12 righteous weed songs from the world of Americana

Weed may not be for everyone, but these fantastic songs should be.
Weed songs from the world of Americana
Weed songs from the world of Americana / Gary Miller/GettyImages
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As April 20 approached, I thought it seemed appropriate to pen a brief homage to the myriad musical paeans to pot. After all, from ganja to wacky tobacky, weed, dope, and grass have been a continual source of inspiration for artists across many genres. Often, they sing its praises. But sometimes, they caution against its darker sides. It can be used for humor or escape. It can be, and often is, political. It can be, though not as often, spiritual.

Then, I thought printing such a piece on April 20 felt far too paint-by-numbers for such an outside-the-lines topic. Those in the know have led me to believe that marijuana use can lead to procrastination. Thus, my 4/20 essay is ready to go by early June.

I also decided that simply listing a bunch of songs, as engaging as it may be, couldn’t do the topic justice. There are too many sub-genres with their own style and point-of-view. So I took inspiration from Shel Silverstein, author of one of the legendary songs in the world of weed. Better known as a writer of children’s books, Silverstein was also a prolific songwriter. He wrote several major hits for Dr. Hook, as well as Johnny Cash’s iconic “Boy Named Sue.” He also wrote pot songs.

The Americana team of weed songs

“I Got Stoned and I Missed It” came from Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball in 1972. A few years later, he adapted his epic poem “The Smoke-Off” on his 1978 album Songs and Stories. It told the story of a showdown between Pearly Sweetcake – who could smoke more joints than anyone on the planet, and the Calistoga Kid, who could roll them faster than the speed of light. Silverstein put the two of them together in front of a sell-out crowd in Yankee Stadium to see if she could smoke ‘em faster than he could roll ‘em. I won’t spoil the outcome.  

I will not be including “The Smoke-Off” on the following lists. Just remember it as inspiration. What I have decided to do here is put together teams in order to determine which genre has the best songs about pot. I’m choosing a dozen songs from four different genres. Each team has a captain. (Well, I don’t know if the last one does yet, but I'm still deciding on that.) Each team has a batting order. We’ll examine one team each day, and at the end of it all, you, the reader, can choose which you like best.

Up first, we have Americana – with the affiliate genres of folk, bluegrass, and outlaw country.