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Music / Marty Robbins

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"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"

Martin David Robinson (September 26, 1925 December 8, 1982) 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 (albeit a happy accident); 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

To the page of Marty Robbins rode a troper one fine day...

  • Allegiance Affirmation: In "Big Iron", while the protagonist of the song isn't known to the people of the town at first, he soon confirms that he is a Ranger from Arizona who is tracking an outlaw named Texas Red, setting up the Showdown at High Noon that is the climax of the song.
  • Always Someone Better: Texas Red in "Big Iron" had managed to kill everyone who tried to take him before and the town thinks he's unbeatable. Then the Arizona Ranger with the title weapon came to town, and proves he's much quicker to the draw, offing Texas Red before he "cleared leather".
  • Badass Driver: Robbins was an avid NASCAR fan, and in the late sixties he began to race professionally in NASCAR on a part-time basis. Thanks to his success as a musician, he was able to field his own entry for nearly all of the races he participated. He did considerably well too: Robbins scored 6 top 10 finishes in 35 starts.
  • Born During a Storm: "Feleena (From El Paso)" begins describing Feleena's birth she was born in a thunderstorm in New Mexico, and the storm died down as she first cried.
  • Cain and Abel: In "Tall, Handsome Stranger", the narrator who is a lawman is forced to shoot his own brother who became an outlaw.
  • Concept Album: Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs was an early example in the genre. "Early" defined here as 1959.
  • Cover Version: Had the distinction of being the first person to cover Elvis Presley, by doing his own version of "That's All Right" shortly after Elvis released it as his debut single.
  • Dead All Along: The narrator of "El Paso"; shot upon his return and kisses Faleena as he dies. Confirmed in "Feleena (From El Paso)".
  • 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.
  • Dirty Communists: "Ain't I Right" can basically be called American Anti-Communist: The Song, slamming communism and those who support it.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: He accuses communism and socialism of falling under this in "Ain't I Right".
  • 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.
  • Epic Rocking: "El Paso" was nearly five minutes in an era when songs very rarely exceeded three minutes. It held the record for the longest #1 song before it was broken by "Hey Jude".
  • Foreshadowing: After Sundown in "The Ballad of Bill Thaxton" explains how he wins all his fights (he only fights just before sunset with his back to the West), he "said he wouldn't be with us tomorrow".
    • Later in the song, when Bill Thaxton confronts Sundown, the ranger gauges his distance by talking to Sundown, foreshadowing that he's blind.
  • Hand Cannon: The defining feature of the eponymous "Big Iron."
  • 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"
  • Young Gun: "Big Iron's" Texas Red is "vicious and a killer though a youth of twenty-four." He has easily gunned down twenty men in duels and the ensuing arrogance leads him to fatally underestimate the mysterious ranger who comes to town.
  • Porn Stache: Grew one in The '70s.
  • Posthumous Narration: The cowboy of "El Paso", which leads up to his untimely death.
  • Quick Draw: The subject of "Big Iron".
    There was forty feet between 'em when they stopped to make their play
    And the swiftness of the Ranger is still talked about today
    Texas Red had not cleared leather 'fore a bullet fairly ripped
    And the Ranger's aim was deadly with the big iron on his hip.
  • 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)".

"Oh, he might have went on trolling, but he made one fatal slip: when he tried to troll the troper with the Zapper on their hip... Zapper on their hip!"