Friday, May 24, 2019

Certain Songs #1547: Peter Tosh – “Legalize It” | Medialoper

Album: Legalize It
Year: 1976

. . .

First off, it’s just a coincidence of the alphabet that “Legalize It” follows “Puff, The Magic Dragon” in Certain Songs, especially since — as I pointed out yesterday — “Puff, The Magic Dragon” is most certainly not a weed song.

Whereas, “Legalize It” absolutely is. Perhaps the most weed song ever, almost instant shorthand for cannabis usage in popular culture.

For example, Rox and I have been going through a King of the Hill rewatch, and we got to an episode where Bobby decided he wanted to grow roses in a closet — he didn’t want Hank to know — and got referred by a florist to a head shop in order to get some indoor grow lights.

And just in case we didn’t know it was a head shop — as if the name “Stems and Seeds” wasn’t enough of a clue — “Legalize It” is blasting in the background of the scene. (The best joke in the episode is when, after being discovered by Hank, Bobby takes him back to Stems and Seeds for more equipment and Hank mistakes the bongs for vases.)

Legalize it
Don’t criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it

The weirdest thing about living in a post-legalization world is that there are now billboards all over Los Angeles for various cannabis products, so now Peter Tosh wouldn’t even be alone.

Lyrically, the verses of “Legalize It” are essentially lists: the first verse gives you some choices on what to call it; the second verse tells you some of the respectable — or “respectable” folks who smoke it; the third is a somewhat dodgy compendium of various ailments it cures; the fourth about various fauna who also enjoy it. Which, OK.

But of course, it’s the chorus which sticks in your mind: backed by what was essentially the Wailers minus Bob & Bunny but including the I-Threes, Peter Tosh’s big echoing voice almost made legalization seem inevitable. Who could deny anything to a guy who sounded this commanding?

Of course, eventually, he gets distracted by some birds smoking a joint or something and leaves the song at the fade to hit them up for some bud.

“Legalize It”

“Legalize It” performed live

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