Western Song: El Paso
The song was written and originally recorded by Marty Robbins and became a major hit on both the country and pop music charts. At the start of 1960, the song reached no. 1 in both charts. It also won the Grammy Award for the Best Country & Western Recording that same year.
The song got into Marty’s mind whenever he would pass into El Paso while traveling back and forth from Phoenix. He thought that “El Paso” sounded romantic that’s why he promised himself that he’d one day write a song about it.
The song is about a young Anglo gunslinger and “a Mexican girl” named Felina. A love story about forbidden love, jealousy, and the brawl in Rosa’s Cantina that lead to murder.
A lot of artists have covered the song. Some of the most popular versions were recorded by:
- Marty Robbins
- Grateful Dead
- Bob Weir
- The Old 97’s
- Grady Martin
- Western-Trio (mit Lolita) – Das Orchester Johannes Fehring
- H.B. Barnum
- Homer and Jethro
- Blaine L. Reininger
- Max Stalling
- Michael Martin Murphey
- Tom Russell
- The Mills Brothers
- Jason and the Scorchers
Sequel Songs to El Paso
Marty Robbins wrote two sequel songs, one in 1966 and one in 1976.
Feleena (From El Paso) – 1966. The first sequel is an eight-minute song—a story of the girl with who the original narrator was so hopelessly in love, and how she commits suicide with his gun after his dying kiss.
El Paso City – 1976. Robbins released the second sequel song in 1976. Because of his many years of phenomenal success as a singer and writer, Robbins was inspired to continue writing about the city.
Listen (Marty Robbins Version)
El Paso Lyrics
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.