Out In The West Texas Town

Grift’s post about Max Blumenthal’s culturally tone-deaf and presumptive idiocy inspired me to write a much too long comment about Toby Keith.

That much too long comment then reminded me of Marty Robbins and the awesome power of his signature song. I have to say, it is always good when your train of thought can start at “Beer For My Horses” and end with a song like “El Paso.” I can’t explain it, but “El Paso” rarely fails to send a subtle chill down my spine. It’s a story song, the kind of thing that went away when Tom T. Hall retired. But more specifically, it’s a murder ballad. A damned good one.

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.

Get that? The girl that he loved. Earlier, he admits that his love is one-sided. He’s just an admirer. Never-the-less, he calls the man out and plugs him before the fellow can even reach his pistol. Didn’t even bother to take the affair outside!

And the whole story is told in a gorgeous three-part harmony that occasionally dips and slurs like a drunken ranch hand … or like a dying gunslinger.

I’ll be humming “El Paso” for the rest of the afternoon. To see why, give these videos a look and listen, one from either end of Marty Robbin’s too short career.

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