EL PASO

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • EL PASO
    “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 Tompall and the Glaser Brothers and the eloquent
    Spanish guitar accompaniment by Grady Martin that lends the recording a distinctive
    Tex-Mex feel.
    El Paso” was covered most famously by The Grateful Dead. They started performing the
    song in 1969. When performed, it was sung by rhythm guitarist Bob Weir with Jerry
    Garcia contributing harmony vocals on the chorus. The last time they performed the song
    as The Grateful Dead was on July 5, 1995, 4 days prior to their final show. On the album
    “Ladies and Gentlemen… The Grateful Dead” Bob Weir introduces the song as the Dead’s
    “most requested number.” In all, they performed it 386 times.
    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.
    Maybe tomorrow
    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.