Wednesday, May 5, 2010

FP Top 5: Songs About Mexico

(Starting today, Frontier Psychiatrist will be running a weekly Wednesday column of Top 5s. It sounds gimmicky, but what can we say? We love lists.) 

In honor of the 148th anniversary of Mexico's victory over French occupying forces at the Battle of Puebla (not Mexican Independence Day, which occurs on 16 September), we give you our top 5 Songs About Mexico.  The top 5 is gathered exclusively from the last ten years, so you will find no James Taylor, Wall of Voodoo, or Cake in this space.  You will, however, find some great music.  So sit back, relax, enjoy some songs, and do what Americans do best: appropriate another culture's history as an excuse to drink!

5. The Black Keys - Have Love Will Travel
All the best songs are about girls.

4. Calexico - The Crystal Frontier
This song is so awesome, they played it in space.  Inspired by Carlos Fuentes' short story collection of same name.  

3. Beirut - Guaymas Sonora
For some reason, the indie machine has decided that Beirut should be a minor player rather than a major star.  Likely another example of bias against Gypsies.  Beirut recorded their EP March of the Zapotepec in the small Oaxaca village of Teotitlán del Valle, but this song (the title of which references an area in which FP hero Roberto Bolaño set much of his work) is from their full-length The Flying Cup Club.

2. Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Cortez The Killer
OK, so we obviously cheated on this one: this song was clearly recorded more than ten years ago.  You can understand how we would be confused, however, as an unscientific FP survey confirms that this song has been covered more than any other this side of "Love Will Tear Us Apart."  To wit: Built to Spill recorded a twenty-minute (!) version for their excellent live album in 2000, and members of Deerhunter and No Age teamed with film director Jim Jarmusch to perform a version far too creepy to be shown on this blog.  Included below are Young's original version from the album Zuma, as well as a solo acoustic cover performed by chanteuse Marissa Nadler

Neil Young and Crazy Horse (Original Version)

Marissa Nadler (Cover Version)

1. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
If you are unclear as to the precise meaning of the phrase "Icky Thump," please refer to the lyrics.  Suffice it to say that Jack White's trip to Mexico was profoundly different from the one I took as a seven-year-old.  Lucky for us, he was able to transform the experience into the face-melter below:

To quote the late, great Omar Little (a man who knew a thing or two about Mexico), "Oh, indeed."  Not convinced?  Watch the live performance below:

Now go home and clean up after yourself.


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