Mexicali Blues

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About Mexicali Blues

"Mexicali Blues" is a song from Bob Weir's 1972 Ace solo album that, like the rest of the material on that record, was de facto by the Grateful Dead. Indeed, it appears on the 1974 Skeletons from the Closet: The Best of Grateful Dead compilation. "Mexicali Blues" was written by Bob Weir and lyricist John Perry Barlow. This was the first songwriting collaboration for Weir and Barlow. Barlow has noted that Weir had an idea for a "cowboy song" and asked Barlow to write the lyrics after Robert Hunter declined. Weir would soon switch to using Barlow rather than Hunter for the bulk of his songwriting. The song concerns a man who had recently ridden to Mexicali, Mexico from Bakersfield, California. There over a bottle of booze, he thinks back upon his meeting a girl named "Billie Jean" and falling under her spell; she later appeals to the narrator to shoot a stranger when she tells him that unless he uses his gun to prevent it, the stranger will take her away. He does shoot and kill the stranger (who never even drew his gun), and then flees to Mexico rather than face hanging for his crime. 


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Laid back in an old saloon, with a peso in my hand
Watchin' flies and children on the street
And I catch a glimpse of black-eyed girls who giggle when I smile
There's a little boy who wants to shine my feet

And it's three days ride from Bakersfield and I don't know why I came
I guess I came to keep from payin' dues
So instead I've got a bottle and a girl who's just fourteen
And a damn good case of the Mexicali Blues Yeh

Is there anything a man don't stand to lose
When the devil wants to take it all away?
Cherish well your thoughts, and keep a tight grip on your booze
'Cause thinkin' and drinkin' are all I have today

She said her name was Billy Jean and she was fresh in town
I didn't know a stage line ran from hell
She had raven hair, a ruffled dress, a necklace made of gold
All the french perfume you'd care to smell

She took me up into her room and whispered in my ear
Go on, my friend, do anything you choose
Now I'm payin' for those happy hours I spent there in her arms
With a lifetime's worth of the Mexicali Blues, yeh

Is there anything a man don't stand to lose
When the devil wants to take it all away?
Cherish well your thoughts, and keep a tight grip on your booze
'Cause thinkin' and drinkin' are all I have today

And then a man rode into town, some thought he was the law
Billy Jean was waitin' when he came
She told me he would take her, if I didn't use my gun
I'd have no one but myself to blame

I went down to those dusty streets, blood was on my mind
I guess that stranger hadn't heard the news
'Cause I shot first and killed him, Lord, he didn't even draw
And he made me trade the gallows for the Mexicali Blues,yeh

Is there anything a man don't stand to lose
When he lets a woman hold him in her hands?
He just might find himself out there on horseback in the dark
Just ridin' and runnin' across those desert sands

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Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long musical improvisation. "Their music," writes Lenny Kaye, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists." These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world." They were ranked 57th in the issue The Greatest Artists of all Time by Rolling Stone magazine. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their Barton Hall Concert at Cor… more »

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