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On August 27, 2019
SamJones 68 +1 +2 (harmony)
One Toke Over The Line
Brewer & Shipley
144 Comments | 215 Views
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This song has always been very interesting to me for several reasons. One of those reasons is because it is so catchy. It really sticks in your head. It is also quite intricate. Brewer & Shipley were known for their clever guitar cross-play and intertwining lyrical singing style--and nowhere is that more evident than here on their biggest hit--especially the bits at the end.
I have also found its history both entertaining and amusing. The genesis for the song was a line uttered by one of the songwriters. He and his bandmate were sitting around waiting for a train one day when he looked over at the other and said simply. "I'm one toke over the line, man." For those not familiar with drug culture, this meant he had taken one too many puffs off of a marijuana cigarette. That one extra puff had pushed him over the line--from having a good buzz, to feeling too stoned to really function. It was this idea of taking one step over the line that got to me because it applies to so many areas of life. Like when people take things just one more step, for example, and wind up taking the fun out of a situation, losing their temper or maybe engaging in an activity they regret later.
Another interesting thing about this song is how it has been perceived so differently by so many people. As just one example, Lawrence Welk, believing it to be a gospel song had some of his singers perform it live on national television. As another Jerry Garcia, believing it to be a drug song, liked it so much that he and his band, the Grateful Dead, began performing it regularly at their concerts. The release of the song also landed Brewer & Shipley on Richard Nixon's famous enemies list after Vice President Spiro Agnew deemed the song subversive and pushed the FCC to ban the song from the airwaves. And then there are others, like me, who see it as a lesson in temperance. As a reminder to think about the repercussions of your actions before you take that fateful step over the line.
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