The Newt Commute #2: Muddy Waters’ “Champagne and Reefer”


By Steve Newton

Couple weeks ago I banged out a little blog about how I played Neil Young’s “I’m the Ocean” eight times on my shitty commute.

That was kinda fun to write, so while I was cruising into work this morning I kept my mind open for another song-based subject to blather on about.

Lucky for me the CD I had goin’ was Muddy Waters‘ last studio recording, 1981’s King Bee–or its 2004 Legacy Recordings reissue, to be exact. That’s one of the three studio albums Muddy made with my mainman Johnny Winter, the other two being 1977’s Hard Again and 1978’s I’m Ready.

God damn are those wicked albums!

Anyway, since I was traveling from the Delta (as in North) to the big city, I considered penning a comical comparison to Waters’ own fabled trek from the Delta (as in Mississippi) to the big city (of Chicago).

Hey, you can’t blame a blues freak for wanting to be like Muddy Waters in any way possible.

While I was pondering that asinine angle the song “Champagne and Reefer” came on, and I realized I had something that was sorta timely, what with Prime Minister Trudeau’s purported aim to legalize weed.

“Well you know there should be no law on people that want to smoke a little dope,” bellows Muddy. “Well you know it’s good for your head, and it relax your body don’tcha know.”

I don’t know for sure if Muddy Waters smoked weed himself, or whether he was calling on artistic licence. But I do know that my mainman Johnny Winter loved it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody was holding in the studio.

Doesn’t matter one hoot, of course. And the important thing is that Muddy, bless his soul, had his head screwed on straight when it came to illicit substances.

“Well you know I’m gonna stick with my reefer,” he claims as the song clatters to a close, “I ain’t gonna be messin’ round with no cocaine.”

R.I.P. Mr. Morganfield, you smart ol’ son of a gun.

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