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“Don’t Bogart Me” — The Fraternity of Man

April 20, 2014

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Forget Easter. Forget Passover. It’s April 20th – better known as 4-20. Now THAT’S a holiday we can get fired up about!

Today’s song is “Don’t Bogart Me” by The Fraternity of Man. The members of The Fraternity of Man were all part of the Little Feat/Mothers of Invention/Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band community.

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Their self-titled album, released in 1968, included Lowell George’s cohorts from an earlier band, Factory — Ritchie Hayward (on drums), Martin Kibbee (on bass) and Warren Klein (on guitar) . Ironically, when Lowell left Factory to join The Mothers, Elliott Ingber — who played on The Mothers’ album, Freak Out — became the guitarist and leader of what then became The Fraternity of Man. The appropriately-named Lawrence “Stash” Wagner was their lead vocalist.

Let’s roll it…

Technically, “Don’t Bogart Me” was the B-side of a single that featured “Wispy Paisley Skies” as the A-side (honest) — but it was “Bogart” that got the airplay.

That’s how Peter Fonda heard the song. He got permission to use it on the soundtrack to his 1969 film, Easy Rider, and the song became a huge hit (pun intended).

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Elliott Ingber left The Fraternity of Man while they were recording their second album; he joined Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band using the moniker “Winged Eel Fingerling.” Lowell George and Bill Payne joined the group and it transformed into Little Feat. Feat would perform “Don’t Bogart Me” in the middle of “Willin'” — another ballad that references cannabis.

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Which came first, the slang term “Bogart” (meaning to hog or keep for one’s self) or the song? Urban Dictionary offers contradictory answers. According to “Stash” Wagner, who co-wrote the song with Elliott Ingber:

The band was smoking some pot in our rehearsal house up in Laurel Canyon, when Elliott turned to me and said, “Hey man, don’t bogart that thing.” Elliott was always coming up with hipsterisms from the 1950’s and I loved adopting them. I asked him, what does ‘bogart’ mean? He said, “You know, like Humphrey Bogart always had a cigarette in his hand or hanging from his lips when talking. Well, you were hanging onto that joint while your lips were flapping.”I said, “Cool, we should write a song using bogart.”Elliott replied, “Well, make it a country song.”“Why country?” I asked“Because they’ll never see it coming.” And with that, Elliott picked up a guitar and started playing some country chords and I started singing. Three minutes later, we had completed writing the song, Don’t Bogart Me.*

Check out a reggae cover version (imagine that) by Rising Lion, from his American Dread album. http://www.reverbnation.com/risinglion/song/5696556-dont-bogart-me

* http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2011/04/fraternity-of-man-my-interview-with.html

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From → The 1960's

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