Wildwood Weed: the cheeky ganja farmers song that got banned

Jim Stafford CD cover
Jim Stafford CD cover
Wildwood Weed is a parody song written by country music artist Don Bowman and first recorded by singer and multi-instrumentalist Jim Stafford in 1974. Immediately after its release, the track entered the major US and Canadian charts, peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 while at the same time being banned from many radio stations.
The reason for the ban was its clear allusions to the growing of marijuana despite the name of the plant never being explicitly mentioned.
The Wildwood Weed lyrics open with a spoken preamble stating that the old country song Wild Wood Flower has now lost its popularity but "flower is doing real good". The further narration revolves around a plant, which is called either a flower or a weed, discovered by two brothers on their farm. The guys happen to discover the mind-altering effects of the plant and start smoking and cultivating it until the plantation is destroyed by a "feller from Washington," most likely a federal agent. In conclusion, the stoned narrator merrily waves to the departing agent while sitting on a sack of seeds.
Listen to Wildwood Weed by Jim Stafford:
Compositionally, Wildwood Weed invariably follows the tonal theory, specifically the Ionian mode. In the harmonic analysis of the song's chord chains, the scale degrees (denoted with Roman numerals) show the following progressions in the key of C major which accompanied verses:
  1. C–Am–G–C or I–vi–V–I
  2. C–Am–G–C or I–vi–V–I
  3. C–C7–F–C or I–I7–IV–I
  4. C–Am–G–C or I–vi–V–I
  5. C–G–C or I–V–I
Each pair of lines in the ten-line stanza ends with the G–C authentic cadence as seen in progressions 1, 2, 4, 5, except for the middle lines, which are finalized with the F–C plagal cadence found in the chord chain 3.
Note, the tonic seventh chord C7 is replaced by the F subdominant chord, fully corresponding to the classical canons in which a seventh chord resolves itself into a chord built on a note that should be a perfect fifth below the root of the seventh chord.
Discover more songs composed in Ionian major mode and check out their harmonic analysis in the following articles:
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