Eat Your Heart Out, Grace Slick

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One of the snappiest drug songs of the '30s, Cab Calloway's "Reefer Man," has made it to YouTube. Prairie Home Companion fans will note that it shares a melody with Garrison Keillor's little jingle for powdermilk biscuits. The tune probably predates both songs, but I still have to wonder about the "whole wheat" in Keillor's fictional product ("to give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done").

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  1. Garrison Keillor is a self-important bastard. A couple of years ago, I attended a performance of choral music recorded for airing on NPR Thanksgiving Day. Mr. Keillor was the MC and apparently was under the impression that it was his job to disrespect President Bush throughout the performance. I’m no fan of W, but every time he shot out a hubristic barb I thought, this is a choral performance, asswipe, give the politics a rest. What a pathetic distraction.

  2. Cool, but Cash’s “Cocaine Blues” is still the best drug song.

    It’s the perfect libertarian tune…take the risk, accept the results.

  3. A couple of years ago, I attended a performance of choral music recorded for airing on NPR Thanksgiving Day. Mr. Keillor was the MC and apparently was under the impression that it was his job to disrespect President Bush throughout the performance.

    I’ve always wondered if Keillor is aware that the ‘prarie home’ is, well, a red state region.

  4. But Paul, the pill that makes you small is what the competition makes. Go ask Alice if you don’t believe me.

  5. Just stop it. White Rabbit isn’t a drug song. Of course, Alice in Wonderland is a drug book, but that’s another topic altogether.

  6. Of course, Alice in Wonderland is a drug book, but that’s another topic altogether.

    And nowadays Dodgson would probably be a registered sex offender. But that really is another topic altogether.

  7. I’ve always wondered if Keillor is aware that the ‘prarie home’ is, well, a red state region.

    Are you kidding? The GOP hasn’t carried Minnesota since Nixon beat McGovern.

  8. That isn’t really the same tune as the Powdermilk Biscuits song, and it doesn’t go into “Shortnin’ Bread” like the Powdermilk Biscuits song. It has a couple notes and the tempo in common, and that’s about it.

  9. “I’ve always wondered if Keillor is aware that the ‘prarie home’ is, well, a red state region.”

    Minnesota is a blue state.

  10. That isn’t really the same tune as the Powdermilk Biscuits song

    Yeah, it is. It’s more obvious if you hear the version Calloway put on record, which isn’t quite as frenetic as this clip, but you can pick up the parallels in this version too. (Trying singing the “Powdermilk” lyrics while watching the YouTube film. You’ll see what I mean.)

  11. For crying out loud, Minnesota was the only state to go for Mondale in 1984… how much more stupidly partisan-liberal could they get?

    Keillor represents them perfectly, the nimrod.

  12. Jennifer and Paul:

    The second pill is what you should get from your doctor in the unlikely but serious event the condition persists for four hours or more.

  13. Of course, many fans will recognize this as the soundtrack for a very funny flash cartoon, “Dad’s Home.”

  14. Just stop it. White Rabbit isn’t a drug song. Of course, Alice in Wonderland is a drug book, but that’s another topic altogether.

    Feed your head!

  15. Stupid Garrison Keillor! Be more funny!

  16. Did someone mention Fats Waller?

    It’s four o’clock in the mornin’
    I just left the studio, here we are in Harlem
    Everybody’s here but the police,
    and they’ll be here any minute!
    It’s HIGH time so catch this song, here it ’tis…
    Dreamed about a reefer 5 feet long,
    a little bit high but not too strong.
    You’ll be high, but not for long,
    If you’re a viper!
    I’m the king of everything,
    got to (gottabe gottabe…) be high before I can sing.
    The sky is high and so am I,
    If you’re a viper!
    When your throat gets dry you know you’re high
    everything is dandy!
    Truck on down to the candy store,
    bust your mouth on peppermint candy!
    Now you know your body is sent
    You don’t give a darn if you don’t pay the rent
    Light that jay, let ’em play
    If you’re a viper!

  17. Wow, this topic has everything — pre-WWII drug songs and the opportunity to bash Garrison Keillor.

    One bit of ancient drug lore: one of the names for weed used to be “muggles.” Which always makes me smile inwardly when I’m reading Harry Potter to my kids.

  18. Isaac Bartram,

    Maybe, though I like to think he didn’t act on his weird impulses. But he was hanging out in opium dens–I know that with 100% certainty.

  19. I always thought that the second verse of the Cole Porter classic was something like……

    I get no kick from cocaine. But I get a kick outta you.

    Maybe not, but then again…..

  20. Pro Libertate at July 26, 2006 10:16 PM

    I doubt he ever physically acted on his impulses. However, his photograph collection would not pass muster in this witch-hunting age, even in Britain.

    I thought his drug use was considered a rumor. Since I do not know for certain i shall defer to your, as usual, superior knowledge.

    TWC

    “I get no kick from cocaine” is in the original song “I get a kick out of you”. Most singers leave that line out nowadays.

    We live in a stuffy boring age.

  21. We live in a stuffy boring age.

    In some ways. Then again, speaking of cocaine, there’s this. James Ellroy with a beat.

  22. Isaac Bartram, I was kidding. I have no idea whether Dodgson took opium or not. I just like the image of him reclining in an opium den while writing. In any event, he was an odd fellow, with or without any drug use.

  23. Pro Libertate

    Since my father (like Dodgson) was a mathmetician I have known a lot of mathmeticians. My impression is that mathmeticians do not as a rule need drugs to be strange. In fact I think the only discipline with more strange birds is physics. 🙂

    Of course, civil engineers are creatures of pure cold geometric logic. 🙂

  24. Isaac, you’re probably right about mathematicians and physicists. As for civil engineers, you can’t fool me. I had two civil engineers for roommates during my undergraduate days. They’re all insane and dangerous to others 🙂

  25. They’re all insane and dangerous to others

    SSSShhhhh!!!! Don’t tell everybody. 🙂

  26. Isaac, when I wanted to upset my civil engineering roommates, I called them “ditch diggers”. That really pissed them off to no end 🙂

    As an aside, we did build a monstrously large beer pyramid. That convinced me of the importance of civil engineering.

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