Marty Robbins - El Paso on Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs (1960)

Marty Robbins - El Paso on Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs (1960)
Reconsidering such a Latin (and more specifically mariachi) tinge in country music helps to understand why the 1959 song "El Paso" by Marty Robbins became such a huge hit for Robbins as well as a significant part of country music's history. Released in 1959, "El Paso" was the first song to rule the pop charts as the 1960s were ushered in, and propelled Marty Robbins to critical acclaim (e.g., a Grammy Award) and major commercial success. In fact, Marty Robbins was so successful with "El Paso" that it eventually spawned two popular sequel songs, "Faleena" and "El Paso City", more Grammy Awards for Robbins and other accolades, and eventually helped Robbins get elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. 



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Of course, of relevance for this analysis, "El Paso" was a Mexican corrido translated into English, and beyond the obvious outlaw/gunfighter narrative that puts it squarely within Mexican corrido tradition, the vocalizations by Marty Robbins left no doubt that he was mimicking Mexico's ranchera (or mariachi) singing style. Nonetheless, "El Paso" was so significant that it eventually resurfaced in rock music as a cover by the Grateful Dead and others.

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