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Paradise of Bachelors

Hills of Mexico

by Jake Xerxes Fussell

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Well when I was in old Fort Worth in 18 and 83 Come a Mexican cowboy come stepping up to me Saying how are you, young fellow How would you like to go Come and spend another season with me in Mexico? Well I have no employment, back to him I say It’s according to your wages, according to your pay I will pay to you good wages and often too you know If you’ll spend another season with me in Mexico Spent my wages on the steamboat and back to home did go How the bells they did ring, the whistles they did blow How the bells they did ring, the whistles they did blow Through one god forsaken forest in the hills of Mexico


Jake Xerxes Fussell returns with a wistful and timely interpretation of a traditional 19th c. ballad about going to Mexico to work the cattle drive, and the hardships and insecurity of underemployment and migrant work.

“Hills of Mexico” is one of many narrative ballads where the singer-narrator is approached by a stranger in transit with a business proposition that turns out to be not so great for singer-narrator. Many of the European ballads of this kind deal with highwaymen and their exploits, mostly in the 17th and 18th centuries. In this particular (19th century) instance the proposition entails going to Mexico to work the cattle drive. Many regional variants from this family, alternately known as “The Trail of the Buffalo,” have been sung in a variety of musical contexts and communities. My version borrows heavily from Roscoe Holcomb’s narrative, which is mysterious in that it omits the Mexico part itself almost entirely.

Thanks to Kevin McNamee-Tweed for the artwork: “Steamboat,” 2018, Glazed ceramic, 9.25” x 7”.

— Jake Xerxes Fussell


released March 5, 2021

Jake Xerxes Fussell: vocals & guitar
Casey Toll: bass
Nathan Bowles: drums
Libby Rodenbough: violin

Recorded by Nick Petersen, Track & Field Recording, Durham, NC.
Mixed by Jeff Zeigler, Uniform Recording, Philadelphia, PA.
Mastered by Patrick Klem, Klemflastic Sound, Durham, NC.


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Jake Xerxes Fussell Durham, North Carolina

"As long as Jake Fussell is making records and playing shows, there is ample cause for optimism in this world." – Bonnie "Prince" Billy

"Jake Xerxes Fussell is a national treasure.” – Aquarium Drunkard

“His burly, winking voice is made for storytelling.” – NPR Music

“Achingly beautiful.” — Uncut
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