Mark Nicol / YouTube
Out of all of the songs in country music, few tell as detailed of a story as Marty Robbins‘ “El Paso.”
At four minutes and 38 seconds in length, the song was longer than most anything else on the radio at that time. Because of its uniqueness, “El Paso” achieved an iconic status almost right away.
Written entirely by Robbins, “El Paso” tells the story of a cowboy who falls madly in love with a girl named Faleena. But the song ends tragically, as the narrator is shot after being attacked by a band of rival cowboys. He is finally reunited with Faleena, and ends up fading away in her arms.
The story that Robbins told in “El Paso” intrigued all who listened. As a result, the song claimed the top spot on both the Country and Western chart and the Billboard Hot 100.
Robbins had already been a popular artist before, but “El Paso” was the one song that truly put him on the map. After all this time, it is still considered to be his signature piece.
Since “El Paso” was such a big hit, Robbins often performed it for various television appearances. There is no shortage of footage from these appearances, which ranged throughout Robbins career.
But until just a few years ago, one of Robbins’ old performances was completely lost to history. This performance took place in 1964, and was filmed when Robbins appeared on the show Country Style, which was in Australia. Although the performance was filmed by Channel 7 News there, it never appeared on air.
Finally, a clip of Robbins singing “El Paso” on Country Style surfaced online, and it’s a real treasure to watch. Filmed entirely in black and white, this rare footage shows Robbins singing a significantly shortened version of “El Paso.” It may sound like an entirely different song to you!
By the time this performance was filmed, Robbins had been in the business for nine years. While many artists take much longer to come into their own, Robbins showed through this performance that he was already a star.
Witness a previously lost piece of Robbins’ history by watching him sing “El Paso” below. After watching this, you’ll wonder why the people behind Country Style never thought to air such a brilliant performance!