El Paso

Lyrics: Marty Robbins
Music: Marty Robbins

Played by Bob Weir with the Dead regularly from 1970. He also played it a couple of times with Kingfish in the mid 70s, as well as more recently with Ratdog and Weir/Wasserman.

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl
Night time would find me in Rosa's cantina (note 1)
Music would play and Felina would whirl

Black as the night were the eyes of Felina
Wicked and evil while casting a spell
My love is strong for this Mexican maiden
I was in love, but in vain I could tell

One night a wild young cowboy came in
Wild as the West Texas wind
Dashing and daring, and drink he was sharing
With wicked Felina the girl that I love

So in anger
I challenged his right for the love of this maiden
He dived with his hand for the gun that he wore
My challenge was answered in less than a heartbeat
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

Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran
Out where the horses were tied
I picked a good one, he looked like he could run
Jumped on his back and away I did ride
Just as fast as I could

From the West Texas town of El Paso
Up through the badlands of New Mexico

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless
Everything's gone, in life nothing is left
It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death

I saddled up and away I did go
Riding alone in the dark
Maybe tomorrow a bullet may find me
Tonight nothing's worse than this pain in my heart

And at last here I am on the hill overlooking El Paso
I can see Rosa's cantina below
My love is strong and it pushes me onwards
Down off the hill to Felina I go

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys
Off to my left ride a dozen or more
Shoutin' and shootin', I can't let them catch me
I've got to make it to Rosa's back door

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side
It's getting harder to stay in the saddle
I'm getting weary, unable to ride

But my love for Felina is strong and I rise where I've fallen
And though I am weary I can't stop to rest (note 2)
I see the white puff of smoke from their rifles
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest

From out of nowhere, Felina has found me
Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side
Cradled by two lovin' arms that I'll die for (note 3)
One little kiss and Felina goodbye
(1) I originally thought it was "Rosie's cantina" not "Rosa's." But Henry Brier pointed out to me that "Rosa's" was much more likely for West Texas, and various Marty Robbins sites indicate that is the correct version. I've also seen "Rose's" on some lyric sites.
(2) in the version on "Ladies and Gentlemen ... the Grateful Dead", Bob Weir forgets this line and repeats "My love is stronger than my fear of death" instead.
(3) Marty Weinberg has an account in an interview in "The Deadhead's Taping Adendum" of the time when he corrected Bob Weir on the lyrics for this line:
"It wasn't until I saw Bobby at the Felt Forum that I finally got to him and told him he was singing the song wrong. All those years he sang the wrong words. He didn't know, he never listened. I knew the song pretty well, the original Marty Robbins version, but he just didn't listen. ... At the very end of the song he was singing 'Greater my true love in arms that I'll die for.' And that's not the words. The words are 'Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for.'

[Bobby said] 'Man, thanks a lot. You're right.' And there he sang it right at the Forum. He waved at me [as if to say] 'Yeah right, I finally got it right.'"
Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     28 Apr 1971 Ladies And Gentlemen ... The Grateful Dead
     26 Oct 1971 Download Series Vol 3
     28 Mar 1972 Dick's Picks Vol 30
      7 Aug 1971 Dick's Picks Vol 35
     15 Nov 1971 Road Trips Number 3, Volume 2
     17 Nov 1971 Dave's Picks Volume 26
      7 Dec 1971 Dave's Picks Volume 22
     14 Dec 1971 Dave's Picks Volume 26
     26 Mar 1972 Dave's Picks Vol 14
      7 Apr 1972 Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72 (note 4)
     24 Apr 1972 Rockin' The Rhein (note 4)
     26 Apr 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
      4 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     10 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     11 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     18 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     25 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     26 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     25 Aug 1972 Dave's Picks Volume 24
     27 Aug 1972 Sunshine Daydream (CD and DVD)
     17 Sep 1972 Dick's Picks Vol 23
     21 Sep 1972 Dick's Picks Vol 36
     24 Sep 1972 30 Trips Around The Sun
     27 Sep 1972 Dick's Picks Vol 11
     17 Nov 1972 Dave's Picks Volume 11
     28 Feb 1973 Dick's Picks Vol 28
     24 Mar 1973 Dave's Picks Volume 32
     28 Mar 1973 Dave's Picks Volume 16
      2 Apr 1973 Dave's Picks Volume 21
     22 Jun 1973 Pacific Northwest '73-'74
     24 Jun 1973 Pacific Northwest '73-'74
     26 Jun 1973 Pacific Northwest '73-'74
     19 Oct 1973 Dick's Picks Vol 19
     10 Nov 1973 Winterland 1973 - The Complete Recordings
     11 Nov 1973 Winterland 1973 - The Complete Recordings
     14 Nov 1973 30 Trips Around The Sun
     17 Nov 1973 Dave's Picks Volume 5
     21 Nov 1973 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 3
     24 Feb 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 13
     14 May 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 9
     19 May 1974 Pacific Northwest '73-'74
     21 May 1974 Pacific Northwest '73-'74
     23 Jun 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 34
     19 Jul 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 17
     31 Jul 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 2
     19 Oct 1974 Steal Your Face
      3 Oct 1976 30 Trips Around The Sun
     10 Oct 1976 Dick's Picks Vol 33
      5 May 1977 May 1977: Get Shown The Light Box
      8 May 1977 May 1977: Get Shown The Light Box
     11 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     13 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     17 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     19 May 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 29
      7 Jun 1977 Winterland June 1977 - The Complete Recordings
     14 Oct 1977 Road Trips Volume 1, Number 2
     29 Oct 1977 Dave's Picks Vol 33
     22 Jan 1978 Dave's Picks Volume 23
      8 Jul 1978 July 1978: The Complete Recordings
     16 Sep 1978 Rocking The Cradle: Egypt 1978 (bonus disc)
      5 Nov 1979 Road Trips Full Show: Spectrum 11/5/79
      3 Dec 1979 Dave's Picks Vol 31
     13 Oct 1980 Reckoning (note 5)
     31 Jul 1982 30 Trips Around The Sun
      3 Apr 1989 Download Series Vol 9
Other Dead-related Recordings
     Date Album Artist
     1993 A Historical Retrospective Solar Circus
     2008 Ithica 30 Years Later Dark Star Orchestra
     2019 Sabertooth Plays Dead Sabertooth

(4) also on the box set Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
(5) issued as a bonus track in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)

The original Marty Robbins recording is widely available and is included on the compilation "Roots Of The Grateful Dead"

Further Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com


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