Any Major Mexico
On Tuesday, November 8, US citizens will have the option to elect as their president a spittle-spewing sphincter-mouthed polemicist who peddles the delusion the USA can build a wall across the long Mexican border — and make Mexico pay for it.
At least a third of Americans think that the streams of excrement that is being pumped into the US political discourse (and not only by old sphincter-mouth) is reasonable, aside from all the other poisonous stench which that bluster-bully has emitted from the putrid cesspool inside his corroded cranial cavity.
I have no idea whether former Mexican President Vicente Fox has any other redeeming features, but I enjoyed that particular Bad Hombre’s response to the crazy clown’s idea: “We’re not paying for that fucking wall.” This angered the bankrupt billionaire so much that he demanded an apology!
So this seems like a good time to observe the US-Mexico relationship via the medium of song, through which no demagogic dickhead can build a barrier.
Mexico has always fascinated songwriters. In Germany’s Schlager scene of the 1960s and ’70s, Mexico was the big thing. The biggest hit of them all was Rex Gildo’s rousing Fiesta Mexicana, which remains a cult hit in Germany, despite (or perhaps because) its cheesy arrangement. Still, Gildo’s exclamations of “Hossa!” rank among the most-inspired moments in ’70s pop, in any language. I include it as a bonus track.
In other songs the dreaded Heino sang about Tampico, Tony Marshall had Adios Amigos, Freddy Quinn chipped in with some Mexico song, Caterina Valente with another, and others with yet more songs about tequila and fiestas and senoritas. The Germany-based Les Humphries Singers sang their 1972 Schlager about Mexico in English (shamelessly ripping off Jimmy Driftwood’s The Battle Of New Orleans), and that is included here.
And Cuban singer Roberto Blanco made a German version of Tom Jones’ The Young New Mexican Puppeteer — and that takes us back to the US elections and the bigotry and fear-mongering and lack of kindness exhibited by the narcissistic nutter and the freak show that is doing his bidding. The song, by Jones or Blanco, isn’t set in Mexico but in a town near Albuquerque (which, of course, was annexed from Mexico), so it doesn’t qualify for inclusion in this mix. But listen to its lyrics HERE; they reference Lincoln, King and Twain. “The young New Mexican puppeteer, he saw the people all lived in fear. He thought that maybe they would listen to a puppet telling them what to do.” Hell, if the US doesn’t need a New Mexican puppeteer right now to bring peace and joy and civil rights, rather than Putin’s or Wall Street’s puppet.
One act German Schlager singers didn’t tend to cover was The Grateful Dead. They feature here in the guise of Bob Weir, from his 1972 Ace LP, which basically was a Dead album. Indeed, Mexicali Blues was a staple of the Deads’ live shows and was included on their 1974 greatest hits collection.
Frank Sinatra confuses matters a little. His 1956 cover of the 1930 hit It Happened In Monterrey takes the spelling of the California town, but the lyrics indicate that the song is still set in the city in Nuevo León state.
To be sure: This set is not intended to showcase Mexican music or Mexican acts, though the set closes with a tejano-fusion act, the Texas Tornados, whose members included Sir Douglas Quintet founders Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, swamp rocker Freddy Fender, and accordionist Flaco Jiménez, one of those artists who have worked with some of the greatest acts in rock (such as like Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder and the Rolling Stones, who open this set) but whose name isn’t widely known.
Indeed, much of the mix is pretty relaxed, with few sounds of mariachi and no Speedy Gonzalez clichés abounding.
Above I disqualify Tom Jones’ song for being set in Albuquerque, not in Mexico. I also excluded Christopher Cross’ Ride Like The Wind for stopping at the border to Mexico. But at least two songs are not located in Mexico either: James Taylor is singing about his desire to go to Mexico, but he certainly is there already in his mind.
Dave Alvin’s sublime Rio Grande takes various stops in places in Texas and New Mexico, but from there he observes the storm clouds above Juarez and stares at the lights of Mexico before walking to the border bridge where the eponymous river forms the border. The song is wonderful; it also featured on Any Major Country Vol. 20.
As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (so there were a few good songs I had to exclude) and includes home-fiestad covers. PW in comments.
1. The Rolling Stones – I’m Going Down (1975)
2. John Prine – Mexican Home (1973)
3. Delbert McClinton – Down Into Mexico (2005)
4. Carbon Leaf – Mexico (2009)
5. Blake Shelton – Playboys Of The Southwestern World (2003)
6. Dave Alvin – Rio Grande (2004)
7. Chris Isaak – South Of The Border (1996)
8. Merle Haggard – Mexican Bands (2010)
9. Steve Earle – Goodbye (1995)
10. Warren Zevon – Veracruz (1978)
11. Hoyt Axton – Evangelina (1975)
12. Emmylou Harris – Spanish Is A Loving Tongue (1981)
13. James Taylor – Mexico (1975)
14. Townes Van Zandt – Pancho And Lefty (1993)
15. Donovan – Sand And Foam (1967)
16. Bob Weir – Mexicali Blues (1972)
17. The Kingston Trio – Tijuana Jail (1959)
18. Long John Baldry – Mexico (1968)
19. Frank Sinatra – It Happened In Monterey (1956)
20. Stan Kenton and His Orchestra feat. June Christy – Tampico (1945)
21. Herb Alpert – Tijuana Taxi (1966)
22. Les Humphries Singers – Mexico (1972)
23. Texas Tornados – Adios Mexico (1990)
Bonus: Rex Gildo – Fiesta Mexicana (1972)