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One Toke Over the Line (WORD)
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Brewer & Shipley are an American folk rock duo who enjoyed their peak success in the late 1960s through the 1970s, consisting of singer-songwriters Mike Brewer (born in 1944) and Tom Shipley (born in 1941). They were known for their intricate guitar work, vocal harmonies, and socially conscious lyrics which reflected the concerns of their generation — especially the Vietnam War, and the struggles for personal and political freedom.
Their greatest commercial success was the song "One Toke Over the Line" from their 1970 album Tarkio. They had two other singles on the Billboard charts: "Tarkio Road" (1970) and "Shake Off The Demon" (1971). They continue to perform, both separately and together, usually in the Midwest of the USA. The incident that sparked this song happened at the Vanguard in Kansas City, Missouri. The band was playing the show because, in seeking to escape the LA music scene, they started a tour of their Midwest homelands. Shipley reports that he was given a block of hash and told to take two hits. He ignored the advice and instead took three. Shipley recounts in The Vinyl Dialogues, "I go out of the dressing room - I'm also a banjo player, but I didn't have one, so I was playing my guitar - and Michael (Brewer) came in and I said, 'Jesus, Michael, I'm one toke over the line.' And to be perfect honest, I don't remember if Michael was with me when I took that hit or not. I remember it as 'not'; I think Michael remembers it as 'yes.' And he started to sing to what I was playing, and I chimed in and boom, we had the line."
Brewer also remembers the occasion. "I just cracked up," he said. "I thought it was hysterical. And right on the spot, we just started singing, 'One toke over the line, sweet Jesus,' and that was about it; then we went onstage."Some radio stations refused to play this song because of the drug references, but not everyone got this meaning. In 1971 the song was performed on the Lawrence Welk Show by the wholesome-looking couple Gail Farrell and Dick Dale, who clearly had NO clue what a toke was. Welk, at the conclusion of the performance of the song, remarked, without any hint of humor, "there you've heard a modern spiritual by Gail and Dale." Brewer and Shipley spent 35 years trying to find the performance. They finally found a woman in Branson, Missouri who had one. Shipley posted the clip to his Youtube account in 2007 (see below - lolololo), and ever since that moment, he says he's been trying to find a way to stop the automatic notifications that come in every time a comment is left on the video's page. "It just keeps filling up my email (inbox). But at the same time, I'm reticent to pull it down because so many folks like it." (Songfacts)
****REVISED January 26, 2019 - SR****