Cheech & Chong Talk 40th Anniversary of ‘Up In Smoke,’ Share 2018 Version of Movie’s Title Track: Exclusive

Cheech & Chong are going Up In Smoke again to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their hit, trend-setting stoner film.

To accompany the film’s new release and a new edition of the soundtrack, the duo recorded “Up In Smoke 2018,” with revised lyrics that Cheech Marin tells Billboard “gives a little update from the front.” He and Tommy Chong recorded the track with Cisco Adler, whose father Lou Adler produced and directed the film, and had no trouble getting back in character — considering they’ve never really fallen too far from their film characters of Pedro De Pacas and Anthony “Man” Stoner.

“It was so easy,” Chong says. “I think I wrote my part in about a half-hour and Cheech wrote his part in about a half-hour, then we recorded it in another half-hour. It was real simple. We’ve been on the road doing Cheech & Chong ever since, so it wasn’t a real big stretch to get back in the studio and do it.”

“Yeah, we had chops and shit,” Marin adds.

Up In Smoke initially came out as a single during August of 1978 to coincide with the movie’s release. The soundtrack features dialogue as well as other songs, including a cover of War’s “Low Rider,” while the 40th anniversary edition also includes a previously unreleased version of “Up In Smoke” with an additional Spanish verse by Marin. The re-release also brings the soundtrack back to vinyl for the first time since its original release.

The 40th anniversary edition DVD of the film, meanwhile, features new commentary by Marin and Adler, the documentaries How Pedro Met The Man: Up In Smoke at 40 and Lighting It Up: A Look Back At Up In Smoke, the theatrical trailer and vintage radio spots, and the animated music video for Cheech & Chong’s “Earache My Eye.” And fittingly, on 4/20, a Cheech and Chong exhibit will open at the Grammy Museum.

“It feels like it was about four minutes (ago), not 40 years,” Chong says. “I think more than anything, the phenomenon was we painted a positive spin when everybody else was painting a negative spin — either you’re dealing or you’re killing each other over drugs, y’know? But this was a movie that was very simple, about getting high and playing music and trying to find your way home, basically. That was the story, and it resonated with everybody. We changed a culture; We took a whole culture out of the ghetto and put it in the mainstream, and it’s been there since.”

Cheech and Chong are confident U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t taking advantage of the Up In Smoke pre-order — “They’re doing exploratory surgery; They’re looking for a heart,” Chong cracks — but the duo is happy with the state of marijuana law reform in the U.S. now. “There’s 29 states that have some sort of legalized form of marijuana,” Marin says. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.” And Chong, who credits marijuana use with helping him battle cancer, adds that, “The Trump people would like to think different but, no, we’re definitely moving in the right direction. People know.”

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