State number 31 for us and one of my all-time favorite places. I went here as a kid and then as a teenager. I’ve been back several times as an adult and I always find something else to fall in love with. The red dirt and blue skies. The hoodoos and rivers and adobe buildings. The intersection of cultures. The art. The food. But here–here–I am just making something for our ears. Enjoy.
Albuquerque: Oof. What a song. What an album. Depressing and strung out, hazy and warped–Young is at once on the bottom and at the height of his powers. The guitar whining and buzzing, the piano jangling, and the warbling lyrics interrupted by the harmonica. It’s perfection from a perfect album. Too bad you can’t get it on Spotify.
El Paso: Yes, the title of this track is Texas, but the lyrics reference New Mexico. I’ll forever remember a Facebook story told by one of my grad school professors. She was a visiting scholar in Japan and they went to a fancy dinner where drinks were flowing. At some point during the dinner, the Japanese hosts sang some of their traditional folk songs, going back and forth, each one more elaborate and longer. Not wanting to be the one at the table unable to contribute, this professor stood up and sang, unaccompanied, a perfect rendition of this song, which culminated in thunderous applause and many cheers. Her lesson to us: know a song of your people.
Santa Fe: Here’s a Dylan deep cut for ya. Unhinged and ragged. Shaggy. I love this simple tune for its undoneness. It makes you feel like you are going someplace that is still unfinished, that there’s something to discover, something to build. In short, it feels like a destination song.