The time the Bible-loving Lawrence Welk Show sang a marijuana song (video)

Some readers turned me on to this video, from the uber-conservative “Lawrence Welk Show.”

I always hated the show — it was the worst of “grandma” television.


Well, what I didn’t know was that once Lawrence Welk, God bless his thumper soul, decided to have “One toke over the line” sung on this show, thinking it was a “modern spiritual” because the song references “Mary” and “Jesus.”

In fact, it was a song about getting too high on marijuana while sitting at the train station.



I’d never seen this, it’s so bad it’s good.

After Welk’s version, I’ve posted the real song. It really is a nice song. Though apparently they wrote it on the fly as a joke. And it was their biggest hit.

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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59 Responses to “The time the Bible-loving Lawrence Welk Show sang a marijuana song (video)”

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  2. Moderator3 says:

    We’ll keep that in mind.

  3. The_Fixer says:

    I’ll mention this again rather than point to my above comment, because sometimes Disqus does not provide a link to the full thread when they notify you of a reply via e-mail.

    Magically changing usernames has been a Disqus problem in the past. It happens usually when a comment page is frequently being updated due to heavy traffic. To restore the proper usernames, all one has to do is refresh the page. Additionally, I also recommend to people that they clear their browser cache and delete their cookies, with the caution that they’ll have to log in again to any sites that they were logged into (like Disqus).

    I know that you folks are both fair and patient, and it pains me to see you blamed for something that is totally beyond your control. I mentioned it to B00Z above. Next time you get accused of this, just tell ’em to refresh the page :)

  4. The_Fixer says:

    This is a Disqus problem I have seen in the past. It’s especially pronounced when a comment page is frequently updated in a short period of time because a lot of people are adding comments quickly. All you need to do to clear it up is to reload the page.

    Additionally, it’s helpful to clear out your browsers cache, and delete cookies. Note that you will have to log in to Disqus (and any other site you were logged into) as the browser cookies are how a site knows that you are logged in.

  5. AlexanderHamiltonsGhost says:

    Lawrence once introduced the tap-dancing Arthur Duncan as “a credit to his race.”

  6. evodevo says:

    Yes … I always wondered about that ! I couldn’t imagine that one of the musicians wouldn’t have told old Larry what the song was really about……he WAS pretty clueless.

  7. UncleBucky says:

    OH. Yes. I see. No. There may not be. ;o)

  8. Brewster says:

    I’m 44 years old and I used to be forced to watch Lawrence Welk with my grandmother and now it’s seriously my favorite show. They play it on our local PBS station every saturday night. 70’s cheese all the way! Lawrence seemed like a nice guy, and there are some seriously handsome and gorgeous clean-cut performers on there. I enjoy that corny entertainment that doesn’t exist anymore in our post-modern porno world. It might be the kind of camp only a homosexual can appreciate, but that old-timey brightly-colored song-and-dance is just pure fun and delight.

    The fact that there is only one black guy on the show and he only tap-dances, however….

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  10. Moderator3 says:

    We cannot change names. Although we can delete posts, we haven’t.

  11. B00Z says:

    Additionally, good luck with support when your monitor deletes posts and makes changes to user’s name.

  12. B00Z says:

    Who changed my name?

  13. AlexanderHamiltonsGhost says:

    To be fair to the show, it’s mostly only on certain theme episodes (Christmas, Easter, etc) where the religious aspect comes to the fore, and typically it’s only overt in the closing number.

  14. rextrek1 says:

    …and this is what the rightwing would have us all watch 24/7 if they had their way..NO THANK YOU

  15. Mike F says:

    I do, and obviously you completely ignored my references to ragtime, jazz, and the blues. One blues artist from St. Louis, Henry Townsend, was making and selling music in the 20’s when ol’ Larry was still cutting his musical teeth in South Dakota. Hell, Henry recorded music through NINE consecutive decades. He was a helluva guy, too, by all accounts.

    Like I said, “popular” music existed without Lawrence Welk in the Middle West of this country before he was even born (1903).

    Listen, if Mr. Welk was worth anything as a musician, he probably listened to everything: ragtime, New Orleans jazz (King Curtis and Louis Armstrong; you know, Negroes), Chicago blues, St. Louis blues, Memphis blues, delta blues, Ralph Vaughan Williams, WC Handy, Tallis…you get the idea. And I bet he wasn’t the ignorant, close-minded white boy you think he was. He would probably be disgusted with someone so close-minded and myopic in thought as you. You don’t get to be a good musician with both your ears and your eyes closed.

    Hmmm, I think I’ll go listen to my Henry Townsend album. Been awhile.

    Have fun in your bubble, bud.

  16. larry longmore says:

    I used to kill at parties doing a decent Welk impression as he introduced “ha-lovely ha-Linda and her accordion serenading us with that ha-lilting ha-love ballad Purple Haze”.

  17. sfer says:

    Chuck Berry was an infant when Lawrence Welk was bringing music to the country. Apparently the commenter did not know this.

  18. Mike F says:

    I’m from the “heart of the country” (LOL), born in OKC, OK, and raised in St. Louis, MO. Still living in the STL. You no more represent the “true” heart of the country any more than I do. Truly, your exclusionary rhetoric is what lead to the corruption of German culture and comity by the National Socialists (you know, Nazis). Congratulations. Such a good American.

    Oh, by the way, popular music? Practically invented in St. Louis by Chuck Berry and Johnny Johnson. (Johnny basically did all of the arranging for Chuck’s songs.) Not to mention–Jeebus–the popularity of ragtime in the late 19th to early 20th Century, where a single song would sell millions of copies of sheet music (I can’t remember which one, but a ragtime song sold FOUR MILLION copies of sheet music…in the early 20th Century, when the pop. of the US was 76,000,000) Publishers and song writers galore in St. Louis, including Scott Joplin (who is said to have destroyed a dozen of his operatic compositions because he thought–likely correctly–that Irving Berlin stole the tune for Alexander’s Ragtime Band; only Treemonisha survives). Not to mention all of the blues artists, Jazz artists (Miles Davis was born on the east side, in Illinois, and got his start playing clubs in St. Louis; oh, did you know that the word “jazz” may have come from a profane colloquialism for male ejaculate?), rock and rollers (Berry, Johnson and Ike Turner, along with Tina). Not to mention all of the music and dance clubs in St. Louis: The Imperial, the Casa Loma (still going!), the Coliseum, the Castle (Demolished just recently), and that’s just a handful.

    Shit, Lawrence Welk brought popular music to the Midwest. That’s a hoot.

  19. sfer says:

    Lawrence Welk was a musician who brought popular music to the mid-west and to the country. This posting makes a mockery of him based on nothing but a caricature of people from the heart of the country.

    Good luck if your approach to recruiting supporters is based on ridiculing them.

  20. Ednahilda says:

    Every Saturday evening at 7:00 on the Allentown/Bethlehem PA area PBS station as well.

  21. LanceThruster says:

    A-one, anna two…

  22. Indigo says:

    Um . . . I lived and worked in North Dakota for a decade so I can’t say I’m real clear on there being a difference between Nazis in Germany and the ones in North Dakota. :-)

  23. Dean Cameron says:

    The Somenix must have been kicking in. But I enjoyed the Fuzzy!

  24. nathandetroit says:

    My Chromebook refused to play this and kicked me right off. Not because it couldn’t play the clip, but because it just wouldn’t. Yay Google!

  25. nathandetroit says:

    Still on in Florida, but then we have a number of folks over the age of 130!

    Just like you, I had to sit through it at grandma’s house for many years. I’m just afraid that when we die and go to hell, this show will be on a continuous loop with no way to turn it off.

    On the bright side, my father, a huge big band fan, could never stand Lawrence and his orchestra; apparently he was a hack even back in the big band days!

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  27. UncleBucky says:

    OH I know he was from ND. But the point was that this new YT from 1938 shows him to be very remarkably like some of the bands that adjusted to Nazi policies (The Comedian Harmonists did not, and were destroyed).

    The look on Welk’s face just makes me think he was only a few steps from the German analogs that were playing nice with the Nazis in Germany.

  28. pappyvet says:

    I always wanted to see Bobby and Sissy do a dance number to YMCA. But then how could they really top the Village People.

  29. FLL says:

    Bobby’s plump look on screen is compounded by the unfortunate choice of costume, which makes him look like he’s wearing brightly colored tires from mountain bicycles around his midsection. His outfit is not what you would call slimming. The costume designer should have received a fine or prison sentence for any number of reasons.

  30. jomicur says:

    Bobby Burgess started his showbiz career as one of the original Mouseketeers, back in the 50s. I remember him having that same plastic smile and plastic personality even when he was a kid performer. Somehow the fact that he wound up on Welk’s show always seemed appropriate. And he’s still at it, doing host segments for PBS’ syndicated series.

  31. Houndentenor says:

    When I lived in Germany (2002-2003) I was surprised to learn that there were still shows pretty much like this there (and the performers have CDs out in the record stores there). It’s not all that’s on there (it’s quite a mish-mash on their stations) but it still exists. These things went to PBS because no one else was interesting in showing something that no one under 70 is interested in watching. I found them campy and couldn’t get enough. (There was one country-western music show that I only caught once. It’s was hilarious!)

  32. jomicur says:

    It runs every Saturday night on the PBS outlet here in Pittsburgh. It’s syndicated by the PBS network in Oklahoma (where else?), where they film new intro segments with the surviving members of the Welk “family.” Deb Acklin, the out lesbian who runs the station here, insists that the Welk show is “community programming.” I once asked how it qualifies as that and was told, quite emphatically, that it’s community programming because there are people in the community who like it. Of course, it seems pretty clear to me that by that standard, every program on every network in existence qualifies, too. But what the hell do I know?

  33. olandp says:

    Ballroom dancers didn’t have to be muscle gods like they do now. Different times. I actually used to watch once in a while to watch the tap dancer, since I tapped. Kind of miss it now, people told me I was good.

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  35. GarColga says:

    Then there was the time the Velvet Underground appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show, with Bob Eubanks on keyboard!

  36. Indigo says:

    Yes, on PBS. I can’t imagine how that happens but it happens.

  37. Indigo says:

    Lawrence Welk, a devout Roman Catholic, was born and raised and muzack-ilized in Strasburg . . . North Dakota.

  38. dommyluc says:

    This seems like something Maureen Dowd hallucinated when she ate her reefer candy. What a dumbass. On second thought, Lawrence Welk is probably too hip for Dowd, and all the rest of the Villagers.

  39. davidinchelseama says:

    How the hell is this guy in such horrible shape if he’s a dancer? Holy crap !!! And why are they smiling like serial killers through the whole thing?

  40. [demyx] says:

    Did you know smoking too much marijuana causes deformities? There’s pictures to prove it!

  41. bpollen says:

    Saw Brewer & Shipley perform in Hampton Roads, VA when that song was current. They finished their set, and headed backstage while the stage was set for the headliner (Jethro Tull.) They cracked a beer and were immediately arrested for it. Missed their next date waiting to go to court to get bail. It would appear that you can be one beer over the line, too.

  42. BeccaM says:

    I’ll send you my therapy bill.

  43. HelenRainier says:

    I used to work in a nursing home. Now it would be a senior citizens home. This would be on every Saturday night.

  44. The_Fixer says:

    Yes, you took Geritol to get you up and moving, and Sominex to get you to sleep.

  45. The_Fixer says:

    Oh, I loved the original of this song in high school. Sweet harmonies, great bass line, just a well put-together tune. And yes, as slideguy says below, the Welk band was in on the joke. Notice Myron Florian choking during the introduction.

    I had a friend in the 70s who was an accomplished organist, and he had worked with some of the best during his career. One show he did had a few bands playing, the featured one was the Welk orchestra. He was in the house when they were rehearsing, and heard Welk stop the band mid-song and tell them “Boyss, I’m not hearing the champaign and-a bubbless!” It was his way of berating them. One of the band members later told my friend that you knew you were not going to have a good night if he said that. Welk had a formula, and if you were in his band, you better stick to it. You dare not imporvise or deviate from the arrangement one tiny bit, or he’s be on your ass. He had a reputation for being one mean son-of-a-bitch.

    What absolutely slays me is that they play his show on, of all networks, PBS. How the hell that came to be, I’ll never know. It’s like I can’t escape it. I had to sit through it when my grandmother was alive, and now this, One Saturday afternoon I was napping with the TV on PBS, and awoke to that. Thought I had died in my sleep and been cast into hell. Since then, while channel surfing, I’ve found that they regularly replay it. Or at least used to as of a few years ago – I tend to avoid PBS on Saturday afternoons for fear of encountering that again.

    They really need to let that show fade into obscurity. Anybody who lived actually enjoyed it during its original run must be about 130 by now…

  46. The_Fixer says:

    Oh, my. Thise outfits were especially crafter for people with cataractvision – all fuzzy and ot able to see color all that well. I have to bleach out my eyes now.

  47. slideguy says:

    It might have been news to Larry, but everybody in the band knew. Trust me. This is LA and these were professional musicians.

  48. Jonas Grumby says:

    I SO REMEMBER THIS!!! (Yeah. A bit old here) And remember vividly my WTF moment.

    Um. My Grandmother watched Lawrence Welk. yeah. That was it.

  49. emjayay says:

    Bobby is fat.

  50. UncleBucky says:

    Is there a little Mormon sweetness in there, too?

  51. UncleBucky says:

    Sissy and Bobby… Now I have to clean out my eyes…

    If he puts that leg up one more time, I’ll puke.

  52. UncleBucky says:

    I guess there were several “ages” of Lawrence Welk

    Minnesota Music Man
    1950s Ethnic Polka Man
    Schmaltz Man
    Stupid Thumper Man
    Dead Branson Mo Music Man

    What would have happened if the Lennon Sisters got involved with a rock group first? Hah.

  53. RobT says:

    Take Sominex tonight and sleep. Safe and restful. Sleep… sleep…sleep

  54. UncleBucky says:

    By the time that Lawrence Welk turned into THIS, it was a thumper mud wrestling event. But before Welk let in all those Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and other weirdos, it was a lot more palatable for this German-Polish descendant (me). OK, I was referring to the 50s. And I was really trying to be positive…

    BUT then I find this!!! From 1938. And it reminds me of the popular music in Germany between 1934 and 1940. Welk looks like he emerged from that!

  55. claygooding says:

    It was grandma’s TV when it was on,,,and this was when you had 3 channels to choose from,,he latr had the Doors on singing “Fire”,,another reference to humans being human,,,we will always search for euphoria.

  56. Tone says:

    Some nice harmony though.

  57. FLL says:

    Presenting… the worst of the worst… die schlimmsten der schlimmsten… “and a one and a two…”

  58. bkmn says:

    Danke Schoen.

  59. Indigo says:


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