Happy 4/20! Here’re Five Songs That’ve Been Misappropriated by High People
Take the edge off by realizing that you’ve been taking the edge off way too much.
A wise man once said, “N-n-n-nobody owns the water. God owns—it’s God’s water.” A sage perspective from an unclouded mind, and one that could just as well be applied to music. Whether the artists like it or not, once a song is in the Doritos-stained hands of consumers, it doesn’t belong to them anymore. It’s God’s music now. Or, at least, it’s your stoned roommate’s music now, and if he wants to make something his anthem to hitting a three-foot bong while bootleg streaming a basketball game in his room, you’ve just got to sit back and ride it out.
Now, it may be potentially very lucrative to have your song turn into a stoner anthem, but it may not always make a whole lot of sense. You could hit a high person over the head with lyrics about the Cold War, and they could easily bring that back as a song explaining why Russia is the best place to light up. You just can’t stop it. So, in honor of it being the hardest day of the year to think straight, we thought we’d go through a few of these anthems and clear the air with what they’re really all about. Or is that just what we want you to think. Nah, these songs definitely aren’t about weed. If you want that, put on “Weed King,” brah.
Black Sabbath — “After Forever”
The funny thing about Sabbath being assumed to be Satanists is that they were actually pretty devout Christians. And yeah, “Sweet Leaf” is one of the all-time great weed songs, but if you turn on Master of Reality to toke up to track one, by track two you’re being taken for a ride to a whole ’nother pulpit. Consider this actual line from “After Forever”: “Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone / Open your eyes, just realize that he’s the one.” *Puts down joint.*
Jefferson Airplane — “She Has Funny Cars”
Again, not gonna knock you if you’ve been known to pair White Castle with “White Rabbit,” but the entirety of Surrealistic Pillow isn’t just a magic carpet ride to buzz town. Turns out that those crazy San Francisco hippies were thinking about other stuff, like materialism, the establishment, and how “some have it nice, fat and round, flash, paradise.” Pretty cool that those issues are totally resolved in the Bay Area these days.
Parquet Courts — “Stoned and Starving”
There’s an important distinction to be made in Parquet Courts’ “Stoned and Starving”: a song can be about getting high without it being an anthem to getting high. Andrew Savage is, as you could guess from the title, stoned and starving, but his repetition on that state is based in a larger anxiety—an anxiety of place and time and purpose. Don’t worry, guys. Once you’ve been pegged as weirdo slackers in the public narrative, it only takes about two decades to shake that off.
Pink Floyd — “Brain Damage”
Probably the most misappropriated album of all time (Does Roger Waters even like weed?), Dark Side of the Moon is basically a meme of weed culture. The saving grace of having something claimed by stoners, though, is that they’re at least thoughtful about it to a degree—mainly regarding the themes that you can grasp while eating a Crunchwrap Supreme, like “Money,” or “Time.” But “Brain Damage” isn’t as straightforward, and is about a lot more than taking a rip too big (it’s actually about Syd Barrett’s sad spiral into mental illness). But, like, as Mr. Burns would say, “Shine on you crazy diamond.”
Huey Lewis & the News — “Hip to Be Square”
In ’87, Huey released this, Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is “Hip to Be Square,” a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself. FL