On Mexico City Blues (12th Chorus)

Allen Ginsberg on Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues continues from here

12th Chorus

Indian songs in Mexico
(the Folk Chanties of Children
at dusk jumprope –
at Saturday Night power failure-)
are like the little French Canuckian
songs my mother sings –
Indian Roundelays –
Row Canoe –
Ma ta wacka
Johnny Picotee


Para ya
Aztec squeaks


AG: It’s the little Aztec squeaks of children.  He’s imitating the Aztec sounds or little Mexican sounds, comparing them to.. . I guess, since in those days to be in Mexico listening to Mexican kids with their own language sounded very un-American or alien, and he was suddenly realizing it was the same sounds he made as a Canuck kid in Lowell.  So it was a provincial American sound, too.  Indian roundelays, like “Row, row, row, your boat/gently down the (stream)” – that “Row Canoe.”  And then the little towns – “Ma ta wacka/Johnny Picotee/Wish-tee/Wish-tee/   Negwayable/ Tamayara/ Para ya/ Aztec squeaks./(ONLY THE MOTHERS ARE HAPPY)

And “ONLY THE MOTHERS ARE HAPPY” is in large case caps in a parentheses.  I guess he thought the little kids are like Jack as a little kid pained – pained and scared of life and
“(ONLY THE MOTHERS ARE HAPPY)” – so the little kids playing and making Aztec squeaks.

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately nineteen minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-four minutes in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *