Toke a few (music) hits

by Beacon Staff • April 19, 2006

Just as many movies have memorialized marijuana, scores of musicians have sung its praises-often while smoking a joint in the studio. Some bands have even made a career out of lighting up and messing around on stage: Dave Matthews Band, Phish, the Grateful Dead-the list goes on. So, if you don't feel like a film, pop on one of these five discs and enjoy (vicariously, of course):

The Beatles Rubber Soul

Often considered one of the best pot records of all time, Rubber Soul is the perfect album to "chill out" to; later works like Sgt. Pepper's and The White Album, with their musical ambition and complex production, would be better suited for an acid trip. Rubber Soul, one of the first records The Beatles released after they began experimenting with drugs, finds the group incorporating deeper lyrics ("Norwegian Wood" is light-years ahead of "I Want To Hold Your Hand") and more interesting acoustic arrangements.

Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde

Rubber Soul probably wouldn't have happened without Dylan, the man who infamously turned T he Beatles on to weed. The herb's influence on Dylan can be best felt on his 1966 sprawling double-LP that shows his burgeoning love for the electric guitar and other instrumentation ("Absolutely Sweet Marie") with a faithfulness to his folk and country roots, as on the ballad "Visions of Johanna." Misinterpreted lyrics have cemented Blonde on Blonde into cannabis culture: "Rainy Day Women #12 35" is actually about troubles with females, but the refrain "everybody must get stoned" has made the song an unofficial smoker's anthem.

Peter Tosh Legalize It

In case you couldn't figure out what the "it" is, the cover art makes it painfully clear: Tosh is sitting in a vast field of marijuana plants, probable replenishments for the pipe he's smoking. Although the album contains typical reggae anthems fueled by political unrest, the title track is the standout: Tosh delivers a hilarious ode to ganja in which he extols its medical benefits, claiming it's good for both tuberculosis and asthma. All legislators should listen up.

Dr. Dre The Chronic

Much like Tosh, Dre wears his love of weed on his sleeve-unlike Snoop Dogg, who wears it on his hat in the uncensored video for The Chronic's best -known track, "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang." The rest of the album set the course for rap music over the next decade-and, for the most part, did it better than everyone else. The good doctor hustles and flows on both party anthems like "Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')" and the ode to misogyny "Bitches Ain't Shit."

Cheech Chong Big Bambu

Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without the stereotypical stoners. In the late '70s, the duo did everything but give out joints to spread the word about the herb. Even if you don't have a turntable, it's worthwhile to seek out a complete copy of the vinyl; the sleeve is designed to look like a package of rolling papers, and an oversized Zig Zag, complete with pictures of Cheech and Chong, is included. It's half of the necessary ingredients to properly listen to comedy skits like "Let's Make a Dope Deal" and "The Continuing Adventures of Pedro de Pacas and the Man.",Bryan O'Toole