Drug Policy

Der Bingle or Der Bongle?


Word that Bing Crosby was a big pot smoker suddenly makes so much about his music and demeanor, not to mention his performances, make more sense. Take the clip above, which is from The Road to Morocco. It helps explain what Der Bingle is rolling and what he and Bob Hope are doing in North Africa in the first place (decades before Crosby, Stills, & Nash boarded the Marrakesh Express).

From Destiny-land, the happiest blog on Earth, comes this:

Things I didn't know about Bing Crosby

A 2001 biography of Crosby by Village Voice jazz critic Gary Giddins says that Louis Armstrong's influence on Crosby "extended to his love of marijuana." Bing smoked it during his early career when it was legal and "surprised interviewers" in the 1960s and 70s by advocating its decriminalization, as did Armstrong. Crosby even recommended that his son smoke pot instead of drinking alcohol, if Wikipedia is to be believed. They quote his son as saying that "There were other times when marijuana was mentioned and he'd get a smile on his face…."

More here.

And it makes the Bowie-Bing Drummer Boy shtick a little more understandable too.

NEXT: The Enlightened Despotism of Chinese-Style Family Planning

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. First Pat Robertson. Now this. Exactly whrn did we veer off into an alternate universe?

  2. Gateway drug for weird performances.

  3. Not that smoking pot necessarily makes you cool, or not smoking pot necessarily makes you not cool.

  4. Maybe Bing should have introduced his wife to pot instead of booze.

  5. WTF… all these years I thought that was Jamie Lee Curtis singing with Bing.

    Does that mean David Bowie isn’t married to Nigel Tufnel?

  6. The editors must have been smoking up too, because the cigarettes (be they tobacco or wacky tobaccy) disappeared from Bing’s shirt pocket at :19.

    1. I can believe both stories, and strangely, they reinforce my current prejudices: I like Grant, and I don’t like Crosby.

      I’m not sure why. Maybe the thought talking fast with an ambiguous accent on acid just entertains me more than boring, half-lidded baritone.

      1. “The Little Drummer Boy” is playing right now on loudspeakers in the deepest levels of Hell.

        1. Yes, I can’t hear the person next to me shouting in the grocery store. I don’t see what this has to do with quality cinema and the beast regulating God’s candy.

      2. You have a prejudice for acid and against pot? Seems like a weird combination.

        1. No, for Grant and against Crosby.

          The drugs are irrelevant to me, and I don’t use them; what’s interesting is how they’re put to use.

          1. Oh. So how exactly do the two stories reinforce your prejudices? Forgive my confusion. Must be the weed.

  7. You can call it shtick if you want to, but it’s beautiful shtick.

    They’ll never be another duet quite like it.

    1. I wasn’t schtick, it was just unlistenable. I’d rather hear the Wham! christmas song than that.

    2. Agreed.

      Bowie rocks.

  8. Doobie, doobie, do…

    1. I thought your shtick was B…B…B…Boo?

  9. So Bob Hope was pulling our dicks when he portrayed himself as Mr. Conservative?

  10. First Pat Robertson, then Lawrence Welk, now Bing Crosby? At this rate, there will soon be no more “conservative icons” left standing against pot. Then what?

    1. I actually meant, “standing credibly against pot prohibition,” of course. 😉

      It gave me pause to consider that I actually saw this first-run. In its way, it was as much of a “crystal moment” as Jacko’s “moon walk,” which I also saw first run on the “Mowtown 25 special.”

      The memory of the Bowie/Crosby duet was still fresh when I encountered a copy of “Hey Jude…Hey Bing!” in the cut-out bins of the local Radio Shack in the small town where I lived at the time. To this day, this licorice pizza is one of my prized possessions.

    2. Do you mention Lawrence Welk because of his show’s improbable cover of “One Toke Over the Line”? I don’t think he even knew what a toke was. Since he called it “a modern spiritual,” he must have thought the song was about Jesus.

      1. We talked this one over in another thread. Maybe LW didn’t know what was going on when his people covered OTOTL, and maybe he did but didn’t let on. From his coughing, hacking intro, though — something that, amazingly, got onto air at a time when videotape was used to record the LW Show and was also well-established as a method to avoid such problems — it seems likely that Myron Floren DID understand, and that his reaction was part of the act. Which is likelier, I wonder: that LW was completely clueless on this occasion, or that his staff of musicians and performers, were all so clueless about the stuff (not to mention THIS particular song, which had been demonized by the White House that very week!), as to be unable to warn LW about the gaffe he was about to commit on nationwide TV? Not much of a “musical family,” is it, if they let the “patriarch” make a fool out of himself in front of millions. So rather than think that LW was clueless and/or that the hip among his staff were backstabbing tricksters, I prefer to think he was at least a little complicit in the whole deal. Maybe Floren’s coughing was a way of helping to establish “plausible deniability” for his boss — taking one for the team as the ringleader of the joke, if the FCC or Standards and Practices came knocking. Who knows? YMMV. Bear in mind, though, that ABC dumped LW in 1971 as part of the same wave of programming changes that scuttled Hee Haw, Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and many other hugely popular “rural appeal” shows that skewed older and tended to run earlier at night. Welk moved to syndication soon thereafter; perhaps at the time LW covered OTOTL, the writing was on the wall, and so doing a song that the Federal government and FCC had condemned was Welk’s way to thumb his nose at the network suits, given that he had nothing to lose.

        I can believe that politicians were completely clueless and that their staffs did not watch their backs, when so many political campaigns and officials latched onto Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” as a “patriotic anthem” without a hint of irony. It is much harder for me to believe that a troupe of professional musicians, operating out of Hollywood, even one as allegedly clean-living as Welk’s, would be unaware of OTOTL’s overt drug references, which the government itself had recently denounced. I wish we knew the true story, but until we do, I’m provisionally putting Welk in the anti-drug War camp. Maybe he didn’t endorse the use of drugs (except champagne, of course!), but you don’t have to promote drug use to deplore the Drug War. Lawrence Welk: Pioneer anti-prohibitionist, Clueless Buffoon, or Sly tweaker of TV Exec noses? You be the judge!

  11. My understanding is that Bing was a real SOB to his kids. Maybe he wasn’t getting enough pot to satisfy his needs.

  12. I was going to mention this as well. He was supposedly a tyrant to his kids. Pot apparently didn’t mellow him out.

    1. He just didn’t get enough of it! Think how shitty he would have been with none at all.

      Seriously, I know a bunch of people who need to toke up on a regular basis, but they won’t because it’s illegal. I believe it would make them much less odious human beings.

    2. “He was supposedly a tyrant to his kids.”
      Maybe he was, maybe not. Personally I tend to ignore the mewling of the spoiled children of the Hollywood crowd.

      IMO, abuse for that bunch tends to be when daddy refuses to pay for junior’s acupuncture and high colonic treatments…

    3. Pot doesn’t “mellow people out”, it’s just an experience that mellow people tend to enjoy. But I know plenty of high-strung and/or aggressive people who smoke pot, and it doesn’t have any long-term effect on their demeanor.

      1. I was thinking about this the other day:

        I think that if mj was legal across the board, it would have something of a mellowing effect on society in general. Not because I don’t agree with you, Rhayader, but because I think some people would drink less alcohol.

        I mean, sometimes I’d like to just chill and watch tv or a movie or play video games, but I can’t just go to the corner market and buy a bag. I can, however, go to the corner market and buy a shitload of alcohol. And I must say, that I’m way more agro when I’m drinking than when I’m smoking…

        Of course, that’s just me.

  13. “It’s only a Kangoroo” Great.

  14. Bing was the real thing. He and Armstrong were probably the most important jazz vocalists in the Twentieth Century and suffered from the same problem: they seemed to enjoy what they did too much to taken seriously.

  15. Gawd, you fuckers are old.

    1. Get off our lawn!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.