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Novelty Song Friday #21 — “One Toke Over the Line,” by Brewer and Shipley

Welcome to another installment of Novelty Song Friday. This is the third week of what I will call the “stoned series.” Thank you to Max at Power Pop for the suggestion! It will be the last one in the series at least for now, as I have another song lined up next week that doesn’t fit the theme.

Per wikipedia:
One Toke Over the Line” is a song written and performed by American folk rock duo Brewer & Shipley. It is a track from their 1970 LP Tarkio, and was released as their debut single in early 1971.

Mike Brewer gives this account of the origin of the song,

One day we were pretty much stoned and all and Tom says, ‘Man, I’m one toke over the line tonight.’ I liked the way that sounded and so I wrote a song around it.”

The song gained popular acclaim while the band was touring as an opening act for Melanie, after they received an encore but had run out of other songs to play. Spiro Agnew said the song with its reference to marijuana use was “blatant drug-culture propaganda” that “threatens to sap our national strength,” pressuring the FCC to include the song on its list of music banned from the airwaves because of drug references.

The song peaked at #10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #8 Cash Box during the spring of 1971, and was the duo’s only Top 40 hit. It also reached #5 in Canada and #7 in New Zealand.

 

A cover version was performed in early 1971 by Gail Farrell and Dick Dale on The Lawrence Welk Show, which Welk billed as a “modern spiritual.”  The way Myron Floren introduces them, maybe he had had one toke over the line?

 

The song is notably mentioned in the opening of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and was “sung” by Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) in the 1998 film of the same name.

 

One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line

Awaitin’ for the train that goes home, sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line

Whoooo do you love, I hope it’s me
I’ve bin a changin’, as you can plainly see
I felt the joy and I learned about the pain that my momma said
If I should choose to make a part of me, surely strike me dead
Now I’m one toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
I’m waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line

I bin away a country mile
Now I’m returnin’ showin’ off a smile
I met all the girls and loved myself a few
Ended by surprise like everything else I’ve been through
It opened up my eyes and now I’m
One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
Don’t you just know I waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line

Don’t you just know I waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line

I want to be
One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
Don’t you just know I waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over line
One toke, one toke over the line
Songwriters: Michael Brewer / Tom Shipley

 

15 thoughts on “Novelty Song Friday #21 — “One Toke Over the Line,” by Brewer and Shipley

  1. lol, I had totally forgotten this song until I listened just now. As a 6 year old, I had no clue about the drug reference. if it had made a comeback when I was 12, yeah, I would have gotten it (older brother and sisters 😉 ).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Lisa for the link…can you believe the Welk one? I mean were they that naive not to think what it was about? I just busted up laughing watching that again.
    I love the song a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was going to share that Lawrence Welk clip if you didn’t add it. It has to be one of the most cringe-worthy yet hilarious performances in the history of ever. Didn’t any of those performers know what it’s about? Just one? I met Brewer and Shipley at a gig of theirs in a bar up in Missouri in the early 90’s. Really nice guys.

    Liked by 1 person

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