One Toke Over The Line by Brewer & Shipley (Kama Sutra, 1971)

Folk duo, Brewer & Shipley smoked their way into one-hit-wonder status in 1971 with this little ditty about excess and life lessons learned. Of course the mere mention of the word ‘toke’ sent many to a Mary Jane-scented heaven as they proclaimed the song an anthem for their hippie lifestyle. Lawrence Welk had a different interpretation of the song and featured it on his show going as far as introducing it as a ‘modern spiritual’. Spiro Agnew found the song and the twosome subversive and harmful to the youth culture.

Now, what exactly is this song about and what is its true meaning? Brewer & Shipley let everyone in on the secret. It’s a joke song. That’s right. They wrote it as a gag to keep themselves entertained between songs and they would play it when then ran out of material at a gig. They recorded it for their 3rd album, Weeds, as a throwaway and didn’t think anything of it until an executive at Buddah Records, which distributed Kama Sutra records thought they should release it as a single. That guy, Neil Bogart, had a history of knowing a hit, and eventually formed Casablanca Records two years later.

So you can take it that they are just two dudes sitting in a train station waiting to go home, high as hell, so high it makes them blaspheme. Or it could be a testament to the power of the Lord, as in, he made them see the errors of their ways and has put them on a straighter path. I don’t want to take the mystique out of it for you, if you have any. But I would suggest that the next time you’re around a campfire, pull out the guitar and sing a few verses to see who joins in and who does a few Hail Marys.

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