Track of the Day: 'One Toke Over the Line' by Gail Farrell and Dick Dale

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Reader Mike Kludt really lives up to the daily 4:20 p.m. timestamp for our Track of the Day feature:

I’m not sure I’d call these transformative, but they are eye-and-ear-catching. A friendly discussion of Bob Dylan led me to this: Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs playing a bluegrass version of Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.” The sound is so completely different from Dylan’s, yet you can see a similar mischievousness in their faces as they play. Hearing two veteran bluegrass performers sing “everybody must get stoned” is priceless.

While channel surfing recently, I happened upon that fount of surreal covers, The Lawrence Welk Show. There on my television were Gail Farrell and Dick Dale singing “One Toke Over The Line” [seen above]. At first I couldn’t believe this snuck by Lawrence; perhaps the references to Jesus and Mary gave it cover as a spiritual. But I realized that despite the overt mention of marijuana use, it isn’t really a pro-drug song; the main character is in pretty rough shape. (Seeing Myron Floren choke on the introduction is good for a chuckle, too.)

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