Currently Reading: Illegal Smile Disclaimer

John Prine made an anthem for dope smokers but says he didn’t mean to.


The folk music album opener “Illegal Smile” was “not about smokin’ dope,” as John Prine tells it.

“It was more about how, ever since I was a child, I had this view of the world where I can find myself smiling at stuff nobody else was smiling at. But it was such a good anthem for dope smokers that I didn’t want to stop every time I played it and make a disclaimer,” Prine added.

You be the judge.

John Prine
“Illegal Smile”
Atlantic Records (1971)

But fortunately I have the key to escape reality /
And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile /
It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while /
Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone /
No I’m just tryin’ to have me some fun /

Last time I checked my bankroll /
It was gettin’ thin /
Sometimes it seems like the bottom /
Is the only place I’ve been /
I chased a rainbow down a one-way street dead end /
And all my friends turned out to be insurance salesmen /


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