Monday, 10 August 2015

My Top Ten Mexico Songs

Hola, amigos, gringos and muchachos... and other stereotypical Mexican greetings. This week, in lieu of anything resembling a decent summer in the UK, I thought I'd go somewhere hot...

10. Morrissey - Mexico 

Always keen to sieze the role of the underdog, Moz finds empathy for Mex when he senses "the hate from the Lone Star State". (As we'll see later, not all Texans are enemies of Texas.)
It seems if you're rich and you're white
You think you're so right
I just don't see why this should be so
Sometimes I think he writes songs like this just to confuse the NME.

Special mention here to Jose Maldonado, The Mexican Morrissey.

9. Nirvana - Mexican Seafood

Kurt has a yeast infection and it hurts when he pees. No, really.

Originally recorded as part of Nirvana's first ever studio demo - way back in 1988, before Dave Grohl even joined the band.

8. James Taylor - Mexico

The idea of Mexico as an idyllic, take-it-easy getaway is questioned by the king of idyllic, take-it-easy Californian cool.

7. Cake - Mexico

I'll never say no to a slice of Cake.

I don't know much about Cinco De Mayo
I'm never sure, what it's all about
But I say I want you and you don't believe me
You say you want me but I've got my doubts

Apparently, Cinco De Mayo is the day the Mexican army thrashed the French. Seems reason enough to celebrate to me. (Only kidding, French readers.)

6. Toby Keith - Stays In Mexico

I'm often vocal in my defence of contemporary country against naysayers who claim it's cheesy, overblown, jingoistic nonsense.

I will stand up and make a claim for the best of the genre representing the kind of classic storytelling guitar pop Squeeze, Kirsty MacColl or Pulp once brought into the UK charts: the kind of songs you might think nobody writes anymore.

Toby Keith is an interesting case though. At times he commits all the crimes named in that first paragraph - sometimes egregiously. He has neither the wit nor the smarts of Brad Paisley nor the sincere pop cool of Blake Shelton. But on occasion, he writes a clever, amusing ditty like this one that I just can't get out of my head. It's about a couple of strangers who meet in a Mexican bar. Both are married, but not to each other...
One more tequila
And they were falling in love
One more is never enough...
I was amused by a review quoted on iffypedia saying the song was "great until you process the depth of its immorality; then, you’re just sick to your stomach." Yeah, like nobody's ever written a pop song glorifying infidelity before...

5. Frank Sinatra - South of the Border

Originally recorded by "the singing cowboy", Gene Autry, but nobody beats old blue eyes.

4. The Coasters - Down In Mexico

Classic Leiber and Stoller number from 1956, resurrected by Quentin Tarantino in the soundtrack of Death Proof.

3. Elbow - Mexican Standoff

Guy Garvey wishes a love rival dead... if only he was tough enough to take some kind of action... 
Your sweet reassurances don't change the fact
That he's better looking than me
Yet he'd look ideal 'neath the wheels of a car
Oh, Mexican standoff, I wish I was hard
One of the best lines in the second series of True Detective came from Vince Vaughan...

"That's one off my bucket list: a Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans..."

2. Fountains of Wayne - Mexican Wine

Love the Fountains - surprised they don't show up here more often. This is from the excellent album Welcome, Interstate Managers (one of their best) and it showcases their always entertaining mix of power pop guitars and Douglas Coupland-esque lyrics...
He was killed by a cellular phone explosion
They scattered his ashes across the ocean
The water was used to make baby lotion
The wheels of promotion were set into motion
1. Blake Shelton - Playboys Of The Southwestern World

A few weeks back I was singing the praises of Shelton's Austin, but here we go a little bit further south as he and his old buddy John Roy take a Mexican vacation and end up with "a little change of plans... like when Paul McCartney got busted in Japan". With a little help from Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl along the way (I love the way Shelton sings those sha-la-las kinda out of tune, like a couple of drunk mates would). A great song about friendship, with a wicked sense of humour and a wonderfully flawed narrator too.
Ah we're still best friends
(Temporary cell mates...)

Which is your Mexican Hat Dance?


  1. 'Young New Mexican Puppeteer' by Tom Jones? Good to see the Fountains of Wayne on board - a great band.

    1. Tom was on my long list... didn't quite make the 10.

  2. Mexican Radio - Wall of Voodoo!

  3. Wall of Voodoo! How did we forget them?

    1. Same reason I forgot The Small Faces last week. Old age.


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