These days, when people think about music associated with cannabis, rap and hip-hop are probably the first genres that come to mind. While very few people may associate cannabis and country music, country legends like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash have been singing about it since the ’70s. Many contemporary country singers are still sharing their love of weed, like Old Crow Medicine Show, Kacey Musgraves and the rising country star Margo Price.
Price’s first solo album, a 2016 release called ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’, debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart and received widespread praise, including The American Music Prize for the best debut album of 2016. NPR Music called it “the hard-won arrival of an artist who feels like she’s always been here.” Her follow-up release album, ‘All American Made,’ was praised by Pitchfork as tackling “Steinbeck-sized issues with a no-bullsh*t humility in search of answers.” Now, after achieving success in the musical realm, Price is also following in the footsteps of cannabis country icon Willie Nelson with a plan to release her own special strain of Willie’s Reserve.
Cannabis Now had the pleasure of catching up with Price for a 4:20 p.m. session after her performance at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music Festival to talk about the role cannabis plays in her creative process, her collaborations with Nelson and her love of solar bowls. The fog wasn’t the only haze clouding the skies around the Sutro Stage when Price launched into an incredible cover of Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” and through the smoke, you could see Price, a headliner of the 2018 Emerald Cup, play guitar, drums and even a tambourine.
Cannabis Now: What drew you to country music as a genre?
Margo Price: Country has always been something that I loved. I grew up listening to rap, but I came back around to country and that is what everyone knows me for. For a long time, I didn’t like mainstream country music, I liked Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn — stuff like that. I grew up in a very rural area of Illinois, and my dad was a farmer who grew corn and soybeans and we raised some cattle too, but he lost the farm when I was very young. Family farms today are closing at a crazy fast rate, it’s a crisis we’re having.
That was a great cover of “Last Dance with Mary Jane.” What inspired you to play it?
That’s a good festival song because it appeals to people who aren’t into country. It’s something that everybody likes. There are a few people who are like, “I don’t like Tom Petty,” but they’re just being arbitrary. If you don’t like Tom Petty, I don’t trust you.
What role does cannabis play in your creative process? Are there any songs where it played a notable role?
I wrote “Hurtin’ On the Bottle” when I was blind drunk on my back porch and definitely smoking a few joints too. I was with my husband and another couple, which has now broken up. My husband is my co-songwriter and was up there onstage playing guitar and harmonica with me.
I have read that your preferred way to smoke cannabis is with a solar bowl. What originally got you using a magnifying glass to smoke weed?
I found out about it probably a decade ago, through my friend Isaac. He would be like, “Let’s go up on that mountain and do some solar rips.” It gets you active and out in the world because you can’t do it at night.
I’ve got [my magnifying glass] with me, and even though we have a lot of cloud cover, I was able to get one. I like to smoke out of an apple with a solar hit because it tastes better and there is no butane. I will do my sunshine bowls during the day and at night I will eat a little indica edible, like a Cheeba Chew.
How did you first cross paths with Willie Nelson?
I went on his bus with him and he passed me a joint and the rest is history. I started opening Farm Aid for him. This coming Farm Aid will be my third year. I have also played his Fourth of July picnic, which has been going on since the early ’70s and everybody played it back in the day. It is so great. We played a little duet together too called “Learning to Lose.”
There is a photo of him and I in his bus the first time I smoked with him that my friend from Sirius XM Radio snapped of me. I look so happy and Willie is staring right at the camera and he has a big smile on his face… Solid gold.
I heard you are launching an indica strain with Willie’s Reserve. What made you choose an indica? What’s your favorite strain?
That’s like asking what’s your favorite song! It’s hard to pick one, but maybe Girl Scout Cookies. My Willie’s Reserve strain has become a favorite recently. My strain has become a favorite strain recently because I find, as I get little a bit older — especially after I went through a car accident and whiplash — that I have insomnia. Indicas really chill me out and are way better than any pain pill. If I need to sleep or have a headache or cramps, indicas are there for me. That being said, I also love sativas. It’s great if I need to clean my house, organize things and write songs.
The Willie’s Reserve crew had joints rolled of 20 to 25 different strains and we smoke tested them all. I narrowed it down to my top three. Then I did the apple test with a solar bowl. My strain is a Raspberry Kush mixed with OG Blackfire. Purple is my color and my strain was the most purple out of all the ones we tried, with a really fruity flavor. For now, my strain will just be initially available in Colorado, but I really hope it launches in California soon. Since it can be difficult to bring genetics to another state, another option is having a sativa in California.
The song ‘All American Made’ talks about liver failure and Ronald Reagan selling weapons in the ’80s, both things tangentially relating to drugs. Is it a song about the opiate epidemic?
I don’t think that many people picked up on that kind of play on it. I was a child of the ’80s and I wanted to talk about how Reagan was a celebrity president and was damaging to our generation. The whole war on marijuana has been going on for ages and this reefer madness fear just keeps happening in different forms, even with Jeff Sessions now. [The song] was a way for me to talk about things without it being completely now, it was an echo of my childhood that felt reminiscent of what is going on now with the celebrity president.
TELL US, what’s your favorite Margo Price song?
Originally published in Issue 34 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE