Cigar Aficionado

A Song For Smoking

Remember protest songs?

They have a fine tradition that stretches back for centuries of using music as a means of dissent whenever and wherever freedom was threatened. The music of the '60s was in many ways defined by such voices as Dylan and Lennon railing against inequality, lost liberty and infringements on our rights to pursue happiness.

Well, a month ago, I met a man at the Big Smoke at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, in Connecticut, who is still writing protest songs. He is putting words to music that decry incursions on a pursuit that is dear to all of us: cigar smoking. I chatted up Christopher Gansky, a vocal talent from New Jersey and learned that he is also dabbles in a rock'n'roll group, and last week he sent me a CD of an album he did with a band called The Cuddly Curmudgeons: "The Bound and the Jury." Not surprisingly, the cut that I keep playing from it is called "Stogies and Stout," a rant against the Health Police.

Check out the song.

The tune, written by Gansky and guitarist/keyboard player Steve Watson, is a driving screamer reminiscent of The Ramones. The words have an unmistakable message: get the Nanny State off our backs. The lyrics hit on a number of tasty pleasures that we are so often warned away from ("I'll eat steak and eggs 'til the day that I croak, Fine cigars relieve stress that could cause a stroke") and the refrain repeats the singer's determination to resist prohibition ("I won't go without my stogies and stout").

Gansky, whose day job is doing commercial voice-overs and narrations, presciently wrote the song in 1997, before the Health Police invaded our lives in earnest. Since then the group has disbanded and he is reforming it as The Castaway Castros, a tongue in cheek reference to the Cuban dictator. "I thought it would fun to make some capitalist money off a communist," he said.

"Stogies and Stout" isn't the only cigar-referencing song by Gansky, who has smoked cigars for more than a decade and a half. He also wrote a couple of parodies: "Sweet Home Havana" (sung to the tune of "Sweet Home Alabama") and "Smokin' on the Sidewalk" (Smokin' in the Boys Room"). But "Stogies and Stout" has that protest edge to it that makes me nostalgic for my days as a student demonstrator. Plus, like most rock'n'roll, it's a lotta fun.

"Jack, this could be the guy that can get us out of the dog house, we need to get on a roll and create some awareness, smoking is not about Health it's about Rights." —May 29, 2009 15:49 PM
"Hey Ho Let's Go!" —May 29, 2009 21:14 PM