You only think about yourself
You'd better bend before I go
On the first train to Mexico
Tourist souvenirs, Tijuana, Mexico
The Amtrak train winds south through the state of California, clattering and careening along tracks cutting through the Baja California Peninsula towards the arid border town of Tijuana. With a cosmopolitan population of almost 2 million, Tijuana is one of the largest cities in Mexico and a popular destination spot for American day-trippers and immigrant workers. The city has a salacious reputation not only for its historical notoriety during the Prohibition Era, but also for its zona norte
prostitution district, the ease with which drugs can be purchased on the streets, and the city's level of crime and corruption. Despite the less salubrious aspects of Tijuana, it has grown from a small border town into a huge city of economic importance. It's not hard to imagine vagabond youth looking for a good time, heading to Tijuana for a debaucherous weekend, escaping real life for a romp across the border. Perhaps it was this very yen for the rollicking respite from real life that inspired Incubus's song “Mexico.”
The song “Mexico” is the seventh track on Morning View
, the fourth studio album from rap-rock, jazz-fusion alternative Californian band, Incubus. “Mexico” is an acoustic segue on an album that is otherwise groovy and ambient, including the strange soundscapes of tracks featuring the Chinese Pipa and a Japanese orchestra. “Mexico” is less experimental, featuring front-man Brandon Boyd singing while Michael Einzinger caresses his acoustic guitar. The song also includes a string arrangement that adds that extra ambiance indicative of Incubus's signature sound. Boyd shows off his vocal range and the plain singing style so different from the band's earlier rap influenced stylings.
US/Tijuana border crossing
“Mexico” is a poignant reflection on a relationship going wrong, something to which most people can relate. The song seems to have profound personal significance to Boyd as well. In more than one live performance, Boyd seems to get choked up towards the end of the song, and though there's no official word on the meaning behind this song, Boyd did admit in an interview that, “While we were writing that album, I was in the midst of a pretty nasty breakup. One of my first instances of love, loss and true disillusionment.” At least some of those emotions seem to have filtered into “Mexico” with lines like “You could see me bleeding, but you did not put pressure on the wound.” Hopping on the first train to Mexico might then be seen as a much needed escape from such a depressing situation, and where better to lose yourself than in Tijuana on the streets teeming with girls and booze and delightful vice.
Although Morning View
is better known for the more rocking singles like “I Wish You Were Here” and “Nice to Know You,” “Mexico” stands out as a raw and uncomplicated song of honest emotion, capturing the melancholy of a man needing to escape himself, to forget himself, seeking solace across the border, and to drown his sorrows in a bottle of tequila. ~ Suzanne van Rooyen
Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. Her published novels include
Dragon's Teeth, Obscura Burning, and
The Other Me. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and eats far too much peanut-butter.