Better Know a Stoner Song – Linear High by Rick Bain & The Genius Position

You’ve almost certainly never heard of Rick Bain & The Genius Position. It’s not your fault. Let’s blame mass music marketing tactics, and the decline of the record label. I’m going to cover some Bain territory before arriving at the song at the bottom of this post.

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Rick Bain isn’t much for consistency in releasing albums (2000, 2004, 2020) or touring. Perhaps it’s just that Mr. Bain requires that much time to build the sonic profile that nests between your ears, and plays on repeat to your brain for days at a time. Perhaps Mr. Bain just releases an album when he wants to intensify his experience of this planet. I know not, but I do know this is Rock & Roll, and that I like it. Here are a couple of things that I have observed (probably incorrectly on a few) about Rick Bain, from afar, over the last two decades:

  • Rick Bain looks like he’d grow some killer weed, and he makes damn fine neo-psychedelic rock, so I’m loosely connecting the two.
  • Rick Bain isn’t much for chatting. (see pic ->)
  • Rick Bain plays somewhere around 3 shows per year in Portland. Go.
  • Rick Bain has the best photo shoots.
  • Rick Bain mysteriously released one album as just Rick Bain (2004), making me wonder if he was trying out new positions. Why would you break from Genius?
  • Rick Bain got his start and some significant buzz when he thoughtfully rearranged and recorded his version of The Beach Boy’s “Pet Sounds” on a 4 track recorder in 1997.
  • Rick Bain writes super tongue-in-cheek lyrics that still make you re-evaluate life choices & lost loves.
Rick Bain & The Genius Position’s first album. 5 fucking stars, man.

Rick Bain & The Genius Position released their first full length studio effort in 2000, entitled ‘Crooked Autumn Sun‘, and is as turbulent as the album cover (pictured, left).

Virtual Heavy Pet was the 2004 follow up, spawning singles in my mind such as “Black Apple Orchard”, and “Comin’ Round”, which tallied what seems a million plays each, in my mind, and certainly several dozen on Spotify. (To be clear, I generally buy physical CDs if I see the band, and definitely any modern high quality vinyl output.)

Fucking off when you were 25 was fun, but Rick Bain’s music from that time peroid makes many regret their wasted time.

Fast forward to late 2019, and Rick Bain mysteriously drops a live album, followed quickly by “Keep It Glowing”, which features several amazing tracks ready for release in Wonderland, where they are likely to go bonkers with radio play due to relevance, cheekiness, and odd, yet beautifully melodic chord pairings.

I highly encourage checking each recording out in due time.

In the meantime, please check out the track “Linear High”, just below the sample of lyrics I’ve included. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s the cut that drew me in to Rick Bain & The Genius Position. Enjoy!

“Party scenes of martyrs & kings,

Take two of these to amplify your dreams

It’s not as easy as you make it seem

You’ll like it better when you’re high”

Lyrics from “Linear High”

Rick Bain fucking rocks.

Better Know a Stoner Song – Champagne & Reefer by Muddy Waters

Fans of Muddy Waters know his timeless voice from a mile away, but even given his hallmark vocal abilities and dirty southern blues licks, if you knew Muddy, you knew to just call him ‘Mud’.

Born April 4th, 1913, in Mud’s impact on music was one of the most long tenured and wide ranging of any artist I have previously read about. Consider, the following influences that Mud had on the worldwide music scene:

  • The Rolling Stones took their name from Mud’s 1950 song “Rollin’ Stone”
  • Eric Clapton was his best man in 1979, when he married his second wife
  • He won 6 Grammy’s in the 1970s, after White music noticed that he had dominated the R&B charts from the mid 1950s thru the 60s.
  • The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame cites 4 of his songs among the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll.
  • He played with legends such as Bo Diddley,
  • Formerly Seattle based Ian Moore famously covered “Champagne & Reefer” for the now out-of-print “Hempilation” (1995) CD.
Muddy Waters in Paris, France, 1976. Photo by Lionel Decoster, used with permission CC BY-SA 4.0

Mud penned (1980), then included the forward thinking “Champagne & Reefer” on his 14th and final studio album, King Bee, in 1981.

Mud clearly and loudly championed cannabis in this song, and clearly understood the fact that cannabis is the safest “let your hair down” recreational drug that the American public broadly employs. Further, he relates the effect to one I have long believed in – the manifestation of love and togetherness that sprouts from cannabis consumption. On top of all of that, it’s just an incredible song from an incredible musician.

“Well you know there should be no law
on people that want to smoke a little dope.
Well you know it’s good for your head
And it relax your body don’t you know.

Everytime I get high
I lay my head down on my baby’s breast.
Well you know I lay down be quiet
Tryin’ to take my rest.
Well you know she done hug and kiss me
Says Muddy your one man that I love the best.”

Lyrics from “Champagne & Reefer”

Though Mud died in late April of 1983, his music continues to be discovered by youth and all walks of life, to this day. His legacy is enduring, and as people find his music broadly available, they will end up coming across the gem “Champagne & Reefer”, which you can find just below.

Better Know a Stoner Song – Crazy Rap by Afroman

Crazy Rap by Afroman

Any stoner born in the U.S. in the 90s will know this song. And a surprising amount will be able to sing it word-for-word. And while Crazy Rap” also known by its famous misnomer, Colt 45 & Two Zig-Zags, holds second place on Afroman’s hits, it takes first place for its influence among young people in the late 90s and early 2000s. While Because I Got High was more popular at the time of release of Afroman’s album The Good Times, Crazy Rap found its way into the culture through its catchy chorus, its over-the-top stories of Afroman’s sexual experiences, and its titular character, Afroman, who somehow makes it across the world smoking weed and meeting women.

Afroman the man is part of why “Crazy Rap” made its way into pop-culture. The over the top character whose story we get to listen to is at the same time funny and mischievous, and understanding of the diverse experiences of the world. Part of why his stories are so alluring comes from the fact that so much of what he raps about is based on his experiences, experiences that many of his listeners will never have. He raps about the experience of a black man in a white neighborhood, and the terrible prejudices that live on the surface. But he also raps about rolling up shitty weed and drinking cheap beer. He finds a way to unite a multitude of experiences and pains into a hilarious and catchy song.

In an interview from 2014, Afroman had this to say about the truth behind the stories featured in Crazy Rap, “I lie. That’s the first thing I’ll admit. About 83% of it is true. I never met Dolly Parton. Might as well have slept with the daughter of the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, though. Her dad was an L.A. County sheriff; he wasn’t the leader. I don’t know, though — I was just trying to get the hell out of there. I’ll e-mail him later tonight and find out.” (Westword).

In retrospect, Afroman may have been a two hit wonder. Afroman still makes his way across the country, playing shows at festivals and private venues to this day. In modern interviews Afroman speaks about how he is working to promote weed as a positive force, whereas some of his musical history frames the herb as a means of escapism. Aside from the change in tone, Afroman has pivoted to spend more time on the technical side of his music, putting a greater emphasis on his guitar playing, the thing that got him into music in the first place.

Better know a stoner song – “Up In Smoke” by Immigrant Union

Yeah, so it’s a cover…. So what? The video, alone, makes it worth its weight in pressed vinyl. Music by Tommy Chong, and lyric credits include both Cheech & Chong, they originally inked this modern pop/country classic with the movie ‘Up in Smoke’ in mind.

However, this version features a better metered approach to the music, which makes it a bit more peppy. Immigrant Union is an Australian band fronted by a dude named Bob that I met once in Portland, at a cool recording studio. When they first got going, this band featured Courtney Barnett for a while. Another dude, Mitchell, who grows weed for Bondi Farms introduced me, and we all smoked a fatty blunt together on New Year’s Eve of 2019 -> 2020. Good times.

Better Know a Stoner Song – “Day N’ Nite” by Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi has no problem tackling serious issues in his lyrics. We’ve all felt a little hopeless and lost some times, but my personal takeaway is that the subject of this song is a self medicating man with is grappling with some large questions surrounding his life. We’ve all been there, right?

The lonely stoner is swimming through self reflection, life analysis, romance remembrance, and a path forward. It’s kind of sad, but hey — we don’t always turn to cannabis during a party, do we?

Am I off-base, here?