'It’s All Good'

High Times magazine, back in 1998, magnanimously invited me to serve as High Priest of the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. My duties would include presiding over the induction of two great Americans, Louis Armstrong and Milton "Mezz" Mezzrow, into the Cannabis Hall of Fame; performing with my Blues Scholars band and dancers from New Orleans at the Cannabis Cup festivities for five nights; and judging the potency and effect of 42 distinct strains of marijuana submitted by the seed companies of Holland for the annual Cannabis Cup competition.

Deeply moved by this honor, I committed six weeks to the composition of a 10-part suite in music and verse titled Viper Mad to honor Pops and Mezz, setting to verse sections of their writings about their own marijuana experiences and inserting historical information regarding their crucial role in the development of jazz and marijuana culture three-quarters of a century ago.

The first nine sections of the work were titled after and set to music associated with Armstrong, Mezzrow, and other early jazz composers. The music for the final section was composed by my guitarist and musical director, former Detroiter Bill Lynn, and titled "It’s All Good" as a tribute to the many beautiful blessings these men had bestowed upon their fellow citizens for generations to come.

Lynn and the band and I rehearsed in New Orleans almost daily for a month to master the new material. When we had the Viper Mad suite ready for its world premiere in Amsterdam, we returned to Lynn’s music for "It’s All Good," took some of the original verses and composed a whole ’nother piece around them which we meant to offer as sort of a Cannabis Cup anthem during our appearances in Amsterdam.

The new version of "It’s All Good" turned out to be both a paean to the Cannabis Cup and Amsterdam’s culture of tolerance and at the same time a condemnatory screed against the War on Drugs in the United States. It was a big hit at our performances at the Cup and has become a favorite with audiences wherever I go.

As this idiotic war against people who like to get high and its ridiculous anti-marijuana propaganda have escalated to Reefer Madness proportions, "It’s All Good" seems to resonate longer and louder with each passing atrocity perpetrated by General Ashcroft and his ever-burgeoning army of drug law enforcement zealots.

Even sadder is the way the War on Drugs has been turned by our government into a working template for intimidation and terror on a global scale. The cruel, heartless strategies and bully-boy tactics developed and perfected by America’s law enforcement agencies and legal system to persecute our millions of recreational drug users have been embraced and adopted by our State Department and ministry of defense to carry out their international adventures.

First comes the vicious propaganda, the wildly fabricated charges of evilness, the demonization of the enemy, the equipping and mobilizing of the armed forces, then the lightning pre-dawn raids, the kicking down of the doors, the overwhelming firepower directed at the target, the deathly penalties imposed upon the conquered, the seizure of their property and assets by the invaders, the utter humiliation and ruin of the victims, and the smug, self-righteous posturing of the victors as they celebrate the greatness of their ill-gained achievement.

And, just as the promised "weapons of mass destruction" and biochemical warfare supplies charged as the ultimate justification for invasion will never be found, neither will it ever be possible to prove even the slightest charge of personal or public damage from the private use by our citizens of marijuana as a means of getting high. Nor may it be demonstrated that the use of other forbidden substances for recreational purposes — despite the possible adverse affect these drugs may have upon the users themselves — presents any sort of danger for our social order other than the perils created by criminalizing and persecuting the drug users and their suppliers.

The War on (Recreational) Drugs waged against our citizenry since marijuana was cynically classified as a narcotic and prohibited by the Harrison Tax Act of 1937 is one of the stupidest and most vicious campaigns our government has ever undertaken. Millions of lives have been ruined by the home invasions, wholesale arrests, costly trials and brutal imprisonments imposed on innocent Americans who simply enjoy getting high on this mild euphoriant which has never been charged with causing even one death.

It’s way past time to free our society from this mindless tyranny and stop the War on Drugs. It’s wrong in every way, and its effect on our social system is far more deleterious than any of the evils which have been hysterically attributed to the smoking and sharing of marijuana. The emperor stands buck naked before us, a ruthless despot grimly determined to search out and punish all of those who have chosen a different means of getting high than the royally sanctioned bottles of alcohol and vials of prescription drugs. Leave us alone and let it grow! —Detroit, June 3, 2003


"It’s All Good"
for Michael Veling & Café deKuil

When you go to the Cannabis Cup
in Amsterdam
They got people coming there
from all over the world
to check out the finest marijuana
grown by the seed companies of Holland
for us to smoke
& get high
& enjoy the wonderful atmosphere
of a society
where people just don't care
if you wanna get high — Hey,
that's just fine,
c'mon over here to the coffeeshop
& order up whatever kind of weed
or hash you might wanna smoke
because it's all good —

It's All Good
It's All Good
It's All Good
It's All Good

And by the end of the week
they gonna pick the finest marijuana
that's been submitted
for the testing
of the exalted panel of judges
here at the Cannabis Cup
& guess what? While we're smoking
all those different strains of weed
& trying to figure out
which one is gonna win the Cup,
every different brand we try
is gonna be the BOMB
because it's all good —

It's All Good
It's All Good
It's All Good
It's All Good

But when we get back to the United States
it ain't gonna be nothing like this.
In the United States
it ain't nothing nice
because they got a war on people like us —
They call it the War on Drugs
but they don't give a fuck about drugs,
because if you got a prescription
you can get just as loaded
as any human being
has ever been
on the planet Earth —
They just don't like us getting high
— on marijuana
or cocaine
or whatever we might want to use
to effect a certain change
in our consciousness —
Now, I like to get high.
I'm not gonna make any bones about it.
I like to get high, & you know
whatever I like to get high on,
I believe I have a right to do this —
& you too,
& everybody in our society.
Because people want drugs.
They want to get high.
People have been getting high
ever since there's been people.
They've been fucking,
they've been getting high
& they've been buying some pussy,
you know. These things have been going on
& they will continue to go on.
So to keep us from getting high
like we are today
here in Amsterdam
at the Cannabis Cup
They got police —
They got so many police
you couldn't even believe it.
They got electronical equipment,
They got helicopters,
They got exotic chemicals
killing the shit off in the fields,
They got people going out all over South America
& Asia
& all over the world
trying to keep this shit from getting
to the United States,
& when it finally does get here,
you got to pay so much money for it
that it's about to drive you crazy —
& that's another thing:
they ain't got nothing for people like us
in terms of money —
if you're an artist
or a poet
or an authentical musician
they ain't got a motherfucking thing for you
except the War on Drugs
& a whole bunch of police,
undercover agents,
narco terrorists,
they got motherfuckers coming in through your front window
with guns in their hands
& they wrong for that —
because the war on drugs
is about building a police state.
The war on drugs
is about building more prisons
& filling them up
with more & more people like us
& employing more guards,
employing more cops,
more special agents,
more prosecutors,
more judges,
more wardens,
more jailers —
the worst elements of our society.
And then there’s the way
They've inflated the cost of things:
what you could buy for $10 in 1973,
now you got to pay $100. You got to hustle
10 times as hard today
than you did 30 years ago.
You’re living by your wits
& you’re trying to figure out
how to get some money
without having a job, but everything costs
10 times as much. That's severe.
And that's one more reason why
we wanna have some drugs —
we're out here living by our wits,
& our heads are sore. We want to get home at night
& put something in our heads, or get up in the morning
& put something in our heads. We don't know
what we're going to have to face
out in these streets that day,
& we need a little something
to help us get high —
Like everybody here
at the Cannabis Cup
in Amsterdam
smoking that reefer
& having a good time
because that's all good —

It's All Good
It's All Good
It's All Good
It's All Good

So we gonna forget about America
& enjoy ourselves here
at the Cannabis Cup
all week long
& on Thanksgiving Day
when they announce
who grew the best pot
for us to smoke
& get high on
Let's give thanks
for every strain of weed
that's made its way here to us
with special appreciation
for all the growers of marijuana
all over the world
& our intrepid comrades
who risk life & limb to supply us
with the substances we require
& all the warriors doing time
in the vast penitentiaries of America
as prisoners
of the War on Drugs —
We salute you all
& thank you once again
for all the good
you have done
because it’s all good —

It’s All Good
It’s All Good
It’s All Good
It’s All Good
It’s All Good
It’s All Good

—New Orleans, November 8-15, 1998/Detroit, June 3, 2003

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