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El Paso - Marty Robbins (Seq. Gary Rogers)(Revised)

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  • Gary Rogers
    El Paso Words and Music by: Marty Robbins Recorded by: Marty Robbins (1959) El Paso is a country and western ballad written and originally recorded by Marty
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2012
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      El Paso
      Words and Music by:
      Marty Robbins
      Recorded by:
      Marty Robbins (1959)
      "El Paso" is a country and western ballad written and originally recorded by Marty Robbins, and first released on Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs in September 1959.
      It was released as a single the following month, and became a major hit on both the country and pop music charts, reaching number one in both at the start of 1960. It won the
      Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording in 1961, and remains Robbins' best-known song. It is widely considered a genre classic for its gripping narrative, haunting
      harmonies by vocalists Bobby Sykes and Jim Glaser (of the Glaser Brothers) and the eloquent Spanish guitar accompaniment by Grady Martin that lends the recording a distinctive
      Tex-Mex feel.

      The song

      "El Paso" was, at some four minutes and thirty-eight seconds in duration, far longer than most contemporary singles at the time. Robbins' record company was unsure if radio stations would

      play such a long song, and so released two versions of the song: the full-length version on one side, and an edited version on the other which was nearer to the three-minute mark. The full-length

      version was overwhelmingly preferred.

      "Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl..."

      The song is a first-person narrative told by a cowboy who is in El Paso, Texas, in the days of the Wild West. He falls in love with Feleena, who is dancing at "Rosa's Cantina". When another

      man makes advances on "wicked Feleena", the narrator guns down the challenger, then flees El Paso for fear of being hanged for murder or killed in revenge by his victim's friends. He hides out

      in the "badlands of New Mexico".

      The narrator switches from the past tense to the present tense for the remainder of the song, describing the yearning that drives him to return to El Paso: "It's been so long since I've seen the young

      maiden / My love is stronger than my fear of death". Upon entering the town, he is attacked and fatally wounded by a posse. At the end of the song, the cowboy is found by Feleena, and he dies in

      her arms.

      Six years later, Robbins wrote a sequel to "El Paso", telling the story from Feleena's point of view. This song confirmed that the cowboy does indeed die in Feleena's arms.

      Chart performance

      Chart (1959)Peak
      U.S. Billboard Hot C&W Sides1
      U.S. Billboard Hot 1001


      El Paso has become extremely popular in the American West with many crediting Robbins with capturing the spirit of the West.[citation needed] In the late 1980s "El Paso" became known as the Official

      Fight song of the University of Texas at El Paso Miners.

      Other versions

      "El Paso" was frequently covered by the Grateful Dead in concert. The song entered the band's repertoire in 1969, and remained there until the band's demise in 1995; in total, it was performed 389 times.

      It was sung by rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, with Jerry Garcia contributing harmony vocals. On the album Ladies and Gentlemen... The Grateful Dead, Bob Weir introduces the song as the Dead's "most

      requested number." It was also recorded by The Mills Brothers.

      The alternative country band Old 97's have also covered this song, with it appearing on their album Hit by a Train: The Best of Old 97's. In addition, it has been covered by Jason and the Scorchers.

      A parody version, "El Pizza" by H. B. Barnum, was a radio hit in 1960. It moved the action to Azusa, California, where Rosa's Cantina became a pizza place where Feleena worked as a waitress.

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