Western Song: Ballad of the Alamo
The Ballad of the Alamo was written by Russian-born American, Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin. Aside from being a Hollywood film score composer and conductor, he is also one of the most well-known and best-loved music writers. The song was included in the Top 100 Western Songs of all time chosen by the members of the Western Writers of America.
Tiomkin did an excellent job in placing extensive musical scores together with some killer lyrics—and when Marty Robbins recorded The Ballad of the Alamo, it was a sure success. Out of many artists who covered the song, and inspired other songs about the Alamo, the original Robbins’ version recorded in 1960 is exceptional. It became a crossover hit, spent 13 weeks on the pop charts, and ranked high at #34, at one point.
About the Song
This song stands tall among other songs that teach history through music because of its haunting melody combined with unforgettable lyrics. The song tells a story of how Santa Anna called for surrender and Travis “answered with a shell and a rousing Rebel yell.” Santa Anna announces his order as the lyrics of the song goes: Play Degüello,’ he roared; I will show them no quarter; Everyone will be put to the sword!”
Ballad of the Alamo Popular Recordings
The song has been covered by the following artists:
- Frankie Avalon
- Bud And Travis
- R.W. Hampton
- The Fortunes
- Marty Robbins
Listen (Marty Robbins Version)
Ballad of the Alamo Lyrics
In the southern part of Texas In the town of San Antone There's a fortress all in ruins that the weeds have overgrown You may look in vain for crosses and you'll never see a-one But sometimes between the setting and the rising of the sun You can hear a ghostly bugle As the men go marching by You can hear them as they answer To that roll call in the sky. Colonel Travis, Davy Crockett, and a hundred eighty more Captain Dickinson, Jim Bowie Present and accounted for. Back in 1836, Houston said to Travis "Get some volunteers and go Fortify the Alamo." Well the men came from Texas And from old Tennessee And they joined up with Travis Just to fight for the right to be free. Indian scouts with squirrel guns Men with muzzle-loaders Stood together, heel and toe To defend the Alamo. "You may ne'er see your loved ones, " Travis told them that day "Those who want to can leave now Those who fight to the death let 'em stay." In the sand he drew a line With his army sabre Out of a hundred eighty five Not a soldier crossed the line With his banners a-dancin' In the dawn's golden light Santa Anna came prancing On a horse that was black as the night. Sent an officer to tell Travis to surrender Travis answered with a shell And a rousing rebel yell Santa Anna turned scarlet "Play deguello!" he roared "I will show them no quarter Every one will be put to the sword!" One hundred and eighty five Holding back five thousand Five days, six days, eight days, ten Travis held and held again Then he sent for replacements For his wounded and lame But the troops that were coming Never came, never came, never came... Twice he charged and blew recall On the fatal third time Santa Anna breached the wall And he killed 'em, one and all Now the bugles are silent And there's rust on each sword And the small band of soldiers... Lie asleep in the arms of the Lord... In the southern part of Texas Near the town of San Antone Like a statue on his pinto rides a cowboy all alone And he sees the cattle grazing where a century before Santa Anna's guns were blazing and the cannons used to roar And his eyes turn sorta misty And his heart begins to glow And he takes his hat off slowly... To the men of Alamo. To the thirteen days of glory At the siege of Alamo...