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Music

Every song that The Beatles wrote about weed

It is a well-known fact that The Beatles wrote many songs about drugs and, more crucially, that their relationship with narcotics gave them many of their finest moments ranging from ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to ‘I am the Walrus’. Whilst it is certain that their experiences with LSD impacted the Fab Four’s songwriting more than any other hedonistic tipple, the sweet green leaf, marijuana, also provided the band a string of excellent tracks. 

It has long been claimed that The Beatles first came into contact with weed after a show during their days in Hamburg in 1960, but that it didn’t touch the sides. Guitarist George Harrison later recalled: “Everybody was saying, ‘This stuff isn’t doing anything.’ It was like that old joke where a party is going on and two hippies are up floating on the ceiling, and one is saying to the other, ‘This stuff doesn’t work, man.'”

However, four years later, on August 28th, 1964, their lives were changed forever. Staying at the Delmonico Hotel on New York’s Park Avenue, the band met one of their songwriting heroes, Bob Dylan, for the first time, and he showed them the real wonders of weed.

At the time, the Fab Four were relaxing at the hotel after the first of their two historic dates at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens and were tucking into dinner with Brian Epstein and Neil Aspinall, courtesy of room service. Elsewhere in the hotel was Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, and radio DJ Murray the K, and all were hoping to meet John Lennon and Co. 

Dylan was driven from his Woodstock home to the hotel by his road manager Victor Maymudes, and, on the way, they picked up the writer Al Aronowitz, a mutual friend of his and The Beatles who had set up the rendezvous. Shortly after arriving – and declining champagne and purple hearts – Dylan wasted no time in offering the group some grass

In the book Anthology, John Lennon is quoted as saying: “I don’t remember much what we talked about. We were smoking dope, drinking wine and generally being rock ’n’ rollers and having a laugh, you know, and surrealism. It was party time.”

What ensued was one of the best times The Beatles had ever had, and afterwards, they were rapt by the drug. This was the start of their foray into the magical world of narcotics, and life, for them and everybody else would never be the same again. 

Duly, we’ve listed all the songs The Beatles wrote about weed, and whilst there aren’t many, it certainly set them on their path to becoming the greatest band the world has seen, helping them to change their creative course and become truly experimental. 

Every song The Beatles wrote about weed:

‘She’s A Woman’ – The Beatles For Sale (1964)

The earliest reference to weed in The Beatles’ discography, ‘She’s A Woman’, is found on their 1964 record The Beatles For Sale, which was released only a few months after that fateful meeting with Dylan in December. The album can be taken as a bridge between the clean-cut style of the band’s early period and the weed-inspired sounds of 1965’s Rubber Soul. At this point, the band was still in their honeymoon period with marijuana and were keen to tell the world how much they loved it. 

“That’s Paul with some contribution from me on lines, probably,” recalled John Lennon in 1980. “We put in the words ‘turns me on’. We were so excited to say ‘turn me on’ – you know, about marijuana and all that… using it as an expression.”

‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ – Revolver (1966)

A reflection of just how transformative drugs were on the band, Paul McCartney, who was often regarded as the straightest member of the group, wrote this very explicit ode to marijuana, and it is one of the highlights of 1966’s Revolver

Speaking in 1994, Macca explained the track’s provenance, saying: “I’d been a rather straight working-class lad, but when we started to get into pot it seemed to me to be quite uplifting. It didn’t seem to have too many side effects like alcohol or some of the other stuff, like pills, which I pretty much kept off. I kind of liked marijuana, and to me, it seemed it was mind-expanding, literally mind-expanding”.

He added: “So ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ is really a song about that. It’s not to a person, it’s actually about pot. It’s saying, ‘I’m going to do this. This is not a bad idea.’ So it’s actually an ode to pot.”

‘Magical Mystery Tour’ – Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

The Magical Mystery Tour record makes a strong claim to be the weirdest collection of the songs in The Beatles’ back catalogue. The soundtrack to the surreal film is a kaleidoscopic adventure that provides many moments that leaves us feeling a little high, a testament to just how many drugs the Fab Four were taking at the time. The title track of the album is one of the most intoxicating, and it is brimming with not-so-subtle references to marijuana. 

The song is mainly centred around the repetition of the phrase “roll up”, a nod to the art of skinning up a fat one. The band were the kings of sneaking taboo references into their music long before drugs had arrived on the scene, and it only got better after that day with Bob Dylan in New York.

‘Fixing a Hole’ – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

During a 1968 interview, Paul McCartney discussed the origins of ‘Fixing a Hole’. He revealed that the song is “about the hole in the road where the rain gets in, a good old analogy – the hole in your make-up which lets the rain in and stops your mind from going where it will.”

He also explained that other aspects of the song are about fans hanging outside his house all day and night, something he found very disconcerting.  

However, the song also caught the eye for another reason, its references to drugs. Many fans and critics believed that the track was written about heroin, as per the drug slang “fixing a hole”, but in the biography Many Years From Now, McCartney, who only experimented with heroin once, said that the song was actually an “ode to pot.”

‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ – Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

On the face of it, ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ is an innocent anthem about the constructive role good friendships have in your life. It is one of the band’s most beloved tracks, but this is not only because of the feel-good factor or the fact that it was sung by Ringo Starr. Whilst the band chose not to explicitly mention weed, they do cite getting “high” with their friends, which is almost certainly about all the drugs they did together, including marijuana. 

“This was written out at John’s house in Weybridge for Ringo… I think that was probably the best of our songs that we wrote for Ringo actually. I remember giggling with John as we wrote the lines,” recalled McCartney. The song suggests countless things that with a little help from your pals can be achieved, including the famous line “I get high, with a little help from my friends”.