My song “Mexicoma” tells the story of a man who goes to Mexico to try and forget a failed relationship. With the help of “Cuervo, salt and lime” and an IV drip of Corona he winds up in a “Mexicoma”.
That’s the story IN the song…this is the story BEHIND the song. What was my inspiration and why did I think Country music superstar Tim McGraw stole my idea? (spoiler alert: he didn’t).
I’ll start this story at the end. The day I met Nashville songwriter James T. Slater and asked where he got the idea for his version of “Mexicoma” that was recorded by McGraw on his album Two Lanes of Freedom.
I had my suspicions. You see roughly a year before McGraw released his version of “Mexicoma” I had written my version of “Mexicoma” (which, by the way, i believe is way better than his. But that’s another story). I began playing the song at writer’s rounds in Nashville (hoping guys like Tim McGraw would hear it and record it). I also sent it off to an evaluation service sponsored by Nashville Songwriters Association International. An anonymous professional songwriter listened to my song and offered a very positive critique, loved the title…even urged me to seek out a publisher (easy for an anonymous professional Nashville songwriter to say…much harder for some anonymous dude in Detroit to do).
I thought that was the end of the story. I couldn’t get the attention of any publishers but audiences loved my song and requested it so I kept playing it. Then one day McGraw drops “Two Lanes of Freedom” including track nine: “Mexicoma”.
I was convinced my “anonymous Nashville songwriter”, who liked my song…especially the title…had run home and written his own version and then, using the secret handshake known only to Nashville professionals, handed it personally to Tim McGraw who couldn’t wait to record it. So I did some investigating (I’m not an investigator but I played one on TV). I Googled “Mexicoma songwriter” and surprisingly my name didn’t come up…James T. Slater’s did.
So I went on a hunt around Nashville for James T. Slater and eventually found him playing a writer’s round. Afterwards I introduced myself and decided not to grab him around the throat and demand he confess to stealing my song (that kind of things earns you a reputation in Nashville). Instead I casually mentioned how much I liked “Mexicoma” and where in the world did he come up with an idea like that.
I expected him to flash some sort of guilty look, or maybe make a break for the door. Instead he said “my girlfriend was watching the “Sex and the City” movie and the character Samantha suggested the girls all go south of the border and spend the weekend in a Mexicoma.” Slater thought that was swell idea for a song and wrote it.
The funny thing is…that’s exactly where I got the idea (yes, I admit it… I watched the Sex and the City movie).
Bottom line: James T. Slater did not steal the idea for Mexicoma from me…we both stole it from Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, which, by the way, we don’t call “stealing” we call it “inspiration”.
I’d like to say this story ends with James and me having a good laugh and skipping off to the bar for a couple drinks where he teaches me the secret Nashville handshake and gives me Tim McGraw’s cellphone number. But that didn’t happen.
He went back to writing hit songs for big-time singers and I went back to writing songs that I hope are good enough for someone to steal.