The dealers and the pushers

You know I've smoked a lot of grass
O' Lord, I've popped a lot of pills
But I never touched nothin'
That my spirit could kill
You know, I've seen a lot of people walkin' 'round
With tombstones in their eyes
But the pusher don't care
Ah, if you live or if you die

The late singer/songwriter Hoyt Axton wrote the original lyrics to The Pusher for use in a California anti-drug public service campaign after a friend overdosed on drugs, but singer John Kay asked him to expand the lyrics into a full song which Kay's band "Steppenwolf," turned into a hit in 1968.

Axton, who fought his own battles with booze and drugs, wrote many songs about drugs, including Snowblind Friend, which Steppenwolf also recorded, and The No No Song, which Ringo Star turned into a minor hit.

When he wrote The Pusher, Axton felt there was a difference between a "dealer," who provided marijuana and LSD, and a "pusher," who sold hard drugs like cocaine and heroin:

You know the dealer, the dealer is a man
With the love grass in his hand
Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he's not a natural man
The dealer for a nickel
Lord, will sell you lots of sweet dreams
Ah, but the pusher ruin your body
Lord, he'll leave your, he'll leave your mind to scream

But Axton later said he was wrong. In 1997, two years before his death, he told Musician magazine:

If I had it all to do over again, I'd never touch booze, grass or any drug. All of it rots your brain, man, and it destroys your soul. Drugs eat away at our society. They are the devil's toys and the devil is laughing every time someone gets high. There ain't no difference between a dealer and a pusher.

 Here in Floyd County, we've got dealers and we've got pushers. We've got growers and tweekers and cookers and cutters. We've got those who sell it and those who give it away. We've got grass, coke, crack, meth and still some moonshine.

Hoyt Axton was right. There ain't no difference. They all push poison that rots your brain.

He summed it up best in The Pusher:

God damn The Pusher
Gad damn The Pusher
I said God damn, God damn The Pusher man

(Lyrics from The Pusher © Irving Music Inc. (BMI). Used with permission)

You know I’ve smoked a lot of grass
O’ Lord, I’ve popped a lot of pills
But I never touched nothin’
That my spirit could kill
You know, I’ve seen a lot of people walkin’ ’round
With tombstones in their eyes
But the pusher don’t care
Ah, if you live or if you die

The late singer/songwriter Hoyt Axton wrote the original lyrics to The Pusher for use in a California anti-drug public service campaign after a friend overdosed on drugs, but singer John Kay asked him to expand the lyrics into a full song which Kay’s band "Steppenwolf," turned into a hit in 1968.

Axton, who fought his own battles with booze and drugs, wrote many songs about drugs, including Snowblind Friend, which Steppenwolf also recorded, and The No No Song, which Ringo Star turned into a minor hit.

When he wrote The Pusher, Axton felt there was a difference between a "dealer," who provided marijuana and LSD, and a "pusher," who sold hard drugs like cocaine and heroin:

You know the dealer, the dealer is a man
With the love grass in his hand
Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he’s not a natural man
The dealer for a nickel
Lord, will sell you lots of sweet dreams
Ah, but the pusher ruin your body
Lord, he’ll leave your, he’ll leave your mind to scream

But Axton later said he was wrong. In 1997, two years before his death, he told Musician magazine:

If I had it all to do over again, I’d never touch booze, grass or any drug. All of it rots your brain, man, and it destroys your soul. Drugs eat away at our society. They are the devil’s toys and the devil is laughing every time someone gets high. There ain’t no difference between a dealer and a pusher.

 Here in Floyd County, we’ve got dealers and we’ve got pushers. We’ve got growers and tweekers and cookers and cutters. We’ve got those who sell it and those who give it away. We’ve got grass, coke, crack, meth and still some moonshine.

Hoyt Axton was right. There ain’t no difference. They all push poison that rots your brain.

He summed it up best in The Pusher:

God damn The Pusher
Gad damn The Pusher
I said God damn, God damn The Pusher man

(Lyrics from The Pusher © Irving Music Inc. (BMI). Used with permission)

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21 Responses

  1. What do you want [t]o do?

    I want to make each of us think deeply about under what situations we will or will not use violence against each other.

    I don’t want chaos. But chaos is coming, thanks to the big government experiments of the 20th century. Central control failed in the Soviet Union, it failed in the Axis powers, it failed in South Africa, it failed in Eastern Europe, it failed in Rome, and it will fail in North America. Turn on a television news channel if you want to witness it.

    The only way I know to avoid chaos is if each of us develops the ethical backbone to stand up to authority and just say NO when we are ordered to use violence.

    Floyd is one of the most peaceful places on earth I have seen. It’s not because there is a policeman at every household telling us what we can or cannot do. It is because, more than most other communities, we have respect for each other’s life, liberty and property.

  2. It really is a shame that a simple and easy issue about whether or not a drug manufacturer should be punished was diverted into a meaningless discussion about government encroachment of freedoms and liberties.

    The issue here has nothing, I say again nothing, to do with violating anyone’s freedom. It has nothing to do with infringement of anyone’s rights.

    In Virginia, manufacturing marijuana at a certain level is a felony that brings a jail sentence and forfeiture of property under specific conditions. The person in question manufactured marijuana and admitted to police that he distributed it to others. He entered a guilty plea in court under the “Alford” exception which is nonetheless an admission of guilt under the law.

    From what I understand, this is not this person’s first brush with the law so he knows that committing a crime can result in punishment. He freely chose to commit that crime. He got caught.

    Those who rise to his defense act like he is somehow being railroaded for his crime, that the Commonwealth’s Attorney is somehow guilty of “violence” against him because he committed a crime, got caught, pleaded guilty and now faces punishment and possible loss of property.

    Characterizing this as an infringement of freedom or an assault on civil rights requires such convoluted thinking that one would need a GPS to find his way out.

    This is not a failed war on drugs by the feds. It is not a Constitutional issue. It won’t even become a footnote in a law journal. It is nothing more than a state law being implemented by a local prosecutor to punish a small town lawbreaker.

    Heck, it wouldn’t even make a good “Law & Order” episode.

  3. "Government kills more people than drugs." So what is your point? Governments kill more people than rapists. Should we legalize rape and not punish those who abuse women? Governments kill more people than pedophiles. Should we legalize pedophilia and not punish those who abuse children? Governments kill more people than serial killers. Should we allow serial killings based on such a statistic? The problems that face a civilized society cannot be solved by endless spouting of anti-government screeds Mr. Thomas. After reading your comments over the weekend it appears you have a Libertarian view that says government should not do anything to deal with the ills of society. What do you want to do? Abolish all laws? Dismantle all police departments? Let people do whatever they want in the name of liberty? It appears you want chaos Mr. Thomas. Count me out. I voted for Stephanie Murray Shortt because I wanted a tough prosecutor enforcing the laws in Floyd County. Thats what we have now and I for one am happy she is keeping her campaign promises. I am not entirely happy with the government’s war on drugs but until something better comes along I cannot see walking away from it. Doing nothing is not an answer.

  4. Punishing a drug manufacturer for his crime has nothing to do with liberty sir. A citizen of Floyd County broke the law. The person responsible for prosecuting the law is seeing that he is punished. That is not violence, sir. That is justice. We Floyd Countians want justice. We want our laws enforced. We elect people like Mrs. Shortt because she enforces those laws and we will re-elect her in the next election because she upholds the law.

  5. “It’s hard to say that using marijuana will ruin your life when the last three American presidents are admitted marijuana users” This quote was taken from a very encouraging story on marijuana legalization debate in California, I set it as my homepage if you want to read more about it click on my name.

    Also, almost every Democratic candidate for President in 2008 admitted to using marijuana during their life. The Republicans were not as quick to admit it (although I’m sure many of them have) due to the fact that they have to appeal to “social conservatives.” Social conservative is another word for someone who wants to tell other people how to live their private life of course. They are as anti-America as you can get because they don’t believe in freedom.

    The fact is, marijuana is not a particularly dangerous drug. It is obviously far less dangerous than alcohol & cigarettes. Marijuana does not lead to serious health issues. According to many doctors it is actually a positive in many health situations. Meanwhile cigarettes & alcohol regularly KILL people. It’s really not even close. There’s no comparison as far as the danger of these drugs. Why is it that the far less dangerous drug is illegal while the more dangerous ones are not?

    Many of the people commenting in favor of stealing a man’s property and putting him in jail because he grows and smokes marijuana drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes in their own lives. How do you square that circle? What reasoning can you give? Does it all come back to blind obedience to authority for you folks?

    All in the name of authority. Authority has often been wrong. Laws have often been wrong. This is one of those times. It is wrong to blindly follow laws. It is wrong to self righteously cheer when your neighbor is put in jail for doing something that is less harmful than what you do in your own life. It is more than wrong, it is the height of hypocrisy.

    This is a case of “selective justice.” There’s no reason for marijuana to be illegal while alcohol is not.

    It reminds me of another selective justice situation: Those convicted of crack related crimes get about 10X as much prison time as those convicted of cocaine related crimes. What’s the main difference here? Rich white people use cocaine. Poor black people use crack.

    It’s so sad to me that many people fail to question the “conventional wisdom” because it often anything but wise. It’s sad that so many people choose to think in a reactionary manner rather than to actually use their minds and to think about things rationally.

    If America is to move forward we must move past this sort of thoughtlessness.

    The War on Drugs does not work. It has been just as much of a failure as alcohol prohibition was in the 1920s.

    If you want to learn about the effects of legalizing drugs look at this story about Portugal where all drugs were legalized in 2001: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html

    In the 8 years since drugs were legalized, drug use has actually fallen.

    Did you know that despite (or maybe even partly because) of our extremist anti-drug laws in America that we have some of the highest drug use rates in the world?

    Did you know that we have 25% of the world’s prisoner population despite having 5% of the world’s total population?

    Think.

  6. They want to smoke their dope without fear of arrest, even though smoking that dope is against the law.

    They want to raise their weed without punishment even though growing the stuff is against the law.

    They want to do whatever they want, whenever they want without taking responsibility for their actions.

    This kind of “I wanna, I wanna” whine sounds just like my children. Of course the oldest is seven. When they grow up I trust they will have a more adult view of life.

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