Music: Marty Robbins

"Very simple song. God is asleep, before Creation [...] and gets the whim to wake, and decides it could be worth going through it all in order to be able to hear some music, and most of all, one of his best creations, Marty Robbins."
Pete Townshend, explaining the song "God Speaks of Marty Robbins"

Born 1925 in Glendale, Arizona, Marty Robbins was one of the more diverse Country Music artists. After working on his older brother's ranch in Phoenix, living as a hobo, serving in the Navy and teaching himself to play guitar. With some performances under his belt in the late 1940s, he finally signed to Columbia Records in 1951. Although his first two singles tanked, "Love Me or Leave Me Alone" went to number one and started a string of varied singles that lasted until his death in 1982.

Although his sound wasn't always mainstream, it was often innovative. Songs such as "El Paso" and "Big Iron" were known for their strong Western gunfighter imagery; "Devil Woman" had strong calypso overtones; "Don't Worry" was the first country song to use guitar distortion; and so on. Robbins' vocal was more croon than twang, but he is still one of the most prominent singers in the genre.

Albums with their own page


Tropes present in his work:

  • Concept Album: Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs was an early example in the genre. "Early" defined here as 1959.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: "El Paso" ends with the cowboy dying in the arms of his Latina lover Feleena after being fatally wounded by a posse for murdering another lover. The song's sequel confirms this.
  • Driven to Suicide: The title character of "Feleena (From El Paso)", after her cowboy lover has died in her arms and she feels that she could no longer live without him; she takes her own life with his gun.
  • Last Kiss: The end of "El Paso" features one between the dying male character and his lover.
  • Location Song: "El Paso", about a cowboy who fled the town after shooting down a cowboy making advances at his girlfriend.
  • Murder Ballad: "They're Hanging Me Tonight"
  • Posthumous Narration: The cowboy of "El Paso", which leads up to his untimely death.
  • Quick Draw: The subject of "Big Iron".
  • Showdown at High Noon: "Big Iron" is a description of such a gunfight, although the song specifies (for reasons of scansion) the showdown as as taking place at "twenty past eleven".
  • Spicy Latina: Feleena of "El Paso" and its sequels, though she was actually born in New Mexico during a thunderstorm.
  • Together in Death: The ending of "Feleena (From El Paso)".