El Paso – Marty Robbins

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………on January 5th of 1960 Marty Robbins’ Country-Crossover tune “El Paso” tops the Billboard Hot 100. At 4:38 long, Columbia Records had initially refused to issue the song as a single, but did include it on Robbins’ “Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs” LP. The track proved so popular, Columbia changed its mind and the decision paid off when the song topped the Hot 100 in the first week of 1960, marking the first time a song longer than four minutes hit #1 on that tally (it was also a #1 country hit). “El Paso” was over a minute longer than any other #1 on the Hot 100 that year – “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles was the second-longest at 3:37. “El Paso” would go on to win a Grammy Award for Best Country & Western RecordingRobbins wrote this in a car as he and his family were traveling through Texas on the way to Arizona. The song is a Western saga complete with drama, violence, and romance. Country America magazine ranked this #6 on their Top 100 country songs of all time. Robbins went onto further successes, not only as a singer, but also an actor, TV host, NASCAR race driver and writer (he penned a novel, The Small Man). Marty Robbins visited the city again in 1966, when he recorded “Faleena (From El Paso),” which tells the life story of Faleena, the “Mexican girl” from “El Paso”, in a third-person narrative. In 1976 Robbins released another sequel, “El Paso City”, in which he sings of being in an airplane over El Paso. Seeing the city reminds him of a song he had heard “long ago”. He then summarizes the original “El Paso” story. The country saga song reached #19 in the UK.