Mexicali Blues

Lyrics: John Barlow
Music: Bob Weir

Laid back in an old saloon, with a peso in my hand
Watching 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 that 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 damned good case of the Mexicali blues

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

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


And then a man rode in to town, some thought he was the law
Billie Jean was waiting when he came
She told me he would take her if I didn't use my gun
And 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 (note 1)

Is there anything a man don't stand to lose
When he lets a woman hold him in her hands
You just might find yourself out there on horseback in the dark
Just riding and running across those desert sands
(1) sometime in 1973 Bob Weir changed this line to "Now I spend my lifetime running with the Mexicali blues" - he sings the original line up to DP28 (Feb 73) but the new line on DP19 (Oct 73) and subsequently. Thanks to Neal Miskin for pointing this out to me.

Grateful Dead Recordings

Bob Weir Recordings

Other Recordings

Further Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For information on references in the lyrics see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
For online chords and TAB see


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