Jim Adams prompt this morning relates to Things that remind us of Cinco de Mayo:
The first song that came to mind was “El Paso” which tells the story of a man who falls in love Feleena whom he met in Rosa’s Cantina. It is a tale of jealousy, rage, murder, fear and ultimately death.
El Paso was written and recorded by country legend Marty Robbins in 1959. The song reached #1 on both the country and music charts making it Marty Robbins’ most well known song. Western Writers of America selected it as one of the top 100 Western songs of all time.
That’s the backstory. Marty Robbins wrote two sequels to this song.
In 1966, Robbins wrote Feleena (from El Paso) that tells the story of the “Mexican girl” in the song “El Paso”. In this narrative song, Feleena is born during a thunderstorm in New Mexico. She eventually flees her home for Santa Fe then moves on to the bigger city of El Paso and works as a paid dancer is a cantina. The song is long, 8 minutes in length, and retells the story, although slightly altered of the man she fell in love with who ultimately kills a man out of jealousy. When he returns to El Paso, he is shot and dies in her arms. Feleena takes her own life with his gun, and their ghosts are said to be heard in the night winds.
The cowboy she fell in love with was different than all the other men she had met, however flirting was just a part of the beautiful Feleena’s nature.
The second sequel song written in 1976 is “El Paso City” which also made it to #1 on the country charts. This song recalls the song “El Paso” and the singer wonders if he could have been the character in the original song. When I listened to this song, I was surprised it was familiar to me. I guess I never paid close attention to understand what the song was about.
Additional Notes: El Paso became a regular song performed as part of the Grateful Dead’s set. According to Wikipedia, they performed the song 389 times. The song El Paso is also featured in the finale of “Breaking Bad”, the episode entitled “Felina”. My mother was a huge fan of Marty Robbins. Listening to these songs has been rather nostalgic for me today.
I am including only the lyrics for Feleena, but I will include several videos of the other songs.
Lyrics from cowboylyrics.com
Out in New Mexico, many long years ago
There in a shack on the desert, one night in a storm
Amid streaks of lightnin’ and loud desert thunder
To a young Mexican couple, a baby was born;
Just as the baby cried, thunder and lightnin’ died
Moon gave it’s light to the world and the stars did the same
Mother and Father, both proud of the daughter
That heaven had sent them, Feleena was this baby’s name.
When she was seventeen, bothered by crazy dreams
She ran away from the shack and left them to roam
Father and Mother, both asked one another
What made her run away, what made Feleena leave home;
Tired of the desert nights, fartherly grieved to strife
She ran away late one night in the moon’s golden gleam
She didn’t know where she’d go, but she’d get there
And she would find happiness, if she would follow her dream.
After she ran away, she went to Sante Fe
And in the year that she stayed there, she learned about life
In just a little while, she learned that with a smile
She could have pretty clothes, she could be any man’s wife;
Rich men romanced her, they dined and they danced her
She understood men and she treated them all just the same
A form that was fine and rare, dark shining glossy hair
Lovely to look at Feleena was this woman’s name.
Restless in Sante Fe, she had to get away
To any town where the lights had a much brighter glow
One cowboy mentioned the town of El Paso
They never stopped dancin’ and money like whiskey did flow;
She bought a one-way, a ticket from Sante Fe
Three days and nights on a stage with a rest now and then
She didn’t mind that, she knew she would find that
Her new life would be more exciting than where she had been.
The stage made it’s last stop, up there on the mountain top
To let her see all of the lights at the foot of the hill
Her world was brighter and deep down inside her
An uncontrolled beating, her young heart just wouldn’t be still;
She got a hotel, a room at the Lily Belle
Quickly she changed to a form-fitting black satin dress
Ev’ry man stopped to stare, at this form fine and rare
Even the women remarked of the charm she possessed.
Dancin’ and laughter, was what she was after
And Rosa’s Cantina had lights, with love in the gleam
That’s what she hunted and that’s what she wanted
Rosa’s was one place, a nice girl would never be seen;
It was the same way, it was back in Sante Fe
Men would make fools of themselves at the thought of romance
Rosa took heed of, the place was in need of
This kind of excitement, so she paid Feleena to dance.
A year passed and maybe more and then through the swingin’ doors
Came a young cowboy so tall and so handsomely dressed
This one was new in town, hadn’t been seen around
He was so different, he wasn’t like all of the rest;
Feleena danced close to him, then threw a rose to him
Quickly he walked to her table and there he sat down
And in a day or so, wherever folks would go
They’d see this young cowboy, showin’ Feelena the town.
Six weeks he went with her, each minute spent with her
But he was insanely jealous of glances she’d give
Inside he was a-hurtin’, from all of her flirtin’
That was her nature and that was the way that she lived;
She flirted one night, it started a gun-fight
And after the smoke cleared away, on the floor lay a man
Feleena’s young lover, had shot down another
And he had to leave there, so out through the back door he ran.
The next day at five o’clock, she heard a rifle shot
Quickly she ran to the door, that was facin’ the pass
She saw her cowboy, her wild-ridin’ cowboy
Low in the saddle, her cowboy was ridin’ in fast;
She ran to meet him, to kiss and to greet him
He saw her and motioned her back, with a wave of his hand
Bullets were flyin’, Feleena was cryin’
As she saw him fall from the saddle and into the sand.
Feleena knelt near him, to hold and to hear him
When she felt the warm blood that flowed from the wound in his side
He raised to kiss her and she heard him whisper
“Never forget me – Faleena it’s over, goodbye.”
Quickly she grabbed for, the six-gun that he wore
And screamin’ in anger and placin’ the gun to her breast
Bury us both deep and maybe we’ll find peace
And pullin’ the trigger, she fell ‘cross the dead cowboy’s chest.
Out in El Paso, whenever the wind blows
If you listen closely at night, you’ll hear in the wind
A woman is cryin’, it’s not the wind sighin’
Old timer’s tell you, Feleena is callin’ for him;
You’ll hear them talkin’ and you’ll hear them walkin’
You’ll hear them laugh and you’ll look, but there’s no one around
Don’t be alarmed – there is really no harm there
It’s only the young cowboy, showin’ Feleena the town.