Big Iron
Western Music
The Lone Writer  

Western Song: Big Iron

Big Iron is a country ballad song that Marty Robbins wrote and performed. It is one of the Top 100 Western Songs of all time chosen by the members of The Western Writers of America. In April 1960, Robbins’ version of the song reached number 5 on the Billboard Country chart and number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The song tells a story about a Ranger who is a stranger to the town of Agua Fria, challenged the most notorious outlaw, named Texas Red who is a vicious murderer. According to the song, every man that challenged him was killed. Texas Red is only 24 years old but he already killed twenty men. The “Big Iron” on the song refers to the gun on their hips. Despite being infamous, Texas Red was killed by the ranger in one shot. His draw was so swift, that Texas Red had not even “cleared leather.”

In September 1959, the song was originally released as an album track on Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs then in February 1960, it was released as a single with the song “Saddle Tramp” as the B-side single. The best part about the song is that you can describe the story clearly without difficulty. The song is clear and feels like a story you want to keep on re-reading.

Popular Recordings

Various artists covered the song. Some of the popular recordings are made by the following artists:

  • Marty Robbins
  • Johnny Cash
  • Michael Martin Murphey
  • Kingfish
  • Lee Conway
  • Mike Ness
  • Carol Noonan
  • Colter Wall

Big Iron In Albums

The song has been released in different albums as well. Here is the list of albums where the song has been included in the tracklist.

  • Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  • More Greatest Hits
  • Bend in the River
  • The Heart of Marty Robbins
  • All Time Greatest Hits
  • Marty!
  • Streets of Laredo
  • Marty Robbins’ Own Favorites
  • Marty Robbins Gold
  • All Around Cowboy
  • No. 1 Cowboy
  • Marty Robbins
  • A Lifetime of Song
  • Memories in Song
  • The Best Of Marty Robbins
  • The Essential Marty Robbins
  • Marty Robbins Lost and found
  • Marty Robbins Memories in Song
  • Marty Robbins Live Concert Versions Of His Greatest Hits
  • Under Western Skies
  • Marty Robbins Legendary Country Singers
  • Story of My Life: Best of Marty Robbins

Listen (Marty Robbins Version)

Big Iron Lyrics

To the town of Agua Fria rode a stranger one fine day
Hardly spoke to folks around him, didn't have too much to say
No one dared to ask his business, no one dared to make a slip
For the stranger there among them had a big iron on his hip
Big iron on his hip

It was early in the morning when he rode into the town
He came riding from the south side slowly lookin' all around
He's an outlaw loose and running, came the whisper from each lip
And he's here to do some business with the big iron on his hip
Big iron on his hip

In this town there lived an outlaw by the name of Texas Red
Many men had tried to take him and that many men were dead
He was vicious and a killer though a youth of 24
And the notches on his pistol numbered one and 19 more
One and 19 more

Now the stranger started talking, made it plain to folks around
Was an Arizona ranger, wouldn't be too long in town
He came here to take an outlaw back alive or maybe dead
And he said it didn't matter he was after Texas Red
After Texas Red

Wasn't long before the story was relayed to Texas Red
But the outlaw didn't worry men that tried before were dead
20 men had tried to take him, 20 men had made a slip
21 would be the ranger with the big iron on his hip
Big iron on his hip

The morning passed so quickly, it was time for them to meet
It was 20 past 11 when they walked out in the street
Folks were watching from the windows, everybody held their breath
They knew this handsome ranger was about to meet his death
About to meet his death

There was 40 feet between them when they stopped to make their play
And the swiftness of the ranger is still talked about today
Texas Red had not cleared leather 'fore a bullet fairly ripped
And the ranger's aim was deadly with the big iron on his hip
Big iron on his hip

It was over in a moment and the folks had gathered round
There before them lay the body of the outlaw on the ground
Oh, he might have went on living but he made one fatal slip
When he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip
Big iron on his hip
Big iron, big iron
When he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip
Big iron on his hip

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