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"Hills of Mexico" is technically a cover song, but it's not a song I'm familiar with at all, so I'm just going to focus on this version. Jake Xerxes Russell has one of those truly unique takes on modern folk music. Something about his version of "Hills of Mexico" feels like an ancient song (even without knowing it's a cover), but his take on it is completely modern and unique. Somehow he takes songs like this and makes them sound like the classic standards they are while sounding entirely like a Jake Xerxes Fussell song from today. It also sounds like a traditional folk song, but through an odd Elephant 6 filter. It's this joining of the traditional and (for lack of a better term) freak folk that makes this version of "Hills of Mexico" unique.
On a post on his website, Jake Xerxes Fussell explains the story of the song and his version:
"'Hills of Mexico' is from a family of narrative ballads in which the singer-narrator is approached by a stranger in transit with a business proposition that turns out to be not so great for singer-narrator. Many of the European ballads of this kind deal with highwaymen & their exploits. In this instance the proposition entails going to Mexico to work the cattle drive. My version borrows heavily from Roscoe Holcomb’s, which is mysterious in that it omits the Mexico chapter itself almost entirely."