Sunday, September 26, 2010

el paso

martin david robinson 
(september 26, 1925–december 8, 1982)

my father used to listen to a lot of marty robbins' music when i was young. though a lot of the songs sounded the same to me, i distinctly remember 'el paso' for the flavorful spanish guitar and the vivid story of a jealous cowboy's foul evil deed over his love for wicked feleena. the swells in the song are like a swoon conveying the intense emotions of the narrator. it was a number one hit in 1960 and won a grammy a year later. robbins would record two sequels to the song over the years: one from the perspective of feleena (who loves the young cowboy and kills herself after he dies), and another from the perspective of a modern drifter who wonders if he might have been the young cowboy of the original song in another life. listening to this song brings me back to another life as well.

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 feleena would whirl.
blacker than night were the eyes of feleena,
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 feleena,
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 feleena 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 feleena 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 feleena, good-bye.

Faleena (From El Paso)

El Paso City

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