In the Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous, William Miller’s mother (played by Frances McDormand) doesn’t want him listening to rock n’ roll because she believes it is synonymous with drugs and promiscuous sex. Pointing to the eyes of Simon and Garfunkel on the cover of their record Bookends, she confidently declares, “Honey, they’re on pot.” Hey, mom was probably right.
Marijuana inspires all forms of music, not just the rock genre. A lot of influential artists of the generations have been known to partake in pot, many going on to become poster children for cannabis advocacy.
Those who never speak on the issue, well, we just assume they’re too high to comment. After all, they’re artistes, so they’ve got to be nine kinds of fucked up! It couldn’t be that they’re uncool and don’t support tolerance in the realm of drug reform.
The creative community is supposedly ultra-uninhibited and liberal-minded, so why would anyone making music, films or penning literature stand against the plant? And if they did, would we still like their art?
At a recent show in San Diego, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden went redneck on a group of people in the front row for smoking marijuana. “There’s so many fucking people smoking so much fucking dope down here, I’m amazed you can even see,” Dickinson declared.
“Poor old Steve. I don’t know if you know, but he absolutely fucking hates marijuana and the smell of it, alright? So when he’s trying to play bass, it fucks him up. It fucks me up. I’m a singer, all right? So duh.”
Dickinson, who suffered from throat cancer in 2015, went on to urge anyone getting stoned to leave the front.
“I would just ask for a tiny bit of respect — if you want to go get completely stoned out of your fucking mind, go out the back and do it. All right? Otherwise, you’re going to end up like this fucking knucklehead here going ‘uhhhh.'”
Dickinson’s anti-weed comments disturbed some concert goers. “Bruce is a big hater,” one fan declared. There was even some backlash from the metal community. Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta, who is highly revered within the metal scene, took to Twitter the other day in an attempt to educate Dickinson about how many fans, even those who listen to Iron Maiden, enjoy catching a buzz during performances. “Lots of people like to smoke weed at outdoor concerts,” he wrote. “WHAT DOESN’T ANNOY YOU BRO?!?! Besides flying planes? lol you might need a puff or 2.”
So, does Bruce get canceled?
Listen, I’ve been a fan of Maiden since I was a little whippersnapper, barely old enough to wipe my own nose. Their album Live After Death is, in my opinion, a historical marker of true heavy metal, setting a gold standard for live recordings that no other band has been able to match since its release. Not even KISS ALIVE holds a candle to this sonic masterpiece. Scream for me Long Beach! So, Dickinson’s negative stance on marijuana doesn’t change my opinion of the band. Not at all.
But that’s me.
I’m arguably a bigger Maiden fan than I am of marijuana. I could probably do without weed, but if someone told me that I could never listen to “2 Minutes to Midnight” ever again, I might lose my will to live. Okay, maybe I’m being overly dramatic.
The point is, for me, metal, music in general, takes precedence over pot. Some hardcore cannabis advocates don’t share in this sentiment. They only have that kind of fist-in-the-air allegiance for the cannabis plant.
For them, regardless of whether it’s an artist that they’ve enjoyed listening to for years, a negative stand against marijuana is enough of a backhand for them to forever jettison their fanatic status.
“Can’t say that I can be a fan of anyone who’s against weed,” Ralph, a 33-year-old from Lexington, Kentucky told The Bluntness. He’s a loyal Phish fan, so he doesn’t think this scenario will ever be a problem. “I might still listen to the music, but I’ll be less enthusiastic about the band.”
Meanwhile, many pot aficionados believe that it’s the artist’s prerogative to support the plant or not. Go ahead and be a straight edge, get off my lawn howling boomer. These people don’t give two flying squirts if the bands they listen to subscribe to the same pothead politics, they’re still going to smoke weed and listen to their music. They’re fans.
“Doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, good music is good music,” Wayne from Southern Indiana told The Bluntness. “I don’t base my tastes on the artists’ personal views or politics. I’m a huge advocate for nationwide legalization but that’s my opinion, they are just as entitled to their opinions as I am to mine.”
If there’s one thing most agree on, however, is that they don’t appreciate when an artist gets on a soapbox to preach their political affiliations. “More cowbell and less committee!” declared Alyssa from Hyde Park, New York.
Other than that, live and let live. Smoke or don’t smoke. Get high, stay sober, nobody cares. “We go to hear a concert, not their beliefs. That includes cannabis,” James from Powder Springs, Georgia told us.
A lot of the great art in this world was created under the influence of mind-altering substances – marijuana arguably being the most popular – but that doesn’t mean we must subscribe to an artist’s drug policies to enjoy their creations.
Most music fans continue to support their favorite artists regardless of where they stand personally and even politically. If they are drunks, shoot heroin, got sober, voted for Trump, became vegan, or married their stepdaughter (that one’s for all the Woody Allen buffs), that holds no bearing.
Just entertain us, change our lives, give us something to help escape the mundanity of the grind. If we dig too deep, we spoil the fun, and our perceptions of that artist may enter a reality for which we may not be too keen. There’s enough about this wild existence that we have to take seriously, but music shouldn’t be one of them.
Let’s just jam!
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