Music’s Mary Jane Moments

“I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. ‘Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were rrrrrreal fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.” — Bill Hicks, Comedian

There’s no debating that music and Merry Jane sing a similar tune; in fact, most genres wouldn’t even exist without some high-minded band members sparking up a doob before jamming in the studio or curing their stage fright with a little smokeable courage.

We broke down the details of this marriage in a previous journal post but to refresh the tokeaways: Jazz musicians and cannabis have a very interesting relationship with time. Think of modern music as a container where most song structures have boundaries and many don’t dare cross those lines. Of course, this doesn’t apply to jam bands like the Grateful Dead or jazzy types. You see, in the previous piece, we mentioned that Dr. Munch from the School of Pharmacology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, says that cannabis stretches time for music makers to experiment with limitless creativity. It’s no wonder the “jazz cigarette” was so aptly assigned to a time when an ensemble of guitars, drums, stand-up bass and a whole crew of stoney horn players kept in time over a free-form night complete with a harmonious head change.

The science conveniently stacks up informing why artists of all kinds turn to cannabis consumption. After all, our brains are hard-wired with the right receptors to ensure that would happen. Heck, we could even make an educated guess that our ancestors may have been chiefing weed and making beats long before the written language record says so. Beyond that, music and Merry Jane guarantee a shared experience with listeners also participating in the mota-fueled mind meld. The result is a more intimate experience that transcends listening that permeates your physical being on a cellular level. Have you ever watched a Dead show? Everyone is reallllly feeelinnggg it mannnn!

From the hippie dancers of the 1960s to the hip-hop heads spitting lyrics about getting high, the iconic moments of lighting up as an act of rebellion are less poignant as we inch towards national legalization. However, let’s take a look at this relationship a little closer with some nerdy cultural moments that pair pot with performance.

Dub, Reggae and Dancehall
Greensleeves Records—birthed in England around 1975—touts one the largest catalog of reggae sounds in the world. What does that mean for weed? For starters, the cadence of reggae is considered heartbeat music and dub is essentially reggae without the vocals. Dancehall is a more sparse version of reggae and all three have their roots in Jamaica with a direct connection to the Rastafari religion which is inextricably linked to cannabis use in religious ceremonies. That was a mouthful but also important to highlight a culture so open to consumption, the list of songs written about it are endless. Tunes abound about smuggling, chiefing reefer and our favorite, sharing some smoke with your friends. Chase the rabbit down the hole with these genres if you haven’t already. There’s always something new to uncover.

Stoner Rock
Slow and low, that is the tempo or at least another reason to love stoner rock. We’re not talking about the obvious nod to the 60s stuff we’re all accustomed to know and love, but the kind of tunes that make you sink into your couch and endlessly scroll weed feeds. If the science above says that time stretches while stoned, then it’s no wonder that metal legends like Sleep and Earthless have recorded entire albums that sound like one continuous track. Bands like Electric Wizard have even been known to light up on stage and encourage their fans to also indulge while zoning out to the drone.

With roots in the desert rock scenes and nods all the way back to Sabbath, stoner rock is often the unsung hero of guitar-based genres. Picture the opposite of a Dead Head with a more macabre aesthetic mixed with biker vibes or classic van culture and season with some releases on Riding Easy Records. The sludge these bands produce just conjures up the feeling of a wooden pirate ship on smoke-filled seas. We’re also certain this is the only genre with a picture of a pot plant on their Wikipedia page.

For those who prefer a more mellow pairing, cannabis as plant medicine is getting along great with a new ambient music movement. We’re not talking about Enya—though we’re sure ‘Orinoco Flow’ sits atop of many high-minded playlists—but the soothing sounds of a more electronic-based genre that puts people in parks staring at the clouds while performers noodle on modular synthesizers. Think of it as a new take on spa music, you know the kind that kicks you into a transcendental state while someone half your size climbs all over your back. Jokes aside, much like the slow sounding previous genres, a lot of ambient soundscapes are vibrationally in tune with natural brain waves and amplified with cannabis consumption. Leafly serves up a nice collection of blissed out ambient playlists to get you started to drop in and chill out.

With music being the most emotive artform and a medium that plugs right into the general sensibilities of just being human, join us as we celebrate music, Merry Jane and the stage they both share. Be sure to check out our regularly refreshed Pot Sounds for Old Pal’s expanded listening experience.