I’d be hard pressed to come up with a song that has a greater disparity between its dreadfully dour lyrics and the unmitigated joy of its music than this one. While singer and bandleader Raul Malo¹ is crooning the oft-repeated depressing title line, he’s also leading his band through one of the happiest, smile-inducing tunes imaginable. You can go try making a chorus like “All you ever do is bring me down / Making me a fool all over town / They all wonder why I wear a frown / That’s cause honey all you ever do is bring me down” into an exuberant, liberating, twist-dancing, show-climaxing number, but The Mavericks have already perfected it.
In my mind The Mavericks have perfected just about everything and every type of music they’ve ever touched – Tejano, neo-traditional Country, Americana, Latin, Rockabilly, Western Swing, etc. – and become one of the world’s greatest, most thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining bands I know. If Disney is “The Happiest Place On Earth,” The Mavericks have got to be earth’s happiest band. I don’t think it’s possible not to like them. In fact, I won’t permit it. To paraphrase Otter’s infamous “Animal House” courtroom speech,² you can say what you want about any other bands, but I’m not gonna sit here and let you bad-mouth the goddamn Mavericks!
Originating in 1989 in Miami, FL., The Mavericks recorded 6 incredible albums between 1991 and 2003 – one more jubilant and engaging than the next, and including 1995’s “Music For All Occasions,” on which the featured song, ‘All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down’, their highest-peaking American single, appears. The band split up for 8 years between 2004 and 2012 – time enough for lead singer Malo to record another 6 outstanding solo records – but then unpredictably re-formed and rewarded fans with the triumphant 2013 album, “In Time,” which despite their amazingly high standard and lengthy hiatus, somehow still managed to elevate their magnificent musical and emotional output. Non-stop concert and festival touring has followed, as have additional studio albums in 2015 (“Mono”), 2017 (“Brand New Day”), and in 2018 an album of all-original Christmas tunes, the unsurprisingly festive “Hey! Merry Christmas!”. It’s been a Joy-To-The-World kind of time these last 5 years, with their improbable return, rebirth, and rejuvenation (and I thought they were plenty ‘juvenated’ before).
So, enjoy this video (the clip is taken from a 2004 concert DVD, “The Mavericks – Live in Austin, Texas”); I pretty much challenge you not to like it. And be forewarned that just when you think the song seems like its cycled around enough and is moving towards a close, Malo (at 3:40) gives us a “2-3-4!!” shout and sends it into another gleeful gear – with a row of horn section solos going from trumpet to trombone to saxophone and another trumpet, before his cry of “Everybody now!!” (at 4:33) kicks the band into full-scale Dixieland-like delirium, as if there were a Bourbon Street in Tijuana. One more “2-3-4!!” count follows, until the giddy band zooms to a cha-cha-cha ending, and a euphoric Texan crowd erupts. Just another joyous time dancing the night away with the music world’s happiest band. The Mavericks: All they ever do is bring me up.
¹I love that his name translates to Ralph Bad
²Pre-law, pre-med..what’s the difference?