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20 Best Country Songs to Play While Getting High

From modern cannabis classics by Kacey Musgraves and Eric Church to oldies but goodies by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

These days, country music may present itself as more squeaky clean than hell-raising, but don’t let the often manicured image fool you: country still likes to sing about its weed. Kacey Musgraves, Brothers Osborne and Florida Georgia Line all keep the flame burning that Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash and, of course, Willie Nelson sparked up years ago. Even Kenny Rogers has had a hand in getting country music stoned. They’re all included here, in this list of the 20 best country tracks to play while smoking a little smoke. Or chewing on some edibles, if you prefer.

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Emmylou Harris, “Jupiter Rising”

Harris stumbles into grace with this funky salute to getting busy, written alongside her former husband, Paul Kennerley. An earthy, joyous jumble of organ, noodling guitar, gospel harmonies and astrology mumbo-jumbo, “Jupiter Rising” nods to Harris’ early days, back when she was swapping harmonies with country-rock hippie Gram Parsons. Red Dirt Girl? How about Red-Eyed Girl?

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Waylon Jennings, “Waymore’s Blues”

If you want to get to heaven you’ve got to D-I-E,” sings Waylon Jennings on this Seventies outlaw classic that showed just how slyly the legend could rock. “You gotta put on your coat and T-I-E.” It’s a simple couplet, perfect for mulling over in an intoxicated state of mind: this is country, existential style. As the lore goes, the track cuts off abruptly because an argument in the studio forced Jennings to use a version of the song that never intended to be heard – so part of the fun is not only enjoying his particular breed of Southern badass, but also imagining what may have gone on behind closed doors. And if you can’t use your imagination while high, then what’s the point?

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Willie Nelson, “Sitting in Limbo”

Willie Nelson and reggae go together like, well, Willie and weed, so it was no surprise when the Texas legend tapped into the spirit of Jamaica on 2005’s Countryman. On “Sitting in Limbo,” Nelson blends his Lone Star spirit with that classic off-beat island swank, and the result is a perfect merging of minds – and also the perfect soundtrack to scrambling yours to oblivion. Released first by Jimmy Cliff, “Sitting in Limbo” was often covered by Jerry Garcia, and it’s deceptively deeper than its infectious groove would suggest. “Sitting here in limbo, got some time to search my soul,” sings Nelson: he might allow plenty of time to get high, but he’s not going to waste those moments on mindlessness, either. 

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Sir Douglas Quintet, “At the Crossroads”

Sir Douglas Quintet, formed by Doug Sahm – perhaps one of country’s most unsung, soulful voices – took the psychedelic groove of Seventies rock and infused it with Texas grit, coming out with tracks like “At the Crossroads” that teeter between introspective jam and euphoric wayward drifter. With a smooth bass line, vox organ and Sahm’s delivery that’s booming, bold and broken, “At the Crossroads” doesn’t need to be listened to high to be transporting, but it certainly can’t hurt. It’s the kind of song made for closed eyes and open minds, when there’s nothing else in life to focus on but the music itself. 

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Johnny Cash, “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”

Written by Kris Kristofferson and made a hit by Johnny Cash, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is not for those who seek a shallow high: devastatingly honest and packed with pain, it’s as sad as it is classic. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and reflection, but, for Kristofferson, it was one of despair, and this 1969 song was written after his wife and child deserted him in Nashville. “And there’s nothing short a’ dying / That’s half as lonesome as the sound / Of the sleeping city sidewalk / And Sunday morning coming down,” Cash sings. Time spent stoned has a way of forcing us to focus on what matters, and this track doubles down on that promise.  

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Gretchen Wilson, “Grandma”

Working too much. Not spending enough time with the kids. Never seeing the Eiffel Tower. Typical end-of-life regrets, to which Gretchen Wilson adds something new: never getting high. On this track from 2013’s Right on Time, Wilson follows a 92-year-old grandma who has never been stoned and suddenly realizes what she has been missing. As she looks at, if her exhales are numbered, they might as well contain a little smoke. Even if you’re not 92 and picking up the pipe for the first time, there’s a lesson to be had: it’s never too late to seize the day. “You live your life until it’s gone,” sings Wilson in her raspy, Midwest drawl, encouraging grandma to YOLO with a little THC.

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Kacey Musgraves, “High Time”

Kacey Musgraves got the shaft from country radio for referencing weed on “Follow Your Arrow.” Nevertheless, she persisted, repeatedly sing about pot over and over again on her second album, Pageant Material. That’s the rebel spirit alive and well. The beauty of “High Time” isn’t only in nods to the green stuff, but in the atmosphere: with handclaps, whistles and strings, it’s a relaxed breed of country perfect for reconnecting with life outside the fast lane. “I’ve been too low, so it’s high time,” sings Musgraves. If she can ditch the pageantry and the pressures, so can we. 

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Aaron Lee Tasjan, “Hard Life”

Tasjan rides a stoned, swampy groove on this Silver Tears standout, offering up plenty of baked wordplay (“It’s quite a feat how they keep stepping on your toes“) along the way. A song about the various bummers of modern-day life – including cops, homophobes and Millennial malaise – “Hard Life” cushions its blow with blasts of brass and barroom piano, with Tasjan’s acoustic guitar gluing everything together.

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Phosphorescent, “Reasons to Quit”

Any self-respecting toker would queue up Willie Nelson in their required listening, but Phosphorescent’s take on the Red Headed Stranger casts a new spin on those timeless songs thanks to singer Matthew Houck’s ethereal palate. Nelson and Merle Haggard’s original self-aware stoner anthem gets a modern sheen on To Willie, Phosphorescent’s 2009 tribute LP. It’s never smart to be totally unaware of the consequences of getting high, and Phosphorescent ups that quotient here – it’s just a touch more battered and broken than the original, while still being beautiful, a sonic reminder of what gets passed over when you always pass the J. 

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Jason Boland, “When I’m Stoned”

In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer and … for stoned and sober? All anyone ever wants to do is to be loved, and there’s nothing better than finding someone who loves you, habits and all. Especially when those habits include getting high. On Red Dirt ruffian Jason Boland’s “When I’m Stoned,” from 2009’s Somewhere in the Middle, an understanding partner gets the honky-tonk treatment. “Don’t want me in an office or in a three-piece suit,” he sings. Boland’s reminding us never to settle for a nagging lover, and “When I’m Stoned” is the perfect anthem for anyone who needs a little courage to a kick judgmental one to the curb.

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Zac Brown Band, “Toes”

Co-written with fellow Atlanta resident Shawn Mullins, “Toes” finds Brown sitting ankle-keep in tropical water, enjoying the virtues (and vices) of island life, with baking outside in the hot weather the only thing on his to-do list. “Gonna lay in the hot sun and roll a big fat one and grab my guitar and play,” he says, clearly more interested in pot than piña coladas. Behind him, the band builds its way toward a bilingual chorus that sings the praises of tequila, muchachas and marijuana.