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The Time Willie Nelson Got High on the White House Roof

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Anyone who claims that Willie Nelson has gotten high at the White House isn't just blowing smoke.

In the ‘70s, as the story goes, the country music legend lit up on the White House roof. But more than three decades later, Nelson likes to play coy when asked about his high times at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. When Jimmy Kimmel had him on his show in March, he tried to convince Nelson to verify the tale.

“I’ve heard that,” Nelson said. “I hear that once you get up [on the roof] all the streets are coming at you from different directions.”

“And you have to do something to calm down,” Kimmel added.

Quipped Nelson, “I would think so. If it ever happened, I would have to calm down.”

The marijuana activist, who has been arrested on at least four occasions for possession, was more forthcoming about the event in his 1988 autobiography:

Sitting on the roof of the White House in Washington, DC, late last night with a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other. My companion on the roof was pointing out to me the sights and layout of how the streets run in Washington … I let the weed cover me with a pleasing cloud … I guess the roof of the White House is the safest place to smoke dope.

Although Nelson declined to name his companion, his biographer, Joe Nick Patoski, says the incident took place in September ’78 with “one of the Carter boys.” Most likely Chip, who at the time had become involved with NORML (the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws).

For what it’s worth, Nelson, now 82, thinks the entire country would benefit if more Washingtonians lit up every once in a while.

Marijuana “would help people in D.C. get along,” he told CNN in November. “Well, I really think stress is the cause of a lot of our problems, and I really believe that the best medicine for stress is pot. Yeah, I think it would make us get along better all over the world.”

[h/t: Celeb Stoner]

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fun
Listen to the Eerie Sounds of a Glass Armonica
Tonamel, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Tonamel, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1760s, the glass armonica (named after the Italian word for harmony, armonia) is one of the world's more unusual musical instruments. It's formed of about 50 glass bowls attached to a rotating spindle and nested inside of each other, which are played to produce sounds similar to those you get if you rub a moistened fingertip around the edge of a wineglass. Mozart composed for it, and Beethoven too.

Today, Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts graduate student Jake Schlaerth is one of only about 30 glass armonica players in the country, and he contributed his talents to the score for the Wolverine movie Logan earlier this year. In the video below from Rutgers (spotted by The Kid Should See This), you can watch Schlaerth play the eerie-sounding instrument and explain more about what makes it so special.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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Ronald Dumont / Stringer / Gett Images
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Pop Culture
Ella Fitzgerald Recording Will Be Released After More Than 60 Years in Record Label Vault
Ronald Dumont / Stringer / Gett Images
Ronald Dumont / Stringer / Gett Images

Ella Fitzgerald ascended to jazz royalty with her pitch-perfect renditions of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," "Summertime," and tunes from the Great American Songbook. Now, Verve Records plans to release a Fitzgerald recording from the 1950s that’s never been heard by fans. As WBGO reports, Ella at Zardi’s will make its public debut on December 1 after 60 years in the record label’s vault.

Fitzgerald sang the two sets featured on the album in 1956 after signing with Verve Records, a label her manager Norman Granz formed specifically for her. She was days away from recording Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book, a turning point in her career, and she spent her nights practicing songs at Zardi’s Jazzland in Hollywood. The recording opens with Granz introducing Fitzgerald, describing her as “the greatest there is,” before she dives into her performance of “It All Depends on You.” The new release will mark the first appearance of the song on a Fitzgerald album.

After Verve recorded the sets at Zardi’s on February 2, 1956, they stowed the tapes away in the vault, where they lay buried for decades. The decision to finally share the music with the public comes on the year of the singer’s centennial celebration, marking what would have been her 100th birthday.

The full 21-track album will be available digitally and as an audio CD when it comes out at the beginning of next month. Listeners can preorder it today on Amazon.

[h/t WBGO]

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