Puerto Penasco, Rocky Point, Mexico

Your Name On A Grain of Rice by Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers

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Now my second home is a third world cantina
I spend years alone every day I don't see you
And to me the sunset sinkin' in the sky
Looks like my own bleeding corazon Read full Lyrics
"I see the fighter planes tearing across the desert sky, do I curse them or cheer them on? I still can't decide."

Roger Clyne is not a preachy man. In fact, he endeavors to get a point across in his music without preaching, because he figures it's not his place to tell others how to feel. But back in 2003, with the Iraq War getting into swing, it was Clyne who was the subject of intense scrutiny by those whom he'd lived and performed among his entire life: the population of Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Mexico. They cast their disapproving eyes upon him, the gringo amongst them, who by default of his very existence there bore the responsibility of what was happening between the U.S. and Iraq.

Rocky point beachRocky point beach
Clyne had gone on sabbatical to Rocky Point, a place he'd called his "second home" since his childhood days growing up in Southern Arizona. He'd hit a rough patch in his writing stride when his wife Alisa did what all good wives need to do on occasion: kicked him out. With good intent, however. Always the level head, she knew what Roger needed to get the creativity flowing again, and it was the sands, surf, slow living and great food of Mexico.

And thus he found himself in a cantina surrounded by locals, drinking warm cervezas, and wondering about the decisions of his homeland leaders, the very people he'd been taught to support. He didn't feel like supporting them, but he didn't want to condemn them, either. And since a writer's sword is his pen, Clyne went back to his beachside villa and got to writing. The blood started pumping, the brain synapses began firing, and the ink began to flow. By the time he crossed back over the U.S. border, he had the ingredients for what would become RCPM's 3rd studio album, ¡Americano!, which would be released in January 2004, and reach #1 in Billboard Internet Sales and #20 on the Billboard Top Indie Albums charts.

Roger Clyne in Rocky PointRoger Clyne in Rocky Point
From an album replete with songs of double-crossing drug dealing, a fugitive's fruitless run through the Mexican badlands, and a rail against God for the advent of firearms, "Your Name on A Grain of Rice" is a beautifully poignant song directed at his wife, the person strong enough to send him on this journey to reclaim the soul of his songwriting : "I ain't runnin' away, just trying to find you something better inside me."

And the Rocky Point that Clyne talks of in this song is the same one upon which tourist legends derive, and which Clyne writes about or mentions in nearly all of his songs in one fashion or another. People really do wander around the expansive beaches "selling silver and souvenirs," and they will happily write your name on a grain of rice (an incredible feat for most north-of-the-border folk), put it in a tiny water-filled bottle, and string a small leather strip to it for a necklace. It is common to negotiate for these types of souvenirs down below the border, and often the seller has no problem lowering their price - a few American dollars can feed a family in Rocky Point for a week or more - so to "pay full price" for someone's name on a grain of rice… that's Clyne's one-of-a-kind way of saying he cares enough to not negotiate.

Shawna Hansen Ortega
March 18, 2014
Photos by the author
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