midwest band Brewer & Shipley.) Comedic country musician Jim Stafford did a parody of the Carter Family's song "Wildwood Flower" called "Wildwood Weed" in 1974.

These days, country music's women are starting to feel freer to use marijuana, and sing about it. Not falling far from the tree, Willie's daughter Paula Nelson was arrested for pot herself on 4/20/2014. Margo Price, who's been hailed as country's new star, is co-branding a strain of cannabis with Willie's Reserve and female farmer Moon Made Farms.



Kacey Musgraves says one of the first songs she wrote after she moved to Nashville was "Burn One With John Prine." She broke through to radio airplay with her cover of Brandy Clark's song "Follow Your Arrow":

Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint or don't (I would)
Just follow your arrow wherever it points. 


I also really like Clark's "Get High," in which she sings about a housewife who, "when the to-dos have all been done," sits down at the kitchen table and "rolls herself a fat one."

You know life will let you down
Love will leave you lonely
Sometimes to only way to get by
Is to get high 


But the song that really (country) rocks me out is from Ashley Monroe: