Ultimate Baja Playlist: The 5 Best Songs About Cabo San Lucas
Sammy Hagar may have said it best – “Land’s end, you have to see it/Ain’t no picture ever say it right” – but he’s not the only one to sing the praises of Cabo San Lucas. The pleasures of life at Land’s End have been lauded by a host of famous musicians, including many of the hottest names on the contemporary country scene.
Cabo San Lucas by Toby Keith
Perhaps it was the 2003 duet by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, that proved country music’s compatibility with sultry sea breezes and golden sand beaches. What’s certain is that Cabo San Lucas has been a big beneficiary of this burgeoning subgenre of “permanent vacation” narratives extolling the simple pleasures of life in tropical latitudes. Oklahoma born singer-songwriter Toby Keith is a master of the form, and one of the biggest proponents of the Cabeño lifestyle in recent years. Stays in Mexico was his first nod to the area, but the baritone ballad Cabo San Lucas, off the 2008 album That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy, is undoubtedly his best. The song perfectly captures the feeling of drifting down to the southernmost point of the 800 mile long Baja peninsula (and discovering you don’t ever want to leave): I’m leavin’ you this message and if you give a damn/And you wanna call me you know where I am/In Cabo, Cabo San Lucas/Way down in Mexico, way down in Cabo.
Beer in Mexico by Kenny Chesney
According to the liner notes for his album The Road and the Radio, country music superstar Kenny Chesney wrote Beer in Mexico while vacationing in Cabo, and hanging out with Sammy Hagar during the latter’s annual birthday bash at Cabo Wabo Cantina. The song peaked at 51 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart back in 2007, but has since become a classic of its kind, albeit with a bit of a twist on the standard “permanent vacation” narrative. Rather than being seen as a final destination, Mexico is posited as a sort of sun-soaked limbo: the kind of place where one can escape, regain some much needed perspective, and “Let the warm air melt these blues away.” The narrator, at a crossroads between getting married and settling down, or staying single and free, puts off any ultimate choice with the sensible decision to “Sit right here and have another beer in Mexico.”
A Lot to Learn About Livin’ by Easton Corbin
Easton Corbin likes to point out that the farming community he comes from in Florida is a long way from the swaying palm trees and bikini-filled beaches of Miami. But the popular country singer – his eponymous debut album featured two #1 hits, A Little More Country Than That and Roll With It – definitely understands the allure of scenic seaside getaway destinations: “Taxi driver took my two bags/He saw me lookin’ at my watch/He said, “You won’t need that here/’Cause time disappears/In paradise there ain’t no clocks.” While the above stanza is a semi-poetic summation of Cabo’s timeless appeal, You Got a Lot to Learn About Livin’s chorus suggests a long-time local explaining the area’s laid-back ethos to a recent arrival. “You got a lot to learn about livin’/It’s a different world down here/Our biggest problem’s decidin’ what fish we’re fryin’/Does it go with tequila or beer?”
Stays in Mexico by Toby Keith
Las Vegas gets a lot of publicity for promoting the “what happens here, stays here” philosophy, but such sentiments are taken for granted in Cabo San Lucas. The sea and oceanside playground – with its abundance of lively bars and clubs, and surfeit of romantic luxury resorts – has long been a haven for those who want to shake off their inhibitions, do things they’d never dream of back home. “His name was Steve, her name was Gina/They met at a bar called Cabo Wabo Cantina.” So begins Stays in Mexico, Toby Keith’s paean to whirlwind vacation romances. The song ends with the lovers at the airport, ready to return to their separate lives. But neither will ever forget the time “They walked down to the beach and started drinking again/Jumped into the ocean for a dirty swim/One more margarita they were falling in love/One more is never enough.”
Cabo Wabo by Van Halen
No celebrity is more closely associated with Cabo San Lucas than Sammy Hagar. The former Montrose and Van Halen frontman famously sang of the town’s charms on the latter’s 1988 album OU812 – There’s a sleepy town as south of the border/If you go there once, you’ll be there twice/Lots of pretty girls, coming by the dozens/The white sand sure makes a tan look nice – two years before the band opened up a cantina with the same name as the song: Cabo Wabo. Hagar eventually bought out his erstwhile bandmates, and turned the place into one of the area’s most successful clubs. He still shows up for his annual birthday bashes (this year the concerts were moved to Las Vegas in the wake of Hurricane Odile), and to this day, no one evokes (or embodies) the town’s party hearty atmosphere quite like “The Red Rocker.”
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