Marijuana Policy Project

No No Songs: Anti-Pot Tunes Over the Years

We've highlighted the Top 20 Stoner Songs of All Time. They all generally celebrate marijuana. But there are some songs that don't. Here are several.

 

Neil Diamond

In 1968, Neil Diamond took a decidedly different approach with "The Pot Smoker's Song," a track on his third album, Velvet Gloves and Spit.

It goes:

Pot, pot gimme some pot
Forget what you are
You can be what you're not
High, high I wanna get high
You never give it up
If you give it a try

Interspersed with interviews with addicts from Phoenix House in New York, the song's more about hard drugs and promotes the gateway theory.

"Part of me is rebellious," Diamond told Rolling Stone. "And part of me will do something like that just to say, 'Hey, fuck you.' That's all it is. Fortunately, that side of me doesn't come out too often. It also confirmed a lot of people's feelings that I wasn't hip."

 

Ringo Starr and Hoyt Axton

Ringo Star followed suit in 1974 with "No No Song," his reggae-tinged ode to sobriety. It's on Goodnight Vienna and was a No. 3 hit for Starr. 

It goes:

A lady that I know just came from Colombia
She smiled because I did not understand
Then she held out some marijuana, ha ha!
She said it was the best in all the land

And I said, No, no, no, no, I don't smoke it no more
I'm tired of waking up on the floor
No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze
And then it makes it hard to find the door

The next verses are about cocaine and alcohol. "No No Song" is satirical but is is still by the drummer of the Beatles, which carries a lot of weight, so to speak.

The version below was performed with the Smothers Brothers.

Hoyt Axton, who wrote it, recorded a Tex-Mex version featuring Cheech & Chong in 1975.

 

Country vs. Cannabis

A couple of offbeat country songs dating back to the '50s and '60s found on compilations sound the alarm about marijuana. On "A Box of Grass," Buck Jones sings about a woman who goes from pot to heroin:

It goes:

Just a box of grass
That's how it started 
A little box of grass
And now Jeanie is dead

Johnny Price imitates Johnny Cash on "Marijuana, the Devil Flower." The message is not quite as harsh as Jones'.

It goes:

Marijuana, your leaves could tell a tale that could chill
But you won't talk and I guess you never will 
For silently you prey upon the youth
As they search for love and peace and truth

Marijuana, may your name pass from the scene 
And may the world foreget you've ever been
And if folks should wonder how you felt
We'll say the devil planted you in hell

They're both compiled on Hippies in a Blunder.

"Marijuana, the Devil's Flower" by Mr. Sunshine & His Guitar Pickers has the same title but different lyrics and sounds more like Hank Williams.

It goes:

Marijuana, the devil's flower
If you use it you'll be it's slave
Marijuana, it brings you sorrow
And may send you to your grave

And then of course there's Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" in 1969 with the famous opening line:

"We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee"

McGruff the Crime Dog

In 1986, McGruff the Crime Dog had an album, McGruff's Smart Kids Album. It contains nine cautionary songs about drugs, including "Marijuana," "Inhalants" and "Cocaine & Crack."

The "Marijuana" song goes:

Marijuana, don't try it at all
It's a lie, like beating your head against the wall 
Say no way, marijuana's a fast way to fall
You will pay 'cause it's doing you no good at all

McGruff also makes the following statement:

"A lot of people think that marijuana isn't dangerous. But they're wrong, because not only does it harm a person's body and mind but it often leads users to try even more dangerous drugs."

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.