Brewer & Shipley – One Toke Over the Line…and another version

This is a catchy counterculture song by Brewer and Shipley. It was released in 1970 and it peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 and was their only top 40 hit.

This song was performed on the Lawrence Welk Show sung by Welk Musical Family singers on his weekly television show. In 1971, singers Gail Farrell and Dick Dale performed “One Toke Over the Line” on the show. And after the song, Welk is seen on camera saying, “There you heard a modern spiritual by Gail and Dale.”

Lawrence liked to have popular songs performed on is show…I don’t think he got the full meaning of this one.

From Songfacts.

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.”

Brewer and Shipley…below is the Lawrence Welk version

 

The Lawrence Welk Show

One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
Awaitin’ for the train that goes home, sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
Whoooo do you love, I hope it’s me
I’ve bin a changin’, as you can plainly see
I felt the joy and I learned about the pain that my momma said
If I should choose to make a part of me, surely strike me dead
Now I’m one toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
I’m waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
I bin away a country mile
Now I’m returnin’ showin’ off a smile
I met all the girls and loved myself a few
Ended by surprise like everything else I’ve been through
It opened up my eyes and now I’m
One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
Don’t you just know I waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
Don’t you just know I waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
I want to be
One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
Don’t you just know I waitin’ for the train that goes home sweet Mary
Hopin’ that the train is on time
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line
Sittin’ downtown in a railway station
One toke over line
One toke, one toke over the line

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

9 thoughts on “Brewer & Shipley – One Toke Over the Line…and another version”

  1. Growing up near KC, I heard Brewer and Shipley on the radio a lot. They were like KC’s house band at the time. This is such a great song. A few years ago, Brewer & Shipley were interviewed for a documentary about the Cowtown Ballroom, a KC concert venue where B&S played regularly, that was affiliated with the Vanguard. They are featured in the trailer, that comes up on YouTube if you search for ‘Cowtown Ballroom Sweet Jesus’. They say how they felt about being on Nixon’s enemy list. The Lawrence Welk version is such a classic. I’m not sure we’ll ever know for sure who was in on that gag and who wasn’t, haha.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I just looked it up and saw the trailer…many people were there. It looks really interesting…I would like to see that…Van Morrison to Frank Zappa… That s great about them considering Nixon’e enemy list as a badge of honor.
      The Lawrence Welk thing I heard of a long time ago but forgot about it…it is more like a SNL skit come to life. Them just singing it straight is priceless.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Welk version really is like SNL. That’s a good comparison. And it came out years before there was an SNL.

        I’m guessing that every city had a place something like KC’s Cowtown Ballroom. I hope they are making sure the stories are preserved like this one. Each one is bound to have its own unique history with the performers.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know I just can’t believe they did that…someone had to know.

        Those looked like good times. A totally different world than than now. Some of it’s good I guess but some not….they sure had better music…to me anyway.

        Like

      3. Definitely a different world then. I only experienced it from a little kid’s perspective, so it’s hard to say which was better, then or now. It’s really great to have these videos and documentaries to look back on, though.

        Liked by 1 person

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