Joe Boris New Single “Set Me Free”

At first glance, the song title to Joe Boris’ single “Set Me Free” reads like a cry for release some oppression or other. It’s a demand for immediate change, one might gather. Perhaps, even a command for the same. Then when the music starts, with its loping reggae groove, you (the listener) are set up for this brand new social/political anthem. But no, this is not a cover of a Bob Marley rant, or even one inspired by his music. (Well, it could be inspired by the practices of Marley’s Rastafarian religious beliefs). The song is, instead, a musical/lyrical request for some weed to smoke, instead. Rastafarians are known to smoke pot as part of their religious practices. More accurately, Boris’ single is a love song for marijuana.

The title is not the sound of Boris demanding freedom from his captures. Instead, it is a description of how smoking marijuana makes Boris feel. It ‘sets him free’ whenever he’s getting high. On the one hand, the song’s lyric expresses Boris’ feelings about the smokable plant. However, musically, it is a five-minute track that allows Boris to stretch out and express his strong guitar skills. It includes an extensive electric guitar solo within it, as well as plenty of wonderful electric guitar rhythm.

The song’s style, speaking again about Bob Marley, is reggae. It rolls to a gently rocking groove. In addition to its guitar sounds, it also includes roaming bass and steady drumming. Much like Marley’s Wailers, there are also female backing vocalists mirroring Boris’ “Give me some ganja” chorus lines.

Boris has been on the East Coast music scene since the ‘90s and moved in circles that have included luminaries like Clarence Clemons and Garth Hudson. For someone who is now a mature adult (at least in age), the words to this song sure come off simplistic and innocent. This tribute to the way smoking pot makes Boris feel could just have just as easily come from a junior high student. In other words, Boris doesn’t make a compelling argument for, say, the legalization of pot, in places where it is still illegal. Boris says he loves this plant so much, that when he dies, he wants those he’s survived by to, “Bury me in a ganja field ten feet high.” Unless attitudes about drugs change radically and rapidly between now and the time he passes on, he’s likely not going to receive this wish. If the ganja is at least ten feet high, his tombstone would probably need to be eleven feet tall in order to be seen above all the ganja plants. But then, we’re probably overthinking this scenario.


On just a musical level, though, this is an enjoyable song. Reggae music sounds so darn good whenever it’s done correctly, and with “Set Me Free,” Boris gets the groove just right. Boris is not going to win any downtrodden individuals their freedom with this song. Instead, he’s given himself the opportunity to tell his listeners exactly how he feels about toking on his favorite substance. He calls this stuff heavenly weed, and he clearly loves singing its praises with this sweet leaf of a track.

-Dan MacIntosh