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Banjo Friday 2

Here's another great song for the banjoist, "The Mexican Cowboy," aka "The Hills of Mexico." Like all great folk songs, you can find it in all kinds of iterations, each new singer adapting the lyrics to suit the local audience. It probably started as an English sea ballad, called "Canada I O."

The story is always the same: An unemployed young man is approached by a shady recruiter and promised riches if he'll sign a contract and head far away to do some easy work for a spell. The work changes according to the singer. In Maine, it's lumbering in the forests of Canada ("Canada I-O"). In Ontario, it's lumbering in Michigan ("Michigan I-O"). In Texas, it's skinning buffaloes ("The Buffalo Skinners"). In the song below, it's working as a cowboy in Mexico. Each song usually ends with the singer warning the listeners not to follow his example because the work was back-breaking and the pay not what was promised.

There are also interesting versions of this song by Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, but I really enjoy Willie Watson's energetic performance above.

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