When Marty Robbins released “El Paso” in 1959 off his album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, it quickly became a major hit – not only on the country music charts – but also on the pop charts.
The song reached No. 1 both on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart as well as Billboard Hot 100. What’s even more remarkable is that it won Best Country & Western Recording during the 1961 Grammy Awards.
Over six decades later, “El Paso” is widely considered a genre classic and one of the best-known Marty Robbins songs ever. In fact, members of the Western Writers of America picked “El Paso” as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
The Story Behind The Song
While passing through El Paso, Texas – several times during his tours – Marty Robbins would often drop by and take some time to get to learn more about its people and history. Robbins then quickly fell in love with the city’s culture, more particularly the blend of American and Mexican roots that gave the area such a distinctive atmosphere.
So, it was no longer surprising that he placed the Texas border city at the center of this bloody romance worthy of Western songwriting.
“El Paso” tells the tale of a cowboy’s unrequited love for a Mexican temptress – whose name was Feleena – and the price he has to pay for killing her barroom suitor. Though he has successfully run away from his crime, his yearning for Feleena drives him to return to El Paso, unmindful of his own life. This led to his ultimate demise in the arms of Feleena.
Make sure to listen to “El Paso” by Marty Robbins in the video below.