Some people feel and taste colors. Other people associate feelings with sounds. Me? Well, I drink in music. In this blog series, I pour myself a glass and pair 10 sips to 10 songs. Today, I’m drinking tequila and it tastes like cowbells, bass lines and horns.
Like Bordeaux is to wine, Jalisco is to tequila. And just like grapes in northern France, the blue agave plant flourishes in central Mexico – Tequila, Mexico to be more specific. The city’s fields are protected by both Mexican law and the United Nations (as a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
As it should be.
I mean, can you imagine a world without tequila? How else would office parties get out of control? With brandy? I think not. What would spring breakers shoot before their beer chaser? Rum? That’s not going to make them fall off their bar stool and hit the floor so hard they lose their front teeth.
I will never forget (to try to remember) my first experience with tequila. I laughed, I danced, I kissed several unsuspecting bar patrons, and I vomited. It was the first time an alcoholic beverage made me hurl. And not just your run-of-the-mill barfing, I mean I was having tyrannosaurus mouth explosions.
“Did I eat the worm?” I mused between hacks.
I later learned that there was no such thing as a worm. And that there was no such thing as prize for best skinny dipper. More unfortunate realizations came the following morning, all while experiencing a hangover for the first time as well.
Although tequila holds a special place in my heart (and liver), I know never to have more than 2 shots of Patrón or two Sauza frozen margaritas, or else I will be in the regret red zone for quite some time.
For this reason (and because I was not in the mood to visit the urgent care) I did not drink 10 shots of 1800 for this blog post. Instead, I did the responsible thing and drank two Jose Cuervo tequila sunrises for a total of 10 sips. Oh, and in true tequila tradition, I almost forgot the whole purpose of doing it, which was to find the perfect 10 songs to match the whole experience.
I can’t think of another drink more revered in music. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of songs about tequila in multiple languages and genres and I must have listened to the majority of them. Yet, none of them sound like what tequila tastes like to me. You see, I feel like this little monster of a drink is like an explosion of funk in my mouth, replete with an eight-piece brass band and Will Ferrell violently banging on a cowbell. So get ready, I’ve paired 10 sips to 10 songs that will cause you to move, shake and drop with as much style and grace as Pee Wee Herman in platform shoes.
Sip 1 – Scream for Daddy by Quasamodo
A tequila sunrise, for those that don’t know, is a glass of goodness made with orange juice, grenadine and tequila, perfect for an early brunch with my sailor friend who only had a few hours before shipping off again. Through the straw, I filled my mouth, that was still fresh from the morning’s tooth-brushing. The rush of flavors exploded into my palate like the schizophrenic cowbell that kicks off this song. I tasted the tequila, (how could I not, it was Jose Cuervo Gold), which brought a sly smile to my face, just like these naughty lyrics.
Sip 2 – Got to Give it Up by Marvin Gaye
I found my groove by the second sip. It was so smooth, so well balanced, like Marvin’s falsetto: “Now I’ve got myself together, baby/And I’m havin’ a ball.”
This next sip induced a false sense of security, because I was no longer able to taste the tequila. A part of me was saddened at the apparent lack of potency in the drink, but the other more responsible part, was relieved that I was going to come out of this brunch unscathed by tequila. Like the clean beat and controlled improvisation of the saxophone, it was in this sweet sip that I became confident that I was going to keep it together.
Sip 4 – Hustler by Willie Colon
Like a trombone blast, I began my telling an elaborate story at the fourth sip. The same way Willie Colon masterfully brings you deeper and deeper into the song with a haunting combination of notes, I too began my storytelling journey only to totally lose the point. All of the improvisation that happens in the middle of the song sounded like my friend and I retracing our conversational steps and creating complicated tangents along the way. Finally, when we thought there was no recovery, it all came back to me for a grand finale.
Sip 5 – Sexy M.F. by Prince
The fifth sip came with an unsettling slurping sound when I reached the bottom of my glass. Like that tenor sax creeping up behind the horn section, I was annoyed and confused. Luckily the waitress noticed (or maybe heard, it was pretty loud) and asked me if I wanted another. To which I responded by handing her my glass and secretly wishing I could scream, “You sexy motherfuckah!”
Sip 6 – Run Fay Run by Isaac Hayes
A fresh tequila sunrise made its way to my side of the table. Before my sixth sip, I took a moment to analyze it. I found that it looked darker than my first one. I told myself that it was because it had more grenadine and quickly lifted it for a toast. The cabasa in the opening seconds of Run Fay Fun matched the way I wanted to suck my tongue dry of the tangy-sweet flavor. Once that sip ran its course through my mouth, the sweeping horns kicked in and so did the tequila.
Sip 7 – 928 Horn Jam by Trombone Shorty
The seventh sip was one of jubilation. Hilarity ensued. Hysterical laughter escalated just like this horn jam by the masterful Trombone Shorty.
And then the tequila dropped on me like The Gap Band’s bass drum. Pew, pew, pew.
Sip 9 – Love Gun by Rick James
Hopped up on sugar and tequila and vitamin C, I was a little shiny and a lot hyper, which is a feeling that could only be conveyed by the one and only Rick James. The bass line in Love Gun vibrates just as much as I did that morning.
Sip 10 – Slippery When Wet by the Commodores
The tenth sip came and went, but the oh-so-good feeling stayed. With the taste still fresh in my mouth, the waitress asked if I wanted another, I pointed at her with both fingers and said, “I’m good,” and for the rest of the morning and afternoon I elongated every word just like the yowling vocals of Walter Orange, “Looooove gets slipperaaah when it’s weeeaht.”
Below is a full list of the 10 songs for my 10 sips: