I Felt Like A Gringo

Album: Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat (1983)

Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by bassist and lyricist, Mike Watt, about a day trip that he took to Mexico with his Minutemen band mates on the Fourth of July in 1982. This also happened to fall on Mexico's Election Day. Watt felt overcome by a sense of naivety when discussing the country's political situation with the locals, hence why he refers to himself as a "gringo," which is a slang term for a foreigner: "Our Fourth of July one time, was, coincidentally, on their Election Day. And I asked this guy, 'Hey, what about the election?' And this guy literally laughed at me. And he goes, 'Hey, man, you're f*cking nuts. They set up opposition parties to make it look like democracy. It's fake.'"
  • That same trip to Mexico spawned one of Minutemen's most popular songs, "Corona," which you may best know as the theme tune to Jackass. Watt told the author, Michael T. Fournier: "Okay, so we're in Mexico and it's really profound to us, just as things - the election, Fourth of July, outside symbols. They're two sides of the same coin, the Mexico trip. 'Corona'/'I Felt Like A Gringo.' They're impressionistic works. Events were happening around us and we were dealing with 'em. It's not like we had answers or anything, you know?"
  • Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat, Minutemen's fourth EP, cost only $50 to make. It featured lyrical contributions from Black Flag vocalist, Henry Rollins and bassist, Chuck Dukowski. The EP's front cover, an ink drawing of Watt having an argument with band mate, D. Boon, was drawn by Saccharine Trust guitarist, Joe Baiza.

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