INTERESTING STUFF – 21 February 2020
Old Age is Greedy

ELDER MUSIC: Mexico is Different Like the Travel Folder Says

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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Mexican Flag

Mexico has featured in quite a lot of songs. That’s not too surprising considering that the country borders Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, all of which harbor very talented songwriters. Some of those will appear today.

Of course, Belize and Guatemala also border Mexico, but their songwriters are less well known, at least in the English speaking world.

Had the album “Waitress in a Donut Shop” been MARIA MULDAUR’s first solo album everyone would have raved about how good it was. Justifiably so.

However, her first was an eponymous album that is one of the finest ever recorded, so anything that followed that one was certain to be downgraded. It’s time to lift up that second one and give it the kudos it deserves.

Maria Muldaur

From that one we have Gringo en Mexico.

♫ Maria Muldaur - Gringo en Mexico

Here’s just another band from East L.A., as they like to call themselves – LOS LOBOS.

Los Lobos

Much of their music is Mexican in origin or very much influenced by the music of that country. Their song references both their antecedents and the country in which they live: Mexico Americano.

♫ Los Lobos - Mexico Americano

When I was first selecting songs for this column, I chose a bunch and let them roll. When this next one came up, after a single line I knew it had to be present.

The harmony vocals were gorgeous. I wondered who they were and checked it. It was JANN BROWNE, sometime lead singer for Asleep at the Wheel, and EMMYLOU HARRIS (no more needs to be said).

Jann Browne & Emmylou Harris

They perform a song written by Jann along with Pat Gallagher and Roger Stebner. It’s called Mexican Wind.

♫ Emmylou Harris - Mexican Wind

It’s understandable that Americans would write about Mexico, but it’s not so obvious that an Australian would do so. After all, it’s a long way away, and it’s not just a matter of hopping in the car and driving down there.

One of my countrymen, however, seems to be the expert on writing songs about the country, some of the best around really. That person is KEVIN JOHNSON.

Kevin Johnson

I like films (and songs) with an enigmatic ending, and this is one of those: Grab the Money and Run.

♫ Kevin Johnson - Grab The Money And Run

This next song was a really difficult choice for me, not the song itself, it was an automatic inclusion. The choice was which version to include. Normally, I’d go with the writer, and he was one of the two about whom I was tossing and turning.

He is Ian Tyson. However, for once I’ve gone for a cover version. It’s not too surprising that I’ve gone with my musical crush, JENNIFER WARNES.

Jennifer Warnes

If anyone can equal a performance of Ian’s, it’s Jennifer. Here she sings Blue Mountains of Mexico.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Blue Mountains Of Mexico

Here’s a group I bet you haven’t thought about for some considerable time - KATRINA AND THE WAVES.

Katrina & the Waves

Katrina is an American who found fame in Britain in the eighties, particularly with the song Walking on Sunshine. One song that didn’t get much airplay is simply called Mexico.

♫ Katrina and the Waves - Mexico

It’s not too surprising that MARTY ROBBINS would be present.

Marty Robbins

After all, if you listen to some of his biggest hits they sound as if they were recorded in Mexico. They weren’t of course, but he was really fond of Mariachi trumpets in many of his songs, including this one, Bound for Old Mexico.

♫ Marty Robbins - Bound for Old Mexico

The song Mexican Divorce was written by Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard. It was first recorded by The Drifters who did a fine job of singing it. It was later covered by Ry Cooder and later still by NICOLETTE LARSON.

Nicolette Larson

As good as the other versions are, I really like Nicolette’s and that’s the one we have today.

♫ Nicolette Larson - Mexican Divorce

DELBERT MCCLINTON has a story not too dissimilar to Kevin Johnson’s.

Delbert McClinton

Unfortunately for Delbert, it ended worse than it did for Kev. You can never tell the consequences of a falling out among thieves. Delbert goes (or at least he started to go) Down Into Mexico.

♫ Delbert McClinton - Down Into Mexico

Back in the late seventies, STEVE FORBERT was touted as the next big thing, the new Bob Dylan (there was a bit of that at the time).

Steve Forbert

That didn’t eventuate, not through lack of talent; Steve has that in spades. It was due to management issues and disagreements with his record company that prevented him from recording for many years.

He performed during that time and has been recording again for the last couple of decades. His song is Mexico, a different song from Katrina’s.

♫ Steve Forbert - Mexico

You were probably expecting this one, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint you. I’m talking about the song, rather than the singer. Enough waffle, here is the singing cowboy (or one of them), GENE AUTRY.

Gene Autry

Gene was the first of the famous singing cowboys – there were others before him but they didn’t catch on to any great extent. Of course, there was another who followed him, and he was Roy Rogers. However, here is Gene with South of the Border.

♫ Gene Autry - South Of The Border


I didn't know there was someone else who had a musical crush on jennifer Warnes but I have since the first time almost 40 years ago when I heard her song "Mama." I've always wanted to see her perform but I'm still waiting to see her tour near me....

So very long since I heard Gene Autry. :-)

You did a lot of work and exposed me to a lot of folks I had no idea were out there. :-)

I almost always delight in your musical offerings but today was especially wonderful. Jennifer Warnes is a treasure, as is Ian Tyson. When I was a kid, I won a free ticket to see Gene Autry at a department store performance in Omaha. Although Roy Rogers was my favorite, I felt proud to go to a live performance.

I highly recommend watching this full concert video of the lovely and amazing Linda Ronstadt from the late 1980's. Few are aware of her Mexican roots and she belts out some famous love songs in this concert, taken from her album at that time called CANCIONES DE MI PADRE (Songs from My Father). I remember seeing her at one of these concerts and am still blown away. If you can get a CD copy of the album, you can read the translation of the lyrics for each song, usually about love, loss, joy, and life.

Search for the following on YouTube:

Linda Ronstadt Canciones de mi Padres Complete Concert

Cal Vid on YouTube uploaded it.

If you can watch full screen on your TV it's even better, give the large performance stage.

Initially, I thought this would be Mexican music, as I hear my householder play as she moves from room to room. It's become a form of 'cheer up' therapy for me and often is on the car radio to ease a troublesome or boring ride.

But you had these women I love here - Maria, Emmylou, Jann and Jennifer. Jennifer I first heard on Orbison's Black and White video and spent the afternoon solely listening to her and appreciating her multi-musically talents. And she holds her own with Joe Cocker.

Whew! Love these lazy, crazy days like this, or perhaps it's more correctly these energizing, enriching full days...

Dear Peter, Thanks for the wonderful music, even though I live in Mexico, the music resonates with me.

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