When it comes to marijuana-themed music, certain genres leap immediately to mind: Hip-hop, stoner metal, jam bands, psychedelia, etc.
The list of sonic smoker subsets tends to grow pretty long before most us would get around to punk rock. From early on, punk's ferocious sound, feel, and participatory history have been more immediately associated with exotic intoxicants (airplane glue) and/or noxious narcotics (heroin) than anything in the mellow milieu of marijuana.
However, pot and punk have blended together successfully a number of times, including a handful of songs that pay tribute to the pleasures of smoke without falling short in the realm of anarchic fury. Here are our totally-biased, quasi-comprehensive picks for the top ten leather jacket stompers to light up to
(Editor's Note: for the sake of our sanity, we threw in some pop-punk rippers, too — pothead punk purists can gripe all they want in the comments section)
"Herojuana" — NOFX (2000)
Most Lit Lyric: "Are we men? Are we children? /At what age, can I choose how to live? / The only real drug problem is scoring real good drugs / Haven't we learned our lesson?"
LA pop-punk mainstays NOFX have always rocked for freedom and maintained their indie standards regardless of whether they're playing a flophouse basement or a baseball stadium.
NOFX also often combine partying with a higher purpose. "Herojuana" points out not just healing power of sativa, but the madness of those who attempt to keep it from the people. Smoke 'em all!
"We'll Give It to You" — Gang Green (1987)
Most Lit Lyrics: "We have fun while they pretend / Nine to five is bullshit it's not my style / A case of Bud and a bag of weed / is pretty much what we need"
Skate-punk marauders Gang Green initially erupted out of Boston in 1980. These perma-wasted hooligans blazed a particularly potent path through East Coast hardcore, leaving in their wondrously wanton wake innumerable beer empties and spent barrels of bong water — along with a hot roster of raucous grass-blasts on the order of "We'll Give It to You."
"Quest for Herb — Murphy's Law" (1990)
Most Lit Lyrics: "Ten bucks in hand / Herb to the man / I'm on a quest for herb / I'm on a quest for herb / I'm on a quest for herb/ Smoke it!"
While the 1980s New York hardcore scene seemed to veer from brutal, buzz-cutted street violence to unexpected outbursts of cosmic peace through "Krishna-core" (with one group, Cro-Mags, embodying both extremes), Murphy's Law approached every bit of it like the greatest opportunity on Earth to get lit.
"Quest for Herb" is just one high-light of Murphy's gloriously titled 1990 LP Back With a Bong. Another is the album closer blunt-ly named "Bong."
"Bong Song" — Butthole Surfers (1989)
Most Lit Lyrics: "When I crawled through a pipe / Without hesitation / To a place where a color / Went over my eyes / When I got to that place / They reached for my face / They lied"
Are you over 18?
In 1987, Texas-baked freak posse the Butthole Surfers blew a pillar of smoke through the wall that separated punk from metal by covering Black Sabbath's ultimate hymn to higher plant life, "Sweet Leaf." Of course, the acid-whacked Buttholes deconstructed it as "Sweat Loaf," but the message billowed forth from every riff: weed will bring us together.
Two years later, the Buttholes busted out "Bong Song," a typically discombobulating sonic sojourn that starts with the sound of the title object bubbling up and breaks down into hot-boxed cranium chaos from there.
"(Let's Go) Smoke Some Pot" — Dash Rip Rock (1995)
Most Lit Lyrics: "Let's go smoke some pot! Oh baby! / Let's go smoke some pot! / Come on, let's go smoke some pot! / Let's go!"
Dash Rip Rock blends every known musical genre of their native New Orleans into a gonzo gumbo, adds volcanic hot sauce of their own brewing, seasons it copiously with cannabis, and then fires the whole intoxicating concoction out with punk-rock brio. "(Let's Go) Smoke Some Pot" is a scorched earth interpretation of the 1958 Danny and the Juniors classic "Let's Go to the Hop" with lyrics properly warped for Generation Weed.
"Moist Vagina" — Nirvana (1993)
Most Lit Lyrics: "Marijuana!/Marijuana!/Marijuana!/Marijuana!"
The band that finally broke punk worldwide made sure to acknowledge the role that reefer played in that conquest. Originally issued as a B-side, "Moist Vagina" has become one of Nirvana's most adored (and smoked-along-with) anthems.
Aside from cockeyed heaviness and some ear-lubing gynecological lyrics, "Moist Vagina" rules because frontman Kurt Cobain repeatedly brays one of rock's all-time great one-word sing-along refrains — "Marijuana!/Marijuana!/Marijuana!/Marijuana!" — until your head feels as though you inhaled a multitude of the stuff, even if you haven't taken a single puff.
Are you over 18?
"Smoke Two Joints" — Sublime (1992)
Most Lit Lyrics: "I smoke two joints in time of peace / And two in time of war / I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints / And then I smoke two more"
Weed figured so crucially into the chemical makeup of SoCal ska-punk superstars Sublime that their drummer's name was "Bud." Of course, frontman and lead songwriter Bradley Nowell also always acknowledged the greatness of greenness with myriad original lyrical paeans to pot.
Still, Sublime's breakthrough hit proved to be "Smoke Two Joints," a cover of a 1983 single by Oregon reggae revelers The Toyes, that ignited radio airwaves just in time for the Lollapalooza era to get fully lit.
"Howling at the Moon" — The Ramones (1984)
Most Lit Lyrics: "Keep it glowing, glowing, glowing / I'm not hurting anyone / Keep it glowing, smoking, glowing / I'm howling at the moon / I took the law & threw it away / Cause there's nothing wrong / It's just for play"
"Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," from the Ramones' self-titled 1976 debut, insured that the punk revolution to come would be just as drug-pumped as the hippies had been, but with newly perverse spins.
After that early nod to huffing, though, the Ramones mostly veered away from calling out their inebriants of choice. "Howling at the Moon," however, makes it clear that the punk pioneers felt pure passion for the pleasures of the pipe.
The song even pleas for (inevitable) legalization: "Ships are docking / Planes are landing / A never ending supply / No more narco / No more gangster / Conservatives can cry."
Are you over 18?
"Green Day" — Green Day (1990)
Most Lit Lyrics: "A small cloud has fallen / The white mist hits the ground / My lungs comfort me with joy / Vegging on one detail / The rest just crowds around / My eyes itch of burning red"
The first word of both the band name Green Day and their eponymous early song is a reference to pot. Plain, simple, and smoke-adelic. It marked the moment at the dawn of the 1990s wherein the Mohawk-and-safety-bin brigade had turned on to rolling up and blasting off. Rock only got richer (in every sense) from there.
Thus, fueled by joint fumes, this Bay Area power trio pushed punk to unprecedented multiplatinum highs, pop radio saturation, induction into the Rock-'n'-Roll Hall of Fame, and even a Broadway musical based on their back catalog.
"I Against I" — Bad Brains
Most Lit Lyrics: "I said who's gonna tell the youth about the drugs / about the drugs, mugs, bugs, and the police thugs"
The brilliant, one-of-a-kind Bad Brains emerged from the same D.C. hardcore scene that also popularized drug-eschewing "straightedge" culture. Still, even those sober chrome domes perpetually bow in awe before these stoned-to-the-soul Rastafarian rock gods.
Jamaican spirituality speeds, pulsates, caroms, and grooves through every note of the Bad Brains' seemingly impossible amalgam of punk, reggae, dub, heavy metal, jazz, funk, and soul. Jah offers an ideal for which the Bad Brains eternally reach; ganja, guitars, and drums is how they get there.
Are you over 18?
It might seem surprising that the Bad Brains don't specifically name-check herb in their lyrics, but — like the spirit of punk-rock, cultural revolution, PMA (positive mental attitude), and enlightened consciousness itself — pot's presence is unmistakable when experiencing their music. "I Against I" alone is all kinds of a heady high in and of itself.
Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter