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From: Dr. Demento
Dr. Demento's Blog - November 13, 2011
Our latest show (uploaded 11-12-11) is a marijuana marathon – over 2 hours of songs about reefer, pot, grass, boo, doobies, the killer weed, whatever you want to call it!
When the Dr. Demento Show began in 1970, “Coming Into Los Angeles” (“bringin’ in a couple of keys”, or kilograms of weed) and “Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent” had just come out. Major radio stations, which had let a few marijuana melodies slip by earlier in the 1960s, were feeling pressure from community leaders to come out against drugs. Fortunately, the station where I began the show, KPPC-FM in Pasadena, didn’t pay much attention to that at the time.
At first I was a lot more likely to play obscure roots music from the 1950s, but as I began taking more requests, I realized that songs about marijuana were much in demand. I especially liked coming up with songs from the 1930s like “Reefer Man,” since a lot of listeners seemed to find it incredible that anyone from their parents’ or grandparents’ generation could have enjoyed the herb that they had so recently discovered.
Marijuana was a popular song subject through the 1970s. Two very explicit songs about it, “One Toke Over the Line” and “Wildwood Weed,” hit the pop Top Ten in 1971 and 1974 as radio’s attitude relaxed a bit.
When I joined the Westwood One Radio Network in 1978, and the show was carried by radio stations all over the country, some of them highly corporate pillars of their communities, I was told I could play “one drug song per show.” I snuck an extra one in now and then, but sometimes the pendulum swung the other way. “The Smoke-Off” was immediately popular when it came out in 1978, and remained one of my most requested songs year in and year out, but some stations complained about it, and it was banned from my Westwood One show from 1985 until I left the network in 1992. (It remained a great favorite on my separate local show in Los Angeles).
There were fewer dope songs in the 1980s…weed was everywhere, and the subject may have lost its novelty appeal for awhile…but then along came Cypress Hill and Kottonmouth Kings.
There are far more reefer rhapsodies out there than I could possibly fit onto one show. On the new show I tried not to repeat too many of the songs that I played the last time I covered the subject, on the show for November 15, 2009...so if you want to hear “Wildwood Weed” or “Cruisin’ with Pedro de Pacas” be sure and check out that show here at drdemento.com. And you know what…there are still a whole lot more, and I do plan to revisit that topic in 2012.
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From: Dr. Demento
Dr. Al: That's true, there aren't as many new drug songs as there once were, at least in the folk and rock styles prominent in the 1960s and 1970s.
(I would differ slightly with you and say that their acme was in the 1970s).
There have been quite a few in hip-hop since then. As I mentioned, it's no longer quite such a novelty to sing a song about drugs. They're everywhere. In the 1960s and 1970s, some people were quite fervent about encouraging others to consume cannabis; it was almost like a religion. That spirit isn't present anymore.
From: Dr. Al
It seems like drug-related songs had their acme in the 60's. While there may be an emergent song, drugs, as a topic, doesn't seem to have as much prominence as it once did. What's your assessment on the popularity of drug-related dementia?
From: Kevin J
Smoke, no mirrors
This was a very good show, Doctor. You also filled us in with the behind the scene filler information, good work there. I am interestd iin how you were saying the network placed restrictions on your choices in this area in the past. Werte there any tricks you used to get around this and were there other subjects that you had to be restricked with?
Thanks again for all you do and stay demented!