Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for June

 For this post, I'm doing something a bit different. I'm going to deconstruct oneof the most iconic Western songs.

Everyone has heard Marty Robbins' El Paso. And just about everyone, including me, loves the song. I love his followup, El Paso City, even more. However, El Paso, as written, is actually quite flawed.

I'll start with the lyric that grateso n me most. It's .."Maybe tomorrow a bullet may find me." Every writer knows, or leans very quickly, never to repeat two such close sounding words, unless it's absolutely impossible. A simple change to "... Maybe tomorrow a  bullet WILL find me would have been a great improvement and solve the problem.. I can't believe not one person involved in the writing, producing, and singing of this classic didn't suggest the change. As it is, every time I hear that line, it makes me cringe, and want to grind my teeth.

Then there's the backgrounds of the characters and action. First of all, Felina was no maiden. Not even close. Of course, perhaps she was to  a cowboy in lust (yes, I use the word lust as opposed to love purposely. She was a female entertainer in a Mexican cantina, who clearly was willing to use her charms to seduce any man.

Second is the fatal gunfight itself.  The "handsome young stranger" drew first. Robbins' character shot him in a clear case of self defense. Unless the cowboy had a lot of friends, which since he was a stranger it would seem he didn't, Robbins' character would have gone free. No need to run,

Third, the horse theft. Despite popular myth, horse thieving was never a capital offense in the Old West. Of course, vigilantes or the horse's owners might take it into themselves to hang a horse thief. I know I would. Either way, it's likely Robbins' character would have been strung up for horse theft rather than killing a man in a fair showdown.

The return trip is also a problem. It was dark, so how did all those cowboys see Robbins' character coming back? How could they know it was him? They were shooting from long distance, so it was impossible to tell who they were shooting at. And how did Feline know it wsa him.

So, a clqssic song that I love, but is deeply flawed.

Bonus: I've only heard one version of Ghost Riders in the Sky which I just can't tolerate. It's Frankie Laine's version. Laine doesn't have a particularly good voice, in my opinion, but it's a change in the original lyrics that makes me crazy. Instead of "horses snorting fire" Laine added a word: "horses snorting flaming fire" Huh? As opposed to non-flaming fire? Just dumb.

\Okay, until next month.

"Ranger" Jim

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