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This song derives its name from bacanora, an agave-based liquor originating from Bacanora, Mexico, which until 1992 was illegal to distill. Singer/songwriter Andy Hersey happily blames the alcohol - and chief instigator Roger Clyne - for the events that inspired the song. "The way it worked is, Roger and I went on a hike. He had a teepee that he and his family had set up on the ranch. Well, we had to walk about two miles to get to the teepee from the house that we were staying at on the ranch. So Roger and I, and flashlights, a bottle of bacanora - which was in a mason jar that used to have peaches in it, so it was peach-flavored bacanora, basically, that we took - a couple of beers, and Roger said, 'Okay, I'm going to go to sleep now. Be sure that the fire doesn't go out in this teepee, because if it does, it'll smolder and the whole place will fill up with smoke.' So, me and my bacanora... I just started keeping the fire lit. And Roger wakes up and the fire is almost touching the outer tent of the canvas of the teepee. So we ended up walking around outside. And I said, 'Well, we'll blame it on the Mexican moonshine and the bacanora.' And so we ended up doing paces around the outside of the teepee half-naked because we left our clothes inside because we were so hot. And that's how that started and ended was right there. It genuinely was. It was a fun, fun thing. I kept the fire going, though. Roger told me not to let the fire go out, so I didn't. I did as per my instructions."
Hersey: "In a song I wrote called 'Companero Blanco,' there's kind of a narrative, and I referred to the spirit that we were drinking, me and the other character, Rueben, he handed me a bottle of bacanora, and it was the first time I had ever experienced that. And basically it is moonshine from south of the line. And it was terrific. So in this narrative, I thought, I like the way that 'Mexican moonshine…' I like the kind of alliteration there. And I presented it to Roger and P.H. Naffah, the drummer in Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. And Roger said, 'You know, you've got about 14 different hook lines in that song.' And I said, 'Well, Roger, the song is 6-minutes long. I didn't write it for radio, I wrote it for me, actually.' I mean, I wrote it because it just came out, and it took that long to say everything I needed to say. He said, 'You've got 14 different hook lines for 14 different songs just right there.' I said, 'Well, pick your favorite one.' He said, 'I like Mexican moonshine.' I said, 'Well, let's write it.' And so we ended up coming up with our story for 'Mexican Moonshine.'"
Hersey and Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers both recorded their own very different versions of this song. Andy chalks those differences up to the different singing styles of both artists, and the individual strengths of their voices. He says, "Roger has the Penasco version of 'Mexican Moonshine,' but I can't sing that yodel every night and keep my voice put together. Roger has more talent than I do, so I have to do kind of the Galveston Bay version of it, where it would be sung more solid, more monotone a little bit. Hopefully the same sentiment is there.
Roger starts off with the chorus. Roger starts off with the hook. And I, as a full-on soloist storyteller, start with a little bit of story, and then work my way into 'Mexican moonshine.' I start off with, 'Let the world call 'em crow's feet, we can call 'em laugh lines.' And then I work my way up into the chorus. I don't have the pipes that Roger does, so he gets to sing it however he wants to." (Read more in the Andy Hersey interview
. Learn more about Roger Clyne in his Songfacts interview
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