The title for this blog is a bit of hyperbole, but I think it’s true. El Paso by Marty Robbins has been my favorite song for years. It came up at P&P a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. For those who haven’t heard it, I’m included a YouTube video from the 1970s. I recommend ignoring the white jumpsuits. It’s hard to believe we ever thought they were a good idea.
Here’s El Paso.
And now for some trivia . . .
The song was written by Marty Robbins in almost less time than it takes to sing the 4-1/2 minute long version. He said in an interview that it came to him almost like a movie and he just wrote it down.
The song is unusual in that there’s no chorus and no repeated lyrics.
El Paso was released in September 1959 and went to No. 1. In 1961, it won the Grammy for Best Country and Western Recording.
El Paso appeared on Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs. Today on Amazon, there are 107 review that break down like this: 5 Stars — 100. 4 Stars — 6. 3 Stars — 1. The solo 3-Star reviewer didn’t like the change in the order of the songs on the digitally remastered CD.
The City of El Paso named a park after Marty Robbins.
The song on the flipside of the old 45 was Running Gun.
The Glaser Brothers supplied the harmony, and Grady Martin played the Tex Mex style guitar that gives the song so much character.
Marty Robbins’ real name was Shane Dawson. He was born September 26, 1925. He passed away December 8, 1982 from a heart ailment. He had a twin sister.
And now here are the lyrics that first made me love western romance . . .
El Paso by Marty Robbins
Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa’s cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell.
One night a wild young cowboy came in,
Wild as the West Texas wind.
Dashing and daring,
A drink he was sharing
With wicked Felina,
The girl that I loved.
So in anger I
Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.
Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.
My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;
The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.
Just for a moment I stood there in silence,
Shocked by the FOUL EVIL deed I had done.
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;
I had but one chance and that was to run.
Out through the back door of Rosa’s I ran,
Out where the horses were tied.
I caught a good one.
It looked like it could run.
Up on its back
And away I did ride,
Just as fast as I
Could from the West Texas town of El Paso
Out to the bad-lands of New Mexico.
Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.
Everything’s gone in life; nothing is left.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death.
I saddled up and away I did go,
Riding alone in the dark.
A bullet may find me.
Tonight nothing’s worse than this
Pain in my heart.
And at last here I
Am on the hill overlooking El Paso;
I can see Rosa’s cantina below.
My love is strong and it pushes me onward.
Down off the hill to Felina I go.
Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;
Off to my left ride a dozen or more.
Shouting and shooting I can’t let them catch me.
I have to make it to Rosa’s back door.
Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side.
Though I am trying
To stay in the saddle,
I’m getting weary,
Unable to ride.
But my love for
Felina is strong and I rise where I’ve fallen,
Though I am weary I can’t stop to rest.
I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.
From out of nowhere Felina has found me,
Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.
Cradled by two loving arms that I’ll die for,
One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.