Don’t Bogart that Joint, My Friend

So there’s this one story I never heard, where Lowell George is with the Mothers and Frank hears “Willin'” and tells him he should start a band. I don’t know if I believe it. Lowell tells it different:

Russ Titelman was starting a publishing company and he asked me if I wanted to co-publish the tune (“Willin'”) with him and see what he could do with it. So I recorded it and went on the road the same day with The Mothers and was gone for about five weeks I guess. Then I came back and nothing happened, but somehow a demo of the tape got out and it was the rage of the Troubadour. People like Linda Ronstadt heard it and The Sunshine Company. All these people heard the tune and cut it. Then we did “Truck Stop Girl” at some sessions, and Clarence White covered that, and I thought he did a fantastic job. And so from some of those demos we got signed to Warner Brothers and went and did the first album.

And there’s this other story where Jimmy Carl Black – he’s the drummer for the Mothers – makes a wise-ass comment about the size of Lowell’s feet, and that’s where the name of the band came from or something. Dunno. I still don’t get the spelling. “Feat”?

But the whole point of this is different, about the way the word “bogart” has crept into the English language.

From the new 11th Edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:

bogart ? \BOH-gart\ ? verb
1: bully, intimidate
*2: to use or consume without sharing

Example sentence:
“[The dog] lay dazed on her side on the kitchen floor, bogarting a bone, dozens more scattered around her like some dog play set she’d grown bored with.” (Douglas Bauer, The Boston Globe, July 25, 2001)

The word comes to common English by way of the movies, the way Humphrey Bogart’s tough-guy characters would hang a cigarette off their lip and smoke it down until you winced thinking the guy is gonna burn himself. But he never did. He was too cool.

Dopers adopted it for the guy who hung onto the joint rather than passing it around, and now it’s in the friggin’ Boston Globe. How quickly postmodern language moves. Which brings us full circle to Lowell George and Warner Brothers.

When they repackaged “Waiting for Columbus” on CD – “SPECIALLY-PRICED 2-LP SET ON 1 COMPACT DISC” – they had to cut something:

The tracks “Don’t Bogart That Joint” and “A Apolitical Blues” which appear on the double album and cassette have been omitted so as to facilitate a single specially-priced compact disc.


Roll, another one, just like the other one
Cause this ones burned about, to the end
So come on and be a real friend.

Don’t Bogart that joint my friend, pass it over to me….

See, I knew I could get there eventually. Just took a little wigglin’.

One Comment

  1. Glad to know that there ARE two John Flecks…I’ve wondered that several times since leaving Whitman (1982). I was looking for the author and year of “Don’t Bogart That Joint, My Friend”…Little Feat played locally (for free) this last weekend and they ascribed it to someone else.

    My search was inconclusive, so if you can enlighten me on this point, I’d appreciate it.

    Cindy Trimble

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