Album: The Adventures Of Panama Red (1973)

Songfacts®:

  • New Riders of the Purple Sage performed with the Grateful Dead in the beginning of their career, and Jerry Garcia playing pedal steel guitar early on in the band. Originally this was played by Jerry Garcia with Peter Rowan in Old And In The Way in 1973. After Jerry Garcia stopped performing with New Riders of the Purple Sage, they recorded and premiered it on The Adventures Of Panama Red.
  • As much as this song is commonly mistaken to be about a disease, it is actually about a type of marijuana during the '70s. The song mentions the story of "Panama Red" who comes into town and starts to make people act crazy. Panama Red is the marijuana. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    matt - jericho, NY, for above 2

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 5, 1974, New Riders of the Purple Sage performed "Panama Red" on the NBC-TV late-night musical variety program, 'The Midnight Special'...
    The song was track one of side one on the group's fourth studio album, 'The Adventures of Panama Red'...
    The San Francisco-based group had one record make Billboard's Top 100 chart, "I Don't Need No Doctor", it entered the chart on June 4th, 1972 at position #93, four weeks later it would peak at #81, that was also it's fifth and last week on the Top 100.
  • Al from BostonPanama Red is one of the most famous strains of marijuana ever. It was a landrace pure sativa from Panama, which was popular in the US in the late 60's, 70's, and early 80's. In the late 80's and early 90's, some may have still been around, but cocaine trafficking became much more profitable than marijuana growing and smuggling during this time. In recent years, Panama Red has made a comeback on the west coast in states with legalized medical / recreational marijuana. However, it is doubtful that today's Panama Red is actually the same as the original, and may instead be a hybrid of the Colombian sativa Punta Roja and several Central American landraces. The original Panama Red may still be cultivated on Panama's Pearl Islands, but, as far as I am aware, has disappeared both from the US and from mainland Panama.
    Panama Red is thought to have descended from Angolan Red, an African landrace sativa, which may have been brought to the New World by Portuguese explorers in the 1600's.
    At the time, most of the marijuana in the US was cheap, poorly grown, degraded Mexican brick weed. In comparison, Panama Red was an extremely intense strain, bordering on psychedelic. Unlike African sativas, such as Durban Poison and Malawi Gold, Panama Red did not have pronounced racy, speedy, or anxiety/paranoia-inducing effects, but rather a mellow, uplifting, clear-headed, euphoric sativa high. It was this intense yet benevolent high which helped Panama Red gain fame as one of the best strains of marijuana available in the US at the time, if not the best.
    As the story goes, the first large shipment of Panama Red into the US (more than a ton - likely several tons) was done by way of an ex-US military boat converted into a fishing vessel. The marijuana was covered with a catch of tuna, and cleared US customs. Once safely in US waters, the marijuana was then moved onto several smaller boats, which entered San Francisco Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge. This was in the late 60's, and introduced much of California to Panama Red.
    Besides this song, Panama Red has numerous references in popular culture. In his autobiography, Neil Young writed about having bought a pound of Panama Red on at least one occasion. The opening sequence to Detroit Rock City, set in Ohio in the late 70's, mentions Panama Red.
    This is one of the most famous marijuana strains of all time, despite now being just a memory. It certainly deserves such a classic song to pay it homage!
  • Cheryl from Linden, , NjI just had to mention the great pedal steel on this and many other NRPS songs by Buddy Cage. Best pedal steel player in the land. He can make it sound happy, like on "Henry" or mournful like on "Last Lonely Eagle" Buddy was diagnosed with some form of blood cancer in early 2012, send some positive vibes out to him, the planet is definitely a happier place with him playing in it.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdThree other of my favorites of theirs are Rainbow, Glendale Train, and Last Lonely Eagle. They (NRPS) used to get a fair amount of play on the local DC-area alternative rock station out of Bethesda, MD, that I listened to a lot back in the 70's. On the 2nd Songfact--I never heard the topic of this song, in its heyday, being mistaken for a disease, although that may very well have come about later. No one of that era had any question what the song was about. Plenty of songs that some people think are about drugs, aren't; this one was never in doubt.

  • Francis L. Vena from New York City,, NyPanama was a very potent weed back in the day; in
    addition his white horse mescalino refers to
    the natural hallucigin mescaline that was used
    by hippies during the same period- NRPS was a
    great party band- another one of their classics
    was Lonesome L.A. Cowboy- flv
  • Andy from Custer, SdNobody feels like workin, Panama Red is back in town. Brilliant.
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