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June 24, 2014

“Don’t Bogart that joint, my friend…”


[Reposted by popular demand…]

On June 24, 1968, ABC Records released the self-titled first album by The Fraternity of Man, a California-based rock band whose members included former Mothers of Invention guitarist Elliot Ingber and a young, 17-year-old singer and songwriter named Larry Wagner.

The album wasn’t a big hit. But it included a humorous, country-flavored song that coined a new slang term.

The song’s lyrics were written by Wagner, who was nicknamed “Stash” by the band. The music was written by Ingber.

They titled the song “Don’t Bogart Me.”

Today, it’s more commonly (though mistakenly) referred to as “Don’t Bogart That Joint.”

That phrase, from the song’s chorus, became a slang term meaning “don’t keep holding onto that marijuana joint — pass it on and let other people have some.” 

Initially, awareness of the song and the Bogart term was primarily limited to “Hippies” (a name coined by San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon in 1965).

That changed in 1969, thanks to actor Dennis Hopper, one of the pot-smoking hipsters who knew the song.

Early that year, Hopper was engrossed in editing the new film he’d created with his friend and co-star Peter Fonda — the seminal counterculture classic Easy Rider.

As he edited the movie, Hopper chose some of songs he’d recently been listening to for the soundtrack.

One of them was the Fraternity of Man’s “Don’t Bogart Me.”

When Easy Rider premiered in the US on July 14, 1969, the song and it’s drug-related slang term were launched into worldwide fame.

Soon, millions of people who had never heard the 1968 Fraternity of Man album were familiar with the phrase “Don’t Bogart that joint.”

The use of “Bogart” as a verb eventually became an idiom used in association with things other than just a marijuana joint.

Indeed, today, you get thousands of, er, hits if you Google “don’t Bogart” -joint (using the minus sign to find uses that do not include the word “joint”).

There are various theories about why Humphrey Bogart’s last name came to be used as a verb that was originally tied to smoking something.

The one that makes the most sense to me is that, in many of his classic films, Bogart often has a lit cigarette hanging from his lips but is not actively smoking it. He’s just letting it burn and turn to ashes.

Bogie may or may not have liked the way his name was used in the song. But somehow, in my mind, I can imagine him and Dennis Hopper in the afterlife gleefully singing “Don’t Bogart Me” together.

And, thinking about that makes me want to sing along. If you want to join us, click the video link at right. Here are the lyrics…

Don’t Bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me
Don’t Bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me

Roll another one
Just like the other one
You’ve been hanging on to it
And I sure would like a hit

Ro-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ll another one
Just like the other one
That one’s just about burnt to the end
So, come on and be a real friend.

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