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El Paso
by Marty Robbins

Out in the West Texas
         town of El Paso
I fell in love
         with a Mexican girl.
Nighttime would find me
         in Rose's Cantina,
Music would play and
         Felina would whirl.

Blacker than night
         were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil
         while casting a spell.
My love was 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,
         a drink he was sharing,
With wicked Felina,
         the girl that I love.
So in an - ger

I challenged his right
         for the love of this maiden;
Down went 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 ran through
         my mind as I stood there;
I had but one chance
         and that was to run.

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

I could from the West Texas
         town of El Paso,
Out thru the badlands
         of New Mexico.
Back in El Paso
         my life would be worthless;
Everything's gone
         in life nothing is left.

But 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 as last here

I am on the hill
         overlooking El Paso,
I can see Rose's
         Cantina below.
My love is strong
         and it pushes me onward,
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.
Shouting and shooting;
         I can't let them catch me,
I've got to make it
         to Rose'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;
Though I am weary,
         I can't stop to rest.
I see the white puff
         of smoke from the rifle,
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 loving arms
         that I'll die for,
One little kiss
         and Felina goodbye.



Horse Thief Karma

About the Horse

There's a cowboy song called "El Paso", where you got your love-sick regular fellow, and your black-eyed liquid-proud-lipped ravenous tavern girl.  Then along comes in one night a wild, wild, hard-cocked cowboy from out the range.  And he's lovin up the lovely tavern mistress, when old Mr. Lovesick up and makes a challenge.  Wild Cowboy reaches for his six-shooter, and Lovesick reaches too, and it's only Lovesick left standing.  There's hell to pay, of course.  If only because Lovesick was not slated to be the main hero.  Not to mention Mr. Whiteboy Lovesick's version of justice just left him with stomping rights over the Mexican Beauty Queen, and there is no tolerating that.

So Lovesick jack-boots it out the door, and finds the fittest-looking horse on the picket line, and he hard-rides it into the night, with the Mexican Retribution Posse on his tail.

Lovesick rides a good ride, and he's home free.  As home free as you can get when you're leaving your whiskey and your good gal all back in the warm lights of the tavern, and it's you and the shit-hard cold this time-a-year desert and an empty canteen on the lamb.  Home free, reined up at the top of a lonesome hill, dark night and easy moonlight spilling all over the place.  Lovesick looks around.  Lovesick starts to thinking.  Lovesick decides, looking down on the town of El Paso, that he ought to go back for the lady.  And he turns his horse around.  He turns his horse around, and he hard-rides it back down into dust, firmly set mustachios, bullets, broken dreams, and unrequited everything.  One bullet in the stomach.  Makes you thirsty.  Another in the chest.  Hard to breathe, impossible to stay in the saddle.  Holes for the blood to come out easy.  And Fiona, the black-eyed lady whose disdain and sex appeal caused, in one sense, the whole fiasco, she kisses Mr. Lovesick once on the lips, and then he dies.

What I am wondering about is the horse.  There is no doubt in my mind that the good horse that made good Lovesick's escape is the self-same horse that brought in the Wild Cowboy now dead on the floor, skooched off to the edge of the porch for safe-keeping until the lead bell of sobriety rings tomorrow's late morning home.  It is the cowboy's horse.  What better-fit horse could there be than the steed of the very Ghost of Christmas Wild West?  There is always, on the horizon, in the next and more mythical herd of cattle, a guy tougher, wilder, better lassooed, longer-spurred, more leathery and steelier of eye.  And he can, in these tavern situations, be expected at any moment to strut right in and take your woman.  That's how it works in the West.  And it's only your six-gun smokeless 44, it's only the equalizer of all right and wrong that protects a fellow from the Sunset riding off with his manhood.

It is good, as a warning, to crack off a few rounds into the sunset, now and then, to let All Comers know that you and yours will not, thank you very much, go gently into that good night.  If the grim reaper is knocking, he best be prepared to eat some Winchester slugs before he snicker-snacks his sickle blade.

But about the horse.  A horse has more testosterone in one wide nostril than a whole whiskey-barrel full of drunkenness and tavern high-spirit.  Even bad men, at their most sotten drunk and low-down failure to exercise self-restraint, even the ugly ones, with eye patches and hell-may-care sombreros, are not so full of man-power as a horse.  A sexy, evil, black-eyed tantalizer bar mistress can give you wet dreams and unrequited all-get-out.  But it's the horse makes your ass sore.

Even the slowest of townsfolk should realize that when the Spirit of Wild West Machismo saunters in, and even if you shoot him dead with your six-chambered wherewithal, even the most inobservant fellow who does not notice the Crow Caw Twice, well he's gonna realize that it's a flat-out bad idea to run back outside and jump on the dead cowboy's horse.  It will be noted that shooting your six-gun at the setting sun is a defiance, but does not palpably change the desert landscape.

You ought not push fate, even when armed with extra bullets and a very, very shiny revolver.  That horse is going to carry you away to your death.  Pure and simple.  The Wild West will only put up with so much before she claims her victims.

Mr. Lovesick realized something, that night, just about the time he gave Marshall Mestizo's posse the slip.  He realized there was nowhere to go.  The Wild West was waiting.  And the Cowboy's Horse was not winded.  Not lame, not frothing, not nickering in apprehension.  The Cowboy's Horse knew the trail, was ready to go.

Sure.  You might think that a good well-cajoned and grizzled fellow could Geronimo his way somewhere.  There's roots and berries, and bison by the bucket, and following downstream inevitably leads one to Good Fortune.  But you cannot.  You cannot expect to survive in the Wild West when you have stolen a Cowboy's Horse.  That horse knows.  She will carry you to the very Maw of Hell.  The Wild West is a hungry Wild West.

We all know that cattle rustlers are no good.  They make fantastic villains.  They are plenty wily, gritty, bristly, dangerous.  Plenty fun to shoot.  But a cattle rustler is a natural part of the economy.  The other one, you hang.  The other one you shoot on sight, preferably with no witnesses and your third-best rifle: the horse thief.

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