Top 30 Weed Songs
Rock stars and marijuana have a long history, so it's no surprise so many artists have penned songs inspired by (and probably on) weed.
Some artists have celebrated the drug’s effects, from relaxation to creativity to a greater cosmic balance; others have cautioned against cannabis’ long-term effects, including its role as a gateway drug to more dangerous addictions.
These days, more than half of the U.S. has legalized (or, at the very least, decriminalized) marijuana use. Still, it wasn’t too long ago the drug was taboo in mainstream society and seen as “the devil’s grass.”
Below, we celebrate the good and the bad with the Top 30 Weed Songs.
30. Van Halen, “Amsterdam”
From: Balance (1995)
Amsterdam is known for its cannabis culture and became the world’s most popular marijuana destination after the Netherlands legalized the drug in 1976. It also happens to be the birthplace of Alex and Eddie Van Halen. Both factors play into “Amsterdam,” the band's 1995 single. The lyrics – which include pot references like “Wham bam, Amsterdam / Stone you like nothin' else can” – were penned by singer Sammy Hagar. Eddie Van Halen later admitted he wasn’t a fan of the song because of its lyrical content. “I always hated the words 'wham, bam, Amsterdam,'” the guitarist admitted to Guitar World. “Because they were all about smoking pot – they were just stupid. Lyrics should plant some sort of seed for thought or at least be a little more metaphorical." (Corey Irwin)
29. Sublime, "Smoke Two Joints"
From: 40 Oz. to Freedom (1992)
Reggae band the Toyes originally released “Smoke Two Joints” in 1983. Its lyrics celebrated habitual cannabis use, with lines like “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.” Even though the track received some local radio airplay in Hawaii, where the Toyes were based, it made little impact elsewhere. That changed in 1992 when Sublime covered the song on their album 40 Oz. to Freedom. The ska-punk rendition clicked with younger listeners and became a staple on alternative radio stations and every skate shop in the States. (Irwin)
28. Peter Tosh, "Legalize It"
From: Legalize It (1976)
The title track of Jamaican singer-songwriter Peter Tosh's 1976 album Legalize It was banned when it was released. But that didn't stop the former member of Bob Marley and the Wailers from launching a career outside of the band: The album cracked the Billboard 200 and helped break Tosh as a solo artist. in "Legalize It," Tosh emphasizes a hidden secret of society: More people toke up than you think. "Doctors smoke it / Nurses smoke it / Judges smoke it / Even the lawyer, too," Tosh sings. (Allison Rapp)
27. Rush, “A Passage to Bangkok”
From: 2112 (1976)
“A Passage to Bangkok” is definitely about getting high. Artists routinely insist that their songs are being misinterpreted, but Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson was more than happy to confirm "Bangkok"'s origin. In a 2012 interview with High Times, he called the song a “fun little journey about all of the places you could go to have a puff.” Appropriately, specifics remain hazy. “That song was probably written in a farmhouse, on an acoustic guitar, in front of a little cassette player of some sort,” he explained. “We would record like that and then go down in the basement and rehearse it.” (Matt Wardlaw)
26. Brewer & Shipley, "One Toke Over the Line"
From: Tarkio (1970)
“One Toke Over the Line” was a Top 10 hit for Brewer & Shipley, who came up with the song as a goof near the end of a gig in Kansas City. They weren't even going to record it at first until their label urged them to consider otherwise. They ended up attracting attention beyond chart success. “One night Vice President Spiro Agnew named us on national TV,” Mike Brewer recalled in a 2012 interview. “[He] named us personally as subversive to American youth and we made [Richard] Nixon’s enemies list, which we held as a badge of honor, of course, and we still do.” (Wardlaw)
25. Ringo Starr, "The No No Song"
From: Goodnight Vienna (1974)
One could argue that "The No No Song" is an anti-drug anthem — but come on, who was Ringo Starr fooling? The ex-Beatle swears off pot, cocaine and moonshine in the whimsical 1974 track, swearing that he's "tired of waking up on the floor," but his rejections sound wistful and halfhearted at best. "The No No Song" ultimately proved prophetic though, as Starr finally got sober in 1989 — 15 years after its release — and introduced it on subsequent tours by telling the audience, "The sentiment of this next song is the sole reason I'm up here tonight." (Bryan Rolli)
24. Willie Nelson, "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die"
From: Heroes (2012)
If you ever wanted to hear Snoop Dogg perform a country song, look no further than Willie Nelson's "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," which features the famously 4/20-friendly rapper taking a verse along with Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson. The song was fittingly released on April 20, 2012. Nelson has been a longtime marijuana advocate and has been arrested for possession several times over the years. "It's nice to watch it being accepted — knowing you were right all the time about it: that it was not a killer drug," he told Rolling Stone in 2019. "It's a medicine." (Rapp)
23. Grateful Dead, “Truckin’”
From: American Beauty (1970)
On Jan. 31, 1970, the Grateful Dead were at the center of a drug raid in New Orleans, an event immortalized in their classic "Truckin'": "Busted down on Bourbon Street / Set up like a bowling pin." The Dead weren't necessarily surprised the raid occurred, but 19 members of their touring party were arrested and eventually released on a bail of close to $40,000. Most of the charges were eventually dropped, but that didn't stop the Dead from recounting their brush with the law in a song that would wind up one of their best-known. (Rapp)
22. Boston, “Smokin’”
From: Boston (1976)
“I wanted to be in a great band with great songs,” Boston mastermind Tom Scholz explained to Rolling Stone in 1978. “No dinosaurs.” Drawing on influences like the Kinks and James Gang, Scholz wrote “Smokin’” with an infectious organ line that recalls another classic influence: Deep Purple. “We’re gonna play you a song / A little bit of rock 'n' roll,” Brad Delp sings. “We’re cookin’ tonight / Just keep on tokin’.” No hidden meanings here. Just fire one up. (Wardlaw)
21. Ray Charles, "Let’s Go Get Stoned"
From: Crying Time (1966)
In 1964, Ray Charles was arrested for possession of heroin. He entered a rehab program and upon his release put out two songs: “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and a cover of “Let’s Go Get Stoned.” Think he was trying to send a message? While the latter was originally released by the Coasters a few years earlier, it was Charles who took it to No. 1 on the R&B chart. Years later, Joe Cocker would make the song a highlight during his star-making set at Woodstock. (Irwin)
20. Green Day, “Longview”
From: Dookie (1994)
The first single released from Green Day’s career-altering 1994 album, Dookie, “Longview” described the mundane life of a person with absolutely nothing going on. The character spends his days masturbating and “smoking my inspiration.” As it turned out, the song was semi-autobiographical for frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. “I was just in a creative rut,” he explained to VH1, recalling his headspace when writing the song. “I was in-between houses, sleeping on people's couches. It's a song about trying not to feel pathetic and lonely.” “Longview” became Green Day’s first hit, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s alternative chart. (Irwin)
19. The Doors, “Light My Fire”
From: The Doors (1967)
"Light My Fire" began to take shape when guitarist Robby Krieger decided to write a song about one of the four elements: earth, air, water and, the winner, fire. But when it was released in 1967, the song was assumed to be about sparking a joint, especially in the line "Girl, we couldn't get much higher." The Doors were asked not to sing this����particular line when they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in September 1967 and to replace it with "Girl, we couldn't get much better." Morrison sang the original lyric anyway. When told the band would never be allowed on the show again, Morrison reportedly replied, "Hey, man. We just did the Sullivan show." (Rapp)
18. Paul McCartney & Wings, "Hi, Hi, Hi"
From: Wings Over America (1976)
McCartney found inspiration for “Hi, Hi, Hi” in a couple of places. Blues legend Robert Johnson’s “Train in Vain” helped plant a seed for the opening line, while the “bootleg” referenced in the following lyric came from a visitor to McCartney’s farmhouse carrying a burlap sack with a bootleg record inside. In his book The Lyrics, McCartney noted that the BBC and other outlets quickly took offense to the song's chorus. “The bottom line here is that sex and drugs are two of the staples of rock 'n' roll,” he explained. “More than that, this is a genre that openly recognizes sex and drugs as being fun.” (Wardlaw)
17. Led Zeppelin, “Misty Mountain Hop”
From: Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" recounts a real-life rally that took place in London's Hyde Park in July 1968. Protestors advocated for the legalization of marijuana, but the event was disrupted by law enforcement. Several people were arrested for possession. Robert Plant relayed the scene in "Misty Mountain Hop." "It's about a bunch of hippies getting busted, about the problems you can come across when you have a simple walk in the park on a nice sunny afternoon," he said in Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Songs of All Time. "In England, it's understandable, because wherever you go to enjoy yourself, Big Brother is not far behind." (Rapp)
16. Aerosmith, “Reefer Head Woman”
From: Night in the Ruts (1979)
Aerosmith dipped back into their blues roots for this 1979 track, dusting off a song originally recorded by Jazz Gillum back in 1938. The bad boys from Boston updated the song with loud guitars and newly penned lyrics. “Reefer Head Woman" chugs along a classic blues lint, with Steven Tyler delivering a soulful harmonica solo midway through before Joe Perry unleashes a blistering guitar attack. (Irwin)
15. Motley Crue, "Smoke the Sky"
From: Motley Crue (1994)
Motley Crue's days of overdosing on heroin and getting left for dead in dumpsters were long behind them by 1994, but they were still willing and able to salute their vices when the occasion arose. On "Smoke the Sky," the reformed glam-metal stars insert themselves into an illustrious lineage of THC truthers, from Socrates to Marco Polo to J.F.K. This is no laid-back, flower-power toking anthem – it's a metallic knuckle-dragger full of greasy riffs from Mick Mars and larynx-shredding screams from short-lived Vince Neil replacement John Corabi. (Rolli)
14. Rick James, "Mary Jane"
From: Come Get It! (1978)
Subtlety was never one of Rick James' strongest suits. He was upfront about the things he liked, which pretty much amounted to sex and drugs. "She makes me feel all right," he sings in this ode to marijuana. (You didn't really think it was about a girl, did you?) The song marked James' second consecutive Top 3 single on the R&B chart from his debut album (following the breakout hit "You and I") and just missed the Top 40. And just in case you still weren't sure what "Mary Jane" was about, the late artist used to perform the song onstage surrounded by giant joints. (Michael Gallucci)
13. Allman Brothers Band, “Midnight Rider”
From: Idlewild South (1970)
One of the Allman Brothers' roadies, Kim Payne, was keeping watch at the band's warehouse one evening when Gregg Allman came by with half a song in his head. Joints were lit, and verses were written. "We were getting high," Payne later recalled, "and, honestly, he was starting to irritate me – because he was singing this song over and over, and I got sick of hearing the band play the same shit over and over again until they got it right. So I just threw out the line, 'I've gone past the point of caring / Some old bed I'll soon be sharing.'" (Rapp)
12. Neil Young, "Homegrown"
From: Homegrown (2020)
"Homegrown," like many songs from Neil Young's prolific but scattered '70s, was originally recorded for a shelved project - here, a 1975 album by the same name. He re-recorded the song with Crazy Horse for another unreleased record, Chrome Dreams. The song eventually ended up on 1977's hodgepodge American Stars 'n Bars. While much of the Homegrown album is about Young's imminent breakup with actress Carrie Snodgress, the title track concerns a less heavy subject. The LP finally came out in 2020. Chrome Dreams is still awaiting release. (Gallucci)
11. Tom Petty, "You Don’t Know How It Feels"
From: Wildflowers (1994)
Few ‘70s classic rock artists navigated the choppy waters of fast-changing trends throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s as competently as Tom Petty. In 1994, with the angst-ridden grunge revolution in full effect, he knocked out another career standard, recalling rock’s simpler concerns of yesteryear — namely, rolling another joint. "Every blue moon or so, I might have a toke on somebody's ... cigarette. It's an OK way to live your life, but it's not to be advised. I'm not going to say it's good or bad,” Petty explained during a VH1 Storytellers special. “But I wrote this song a while back, and I was trying to do this character in the song who was kind of down and looking for some company." (Eduardo Rivadavia)
10. The Byrds, “Eight Miles High”
From: Fifth Dimension (1966)
Not long after "Eight Miles High" was released in 1966, the song was banned from radio because of its supposed allusion to drug use. The Byrds insisted the song wasn't about that — the title was a reference to the height at which commercial airplanes fly, usually around six or seven miles, though it was decided that "eight" sounded more poetic while also nodding to the Beatles' "Eight Days a Week." "I stand as witness," Chris Hillman said in 2022. "It was never about that. Everybody was getting crazy about marijuana use, so we were immediately branded." (Rapp)
9. Neil Young, “Roll Another Number (For the Road)”
From: Tonight's the Night (1975)
Neil Young put in an Oscar-worthy performance as the convincingly stoned protagonist of this chuckle-inducing favorite from the otherwise somber Tonight’s the Night album. The LP may have focused primarily on addressing the dispiriting comedown of the ‘70s, following the liberating promises of the ‘60s, but with this song, at least, Young reminded listeners that a little smoke could still offer some means of escape from cold, harsh reality. (Rivadavia)
8. Bob Dylan, "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"
From: Blonde on Blonde (1966)
With his animated demands that “everybody must get stoned,” Bob Dylan simultaneously alienated much of his conservative folk music audience and instantly bonded with scores more rock music fans on this opening number. The legendary singer-songwriter has suggested there may be more to his song than meets the eye. “Some people still see 'Rainy Day Women' as coded about getting high,” Dylan noted to Rolling Stone in 2012. "It doesn't surprise me that some people would see it that way. But these are people that aren't familiar with the Book of Acts." (Rivadavia)
7. Lynyrd Skynyrd, “That Smell”
From: Street Survivors (1977)
Based on the title, one might think this song was an ode to marijuana’s pungent aroma. But “That Smell” is a morbid anti-drug track. Around the time it was written, many members of Lynyrd Skynyrd were using drugs ranging from weed to heroin. Things got so bad that Gary Rossington once nodded off behind the wheel of his car and crashed into a tree. The guitarist was seriously injured; his ordeal inspired singer Ronnie Van Zant to pen lyrics about the dangers of drug use: “Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars / Oak tree you're in my way / There's too much coke and too much smoke / Look what's going on inside you.” The chorus reveals what “that smell” truly is: the “smell of death.” (Irwin)
6. John Prine, "Illegal Smile"
From: John Prine (1971)
John Prine once said "Illegal Smile" wasn't about weed at all. "It was more about how, ever since I was a child, I had this view of the world where I can find myself smiling at stuff nobody else was smiling at," he said. "But it was such a good anthem for dope smokers that I didn't want to stop every time I played it and make a disclaimer." The late singer-songwriter's 1971 debut included some of his all-time greatest songs, including "Hello in There," "Sam Stone" and "Angel From Montgomery." It could be a greatest-hits record. "Illegal Smile" opens the album on a playful, insider note. (Gallucci)
5. Little Feat, “Willin”
From: Sailin' Shoes (1972)
Little Feat leader Lowell George poetically articulated the lengths to which he’d go to get himself some "weed, whites and wine” on his band’s best-known song. Too bad not enough music buyers paid enough attention to make "Willin'" the monster hit it should have been, perhaps because its bittersweet melodies disguised the “wink-wink” wordplay at hand with their sheer beauty. The band first recorded the song on its self-titled 1971 debut; they improved upon it a year later on their second LP, Sailin' Shoes. Linda Ronstadt took the song to a wider audience in 1974. (UCR Staff)
4. The Beatles, "Got to Get You Into My Life"
From: Revolver (1966)
Even though the Beatles first tried marijuana in 1964, by 1966's Revolver sessions they were deeper into mind-altering substances. Paul McCartney's "Got to Get You Into My Life," a horn-kissed tribute to American soul music, dances around the subject by veiling it in the form of romantic love. In the 1997 biography Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, McCartney confirmed to writer Barry Miles that "Got to Get You Into My Life" is "really a song about [pot], it's not to a person." As if there was much doubt as to what "Another road where maybe I could see some other kind of mind there" could be about. (Gallucci)
3. Black Sabbath, "Sweet Leaf"
From: Master of Reality (1971)
It’s no secret that drug use was prevalent in Black Sabbath, and this ode to marijuana shows that the band had no qualms about making their habit public. In the song, Ozzy Osbourne praises cannabis, saying things like “You introduced me to my mind” and “My life was empty, forever on a down / Until you took me, showed me around.” Still, it’s the song’s famous guitar riff that made it a classic, delivering a heavy foundation for Osbourne. “Sweet Leaf” not only proved to be the perfect opening track to the classic Master of Reality album, it almost single-handedly ushered in the stoner rock subgenre. (Irwin)
2. Steve Miller Band, “The Joker”
From: The Joker (1973)
This laid-back song came to Steve Miller as he was hanging out at a friend’s place in Northern California. “I got this funny, lazy, sexy little tune," he recalled to Mojo. "But it didn't come together until a party in Novato, north of San Francisco. I sat on the hood of a car under the stars with an acoustic guitar making up lyrics and 'I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, 'I'm a midnight toker' came out. My chorus!" References to a space cowboy, the gangster of love and Maurice comes from earlier Miller songs. “The Joker” became his band's first No. 1 and remains his defining song. (Irwin)
1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Mary Jane's Last Dance"
From: Greatest Hits (1993)
According to Tom Petty, "Mary Jane's Last Dance" wasn't written with marijuana in mind — at least he didn't think so. "I can't imagine that I'd write a song about pot," he said in the 2005 book Conversations With Tom Petty. "I don't think there's enough there to write about." That hasn't stopped fans from interpreting the song as an ode to Mary Jane, one of marijuana's many nicknames, and its ability to "kill the pain." In a 2003 interview with Songfacts, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell explained his perspective on the song's alleged drug reference: "My take on it is it can be whatever you want it to be." (Rapp)