Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) ~ Asleep at the Wheel

asleep-at-the-wheelAsleep at the Wheel, is a multiple Grammy Award-winning Country/Western Swing band formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia, but based in Austin, Texas.

In 1969, Ray Benson and Lucky Oceans (Reuben Gosfield) co-founded Asleep at the Wheel in Paw Paw, West Virginia, and soon after they found themselves opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna in Washington, DC. A year later, they moved to East Oakland, California at the invitation of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. After being mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine by Van Morrison, they landed a record deal with United Artists. In 1973, their debut album, Comin’ Right At Ya was released by United Artists. At the request of Willie Nelson, they left Oakland and moved to Austin in 1974 as well.

Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)

Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) is a Western swing novelty song largely written by Merle Travis for Tex Williams’ and his talking blues style of singing.

This version is a  toe tapping romp through (mostly) vintage cigarette TV advertising with music by Asleep at the Wheel. Also featured is the earliest filmed ad for Admiral Cigarettes, an 1897 Edison film, and a Fred & Barney from the Flintstones smoking Winston Cigarettes.

The ostensible narrator of the song is himself a smoker and the song is primarily complaining about cigarettes being used to delay other activities. While the line “And I don’t reckon they hinder your health/I’ve smoked all my life and I ain’t dead yet” may lead some to believe the song suggests that cigarettes are perhaps not harmful to one’s health, the guitar riff that follows indicates this line is intended as a joke — The stanza “Tell St. Peter at the Pearly Gate/That you hate to make him wait/But you just gotta have another cigarette” and the chorus, which includes the line “Puff, puff, puff and if you smoke yourself to death” demonstrate that the song carries a warning about the adverse health effects of smoking. It also makes a statement as to the addictive nature of cigarette smoking.

I’m a feller with a heart of gold
The ways of a gentleman I’ve been told
The kind of feller who’d never harm a flea

Me and a certain character met
Man who invented the cigarette
I’d murder that son of a gun in first degree

Now it ain’t ’cause I don’t smoke myself
And I don’t figure it’ll hinder my health
I’ve been smoking ‘em all my life, and I ain’t dead yet

But nicotine slaves are all the same
And pettin’, party or a poker game
Every thing’s gotta stop while they smoke that cigarette

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff and if you puff yourself to death
Tell Saint Peter at the golden gate
That you just hate to make him wait
But you gotta have another cigarette

Now at a game of chance, the other night
Old dame fortune was doing me right
The Kings and Queens kept on coming round

Now I gotta full, and betted high
My bluff didn’t work on a certain guy
He just kept on raisin’ and layin’ that money down

Now he’d raise me and I’d raise him
I sweated blood, I gotta sink or swim
We finally called, then he didn’t raise the bet

I said, “Aces full, pal, how ’bout you?”
He said, “I’ll tell you in a minute or two”
Right now I’m gotta have a cigarette

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff and if you puff yourself to death
Tell Saint Peter at the golden gate
That you just hate to make him wait
But you gotta have another cigarette

[oh give me a cigar, willya?]

The other night, I had a date
With the cutest little gal in all the states
A high bred uptown fancy little dame

Now she said she loved me, seemed to me
That things were just like they ought to be
So hand in hand, we strolled down Lover’s Lane

She’s, oh, so far from a keg of ice
And our smoochin’ party was going nice
So help me, Hannah, I haven’t been there yet

But I gave her a kiss and a little squeeze
She said, “Ray, excuse me please
But I just gotta have another cigarette!”

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff and if you puff yourself to death
Tell Saint Peter at the golden gate
That you just hate to make him wait
But you gotta have another cigarette

Play 
  • Audio from the 2003 album, Greatest Hits:

album-asleep-at-the-wheel
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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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