I was a late bloomer when it came to smoking weed.
I largely missed out during my early youth due to lack of access, and also copious amounts of anti-drug brainwashing. I sadly bought into many misconceptions of marijuana, and actively tried to distance myself from those who smoked it. With time and growth I came to understand weed for what it truly was, and around the age of 21, became what I was always destined to be: a massive stoner.
I grew up loving rock music and horror movies, and it blew my mind to discover just how much weed enhanced the experience of enjoying these things. Actually, weed just about enhances every experience—but that’s a discussion for another time. In this piece I’d like to document my personal experience with smoking weed and listening to music, and how it changed my life for the better. In a way, music helped me understand one of the many appeals of marijuana, and this piece will trace my journey from close-mindedness to enlightenment.
There’s a reason why stoners are so frequently connected to bands like Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead. It’s largely to do with the fact that their music is fucking amazing, but even moreso when ripped out of your mind. I distinctly remember the first piece of music I heard while completely blitzed—Pink Floyd’s sprawling epic “Echoes.” The song begins with a high-pitched pinging; a motif that returns, and reverberates throughout the track. Like grains of sand in the hourglass of space and time slowly trickling, the hypnotic ping lures you into the submarine world the Floyd have created. From there, the song drifts along the surface of that realm, with a breezy, mysterious accompanying melody. This devolves into a funky jam, before really getting to the meat of this masterpiece. What follows is a cacophony of chaotic drones and squeals. It’s as if you’ve been transported to some alien planet; stranded within an ethereal fog, as strange creatures bark out in the darkness around you. But eventually the fog clears; Rick Wright’s beautiful organ hums its way to the foreground, and the pinging motif from the beginning of the song cries out once more. Like some foreign siren calling you to its embrace, like Poseidon himself beckoning you to join him in the briny depths, the band returns in full, building on the organ and crescendoing to a triumphant guitar-laden climax.
I’ve seen this world many times, and I visit it each time I smoke and listen to that record. This is not only the magic of Pink Floyd, but also the magic of mind-expanding weed. As many will tell you, weed enhances your experience listening to music such as this, because it’s allowing your imagination to flow freely. It allows us to step outside of our heads for a moment and to be somewhere else. When I’m stoned, there’s nothing else but the music. I can live in that world properly, without intrusive thoughts interfering.
Escapism Through Cannabis and Art
From then on, I started smoking almost every time I listened to records, and I would eventually smoke at my first concert when I saw Rush play live with some of my close friends. Rush fans are the best, and this statement was only further confirmed when a die-hard fan of the band passed around a joint to me and my friends. As the band launched into “Subdivisions”, I took a massive drag on the joint and left Earth for another planet. In that moment I had an epiphany as Geddy Lee sang “Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth.” It made sense suddenly why weed and music go so well together—they’re both two forms of escape that when combined create the ultimate break from the cold clutches of reality.
Now more than ever, a lot of us need a break from life. Weed and music heightens the sense of escapism, and allows us to exist in another place if only for a brief time. The concert also sounded better. There’s no doubt that weed enhances your listening ability, especially in terms of being able to differentiate between the many elements in the mix. When stoned out of my mind, I can separate each instrument and focus on the individual components of any song. I’m always hearing things in a record mix that I never caught before, only because I’m high. A similar experience applies to live concerts, where you can really hear every note that is being played on stage. Whether it’s singling out the low end of a record, or hearing nuances of a record’s production, weed enables a listening superpower slumbering inside each of us. With the help of marijuanna, one can hear their favorite records in a new, untainted way.
Life has a tendency to break us down. As the years pass, we find ourselves increasingly less enthused. As I’ve grown older I’ve found that experiences and memories can begin to lose their magic. It used to be that I could put on a Genesis or Rush LP and immediately feel a sense of security and comfort. I think we all have works of art tied to emotions such as these. We all have comfort films we watch when we’re feeling down. But what happens when that comfort begins to go cold? It wasn’t until I began smoking weed and listening to music that I found myself in tune once more with that powerful feeling.
I get stoned, I put on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, I close my eyes—suddenly it’s 2007 again. I’m 15 years old, listening to Genesis records in my best friend’s basement. We’re playing Mario Kart Wii and listening to prog rock. No depression, no bills, no worries. Weed and music allow me to visit this place and time once more—in this way, they allow me to be free. While the harsh realities of modern society may diminish one’s spirit, weed and music can offer a reprieve.
I’m not saying you need to smoke weed to enjoy music or be happy. But it sure helps lighten the load.