Sammy Hagar 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 musician to sing the praises of Los Cabos. The good life at Land’s End has been celebrated by a lot of famous performers, across a number of different genres. Country music has long had a love affair with the region, for example, highlighted by lyrical shoutouts from big-name stars like Merle Haggard, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith. Country music has established such a loyal local fanbase, in fact, that two different local resorts have hosted country themed concert festivals: Bahia Hotel & Beach House, and Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos.
But make no mistake. It was Hagar and his hard-rocking Van Halen bandmates who put the destination on the musical map back in 1988; and it’s Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina that continues to be the area’s best live music venue.
No need to choose sides, though. Both rock and country songs feature prominently in our inaugural “ultimate Cabo playlist,” as does hip hop, and even holiday music.
We present the Top 5 songs about Los Cabos:
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 Los Cabos has been a big beneficiary of this burgeoning subgenre of “permanent vacation” narratives extolling the simple pleasures of a laid-back life in paradise. 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.”
His daughter Krystal Keith sings it real nice, too.
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, and to this day, no one evokes (or embodies) the town’s party hearty atmosphere quite like “The Red Rocker.” This year, in fact, he was officially named an ambassador for the destination.
Cabo by Bankrol Hayden
Still only 21-years-old, California native Bankrol Hayden is a rising star in the hip hop world. Like any Cali kid, Bankrol knows all about the attractions of a Los Cabos vacation. “Met a shawty down in Cabo and she’s a model/Got a villa by the beach, feel like Pablo.” It should come as no surprise given Bankrol’s youth, but he’s got a fesh perspective on the things that define the Los Cabos lifestyle. This is evidenced by, among other things, his drink of choice. While the country guys sing about drinking beer in Mexico, Bankrol delights in shouting out fine Clase Azul tequila. So far, Bankrol’s “Cabo” has logged nearly 10 million views for his YouTube channel.
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 Los Cabos 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.”
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 Los Cabos. 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 to 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.”
Christmas in Cabo San Lucas by Merle Haggard
Bing Crosby never dreamed of a “White Christmas” in Los Cabos, although the legendary crooner was a frequent visitor to the area. There’s just something about 80 degree weather that makes it hard to get into the seasonal spirit … at least from a songwriting perspective. One man who did make an effort to capture the heated up holiday mood, however, was outlaw country icon Merle Haggard. Rather than rueing the lack of snow, Haggard mined the beachfront scenery for lyrical content in “Christmas in Cabo San Lucas,” one of the more memorable cuts from his 2004 album, I Wish I Was Santa Claus. “There’s tinsel lights on the palm trees/And candy canes stuck in the sand/There’s no snow on the beaches of Baja/and I won’t need gloves on my hands.”
Saludos from Co-Founders…
Chris Sands – Writer and Michael Mattos