Songs In The Key of L

The other day, and for a reason I can’t remember, my dad and I were discussing the song Got To Get You Into My Life. (Actually, it’s not that unusual that we were discussing it, because if I’ve inherited anything from him – aside from my fabulous high cheekbones – it’s his love of oldies music. I’ve been hooked on it since I was a child: sitting in the backseat of his yacht-sized, baby blue Pontiac, as I soaked in the hits of yesteryear that played on his radio.) Anyway, when I mentioned the song, I thought I knew everything because when he mentioned the song was originally recorded by The Beatles, I was all, nuh-uh! Earth, WInd and Fire were the originators!

But a quick Google search knocked my ass offa my high horse, because guess what? That’ll learn me to try and school my elders.

While reading the source (which was totally not Wikipedia) that proved my father right, I also learned that the song was not about a woman, but weed. I know, right? Criz-azy thought, that: the Beatles singing about drugs! But, yup, the song, apparently, CHRONICled (please don’t kill me) McCartney’s first experience with the ganja, as recorded on the Fab Four’s 1966 album, Revolver. Like so:

I took a ride, I didn’t know what I would find there/Another road where maybe I could see some other kind of mind there

What can I do? What can I be? When I’m with you, I wanna stay there/If I am true/I will never leave, and if I do, I will know the way there

(I wonder if these kids realized what they were singing about. My money’s on WGWG.)

If you didn’t know better, though, you’d think it was about a woman, wouldn’t you? While it seems that the Beatles were the first to use the weed-as-lover metaphor – maybe they were maybe they weren’t – they certainly wouldn’t be the last. (Please note: I’m specifically referring to the metaphor, not songs generally about weed, because there are, of course, about thirty killion of those!)

Brown Sugar

The title track off of D’Angelo’s 1994 album seems to be referring to a brown-skinned woman, but as I said earlier in this post, nuh-uh! Although these lyrics are a little more transparent that the Beatles’, and at the same time, offer more ambiguity.

Brown sugar babe/I gets high off your love/Don’t know how to behave

Always down for a menage-a-trois/But I think I’ma hit it solo/Hope my niggaz don’t mind

Mary Jane

Given the title of this track from Rick James’ 1978 album, Come Get It, this is a “well, duh.” But some of the lyrics offer the same ambiguity that D’Angelo’s do.

I’m in love with Mary Jane/I’m not the only one/If Mary wanna play around/I let her have her fun/She’s not the kind of girl/That you can just tie down

Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Hope you were sufficiently creeped out! You’re welcome.

This offering from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ 1993 album, Wildflowers, may seem like a “well, duh” as well, except it’s not actually clear if this song’s content is as obvious as we may believe. Just take a look at the quote below, courtesy of one of the Heartbreakers, which I totally did NOT screen cap from WIkipedia.

Given that the song title was changed after it was written, it could be Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Read below and you be the judge!

Last dance with Mary Jane/One more time to kill the pain

And now I’ll leave you with the best song about weed eva! Sung by twelve year olds! Who replaced “kutchie” with “dutchie”! And are fooling no one! Because there’s no way in hell that “a ring of dreads” would be passing around a dutch pot. Puh-lease.


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