This female blues artist recorded one of the first-ever songs about cannabis. Atlanta-born Trixie Smith moved to New York City around 1915 and recorded her first single in 1922. That same year, she released “My Man Rocks Me (With One Steady Roll),” one of the first recorded references to “rock and roll,” but she also made history with the jazzy “Jack, I’m Mellow.” The cannabis-themed song starts, “I’m so high and so dry, I’m sailin’ in the sky / Just smoke some gage, come around babe / Jack, I’m mellow.” The word “gage” can mean a valued object provided as a deposit, but during the Cotton Club-era, it was slang for cannabis.
How old is “Jack, I’m Mellow”? Some sources place it in the late 1920s, making it one of the original cannabis songs with “Reefer Man” (1930) and Stuff Smith’s “If You’se a Viper” (1936), but it was more likely recorded in 1938. Even with the latter date, this makes “Jack” one of the earliest recordings of a cannabis-themed song, and probably the first by a female artist. Aside from recorded music, Smith appeared in cabaret revues, films by groundbreaking African-American director Oscar Micheaux and on Broadway with Mae West in The Constant Sinner (1931). She passed away in 1943, at the age of 48.
Note: Image does not represent the artist, who took a limited number of promotional press photos.