Tox Tunes #82: One Toke Over the Line (Lawrence Welk)

April 27, 2014, 11:51 am

In a September 1970 speech at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, vice President Spiro Agnew attacked the “creeping permissiveness” pervading American society and the influence of drugs that “threatens to sap our national strength.” He singled out some then popular songs that he identified as “latent drug culture propaganda.”

One of the songs he had in mind was Brewer & Shipley‘s 1970 hit “One Toke Over the Line.” According to some reports, Agnew pressured the FCC to ban the song from radio airwaves.

Ironically, the next year, The Lawrence Welk Show — one of the most wholesome and clean-cut musical variety shows ever to appear on television — featured a version of “One Toke Over the Line” sung by the duo Gail Farrell and Dick Dale. (No, not that Dick Dale.) At the end, Welk called the song a “modern spiritual,” apparently having no clue as to the meaning of the word toke.

This segment is legendary, but the clip had been impossible to obtain until it surfaced several years ago. It is hilarious and a priceless representation of the massive clash of cultures at the time. “Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones””

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