Jim James and Calexico: Going to Acapulco (2007)

 |   |  1 min read

Jim James and Calexico: Going to Acapulco (2007)

Acapulco in Mexico is widely known as a party destination for many Americans, but in Bob Dylan's Goin' to Acapulco -- which appeared on The Basement Tapes -- the mood is anything but celebratory, party-on-dude and joyous.

Dylan and the Band drag their way through the lyrics as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders, and the idea of "goin' to have some fun" (in a Mexican brothel) hardly sounds convincing at all.

It is one of the best but largely ignnored songs on that double Basement Tapes album.

Yes, there's some sly sexual innuendo: "blow/plough my plum[?]" and "when the well breaks down I just go pump on it some, Rose Marie she likes to go to big places and just sits there waiting for me to come".

But the sex doesn't sound enjoyable either.

The mood suggests this is a scratch-livin' wicked world where humour is refused, and whatever optimism there is ("if the clouds don't drop and the train don't stop I'm bound to meet the sun") sounds qualified and hollow.

This bleak song turned up in Todd Haynes' Dylan film I'm Not There in an especially fine version by Jim James (of My Morning Jacket) with Calexico.

The original song's weary mood now became more yearning, defeatist and anxious because of the setting.

The Dylan character (Richard Gere) stumbles into a world which looks like the fag end of the Civil War where broken soldiers, farmers, the dead, carnival folk and circus animals seem to drift aimlessly and without hope. Or are waiting for something to happen which will redeem their sad situation.

James sings as if he knows he and they will never leave this place, for Acapulco or anywhere at all . . . and the people looking on know too that this is the end of times.

And they are characters who could have walked out of the "old weird America" where much of Dylan's songs around this period were coming from.

If you are interested in Dylan on film then check this out.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

James Ray: Got My Mind Set on You (1962)

James Ray: Got My Mind Set on You (1962)

Pub quiz question. Who was the first Beatle to set foot in the United States? If you are thinking back to those famous images of them coming off that PanAm Clipper in February 1964 in New York... > Read more

Sly Stone: Just Like a Baby (1970)

Sly Stone: Just Like a Baby (1970)

If we think of the great Sly Stone at all these days it's the celebratory guy leading the Family Stone at Woodstock and then great albums like Stand and There's A Riot Goin' On. But flick back... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Joe Bonamassa: Blues of Desperation (Southbound)

Joe Bonamassa: Blues of Desperation (Southbound)

Despite commercial success and enthusiastic audiences at his shows, bluesman Bonamassa is also a divisive figure: many blues guitarists for example see him only as a sum of his considerable... > Read more

SLY DUNBAR INTERVIEWED (2003): Pull up to the drummer, baby

SLY DUNBAR INTERVIEWED (2003): Pull up to the drummer, baby

Silly question maybe, but you have to start by asking drummer Sly Dunbar -- one half of the legendary Sly'n'Robbie rhythm section alongside bassist Robbie Shakespeare -- what he's been up to... > Read more