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As I lay sick and broken
Viva mexico
My eyes just won't stay open
And I dream a dream of home
I dream a dream of home

Where there's coffee on the table
And kindness in your hand
Honey I'll help you when I'm able
But right now I'm feeling bad
Right now I'm feeling bad

Listen to your heart that beats
And follow it with both your feet
And as you walk and as you breathe
You ain't no friend to me
You ain't no friend to me

The road to ensenada
Is plenty wide and fast
If you head south from tijuana
Then I'll see you at last
I'll see you at last

But my eyes they open slowly
And they look around the room
The old man he seems worried
And there ain't no sign of you
There ain't no sign of you

Listen to your heart that beats
And follow it with both your feet
And as you walk and as you breathe
You ain't no friend of me
You ain't no friend of me

You can offer to the righteous
The good that you have won
But down here among the unclean
Your good work just comes undone
Your good work just comes undone

The sisters at the borderline
They're holding out their hands
They're begging me for something lord
But I don't understand
I don't understand

So it's adios to alvero
Tell him to stay between the lines
And if he sees that gabriella girl
Tell her I'll look her up next time
Say I'll look her up next time

Because the road to ensenada
Is plenty wide and fast
And this time through tijuana
Well it won't be my last
It won't be my last

Listen to your heart that beats
And follow it with both your feet
And as you walk and as you breathe
You ain't no friend of me
You ain't no friend of me
You ain't no friend of me

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  • y
    yngbld70May 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm
    The narrative is pretty easy to get. A guy gets sick far from home, dreams of someone he knew and loved, and revives far from home, and far from the object of his dream. But there's more here.
    The juxtaposition of sickness and health--viva mexico against sick and broken--is easy enough. But why sick in the dream world as well (right now I'm feeling bad)? The road to ensenada being wide and fast is an old Christian idea. It's the road to the underworld, paved with good intentions (all your good just comes undone). Alvero needing to stay between the lines is a high-road kind of idea, and we get the feeling Alvero doesn't quite belong in the underworld.
    There's a Dante-esque idea floating around here. The sisters at the borderland read at first as nuns or beggars, a pure western feint, but they're easily the gorgon sisters as well. The image increases the tension between Dante in the Divine comedy and the narrator here.
    "Turn thyself round, and keep thine eyes close shut,
    For if the Gorgon appear, and thou shouldst see it,
    No more returning upward would there be. "
    Gabriella sounds, to my ear, anyway, more Italian than Mexican--it could be either. Tijuana is typically portrayed as a sinful place for bandits and exiles, but it's name is rumored to have come from a woman, "aunt Jane," who helped weary travelers. Again, the idea of the escort and of the alien traveler.
    But, in good country form, Lovett does Dante one better, as his narrator promises to return. Moreover, he knows the way out himself, and doesn't need some beatrix to show him the exit. This is somebody who's comfortable in the underworld, more like Hades than Dante. And, like Hades, his pretty sure he won't last long above ground.
    At its heart, this is a poem about a person who refuses to act right. The famous inscription leading into hell was, after all, "abandon all hope ye that enter here." And it makes sense that someone succumbing to the temptation beyond the borderland--the sickness, the contempt for life (as you breathe / you ain't no friend to me), the disdain of love--should abandon their hope. But there's no such thing here. The protagonist is leaving now, and has come to grips with his inevitable return.
    That move, from sin to righteousness and someday back to sin, is country defined. Imagine Johnny Cash waltzing through the eighth bolgia, both better than and no better than the pimps and panderers.
  • U
    UnregisteredOct 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm
    Heroin addiction, divorce or aids? It is a hauntingly beautify song. Lovett is such a remarkable phenomenon. The “ ain’ t no friend to me makes me think it is either a drug or a drug treatment, or possibly a reference to a painful divorce and running away to mexico. All of these are wild guesses; because as a fan of lovett, I know he is not prone to just stinging words together; but always seeks to make a larger often subtle point. Maddening, thanks lyle lol! Great album and song no matter.

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