Monday, June 15, 2009

Marty Robbins

The last two tracks on this collection come from the More Greatest Hits album, and I found that at the West Kildonan Library. It was a cassette. The rest is an album called 20 Golden Memories, a "CBS Direct" release, which I found at Woolco.

Marty Robbins:

El Paso – Ok, so he’s in love with this girl. Feleena, she’s a Mexican maiden. She dances, we know that, her eyes are black, and she is “wicked and evil.” He knows that his love is in vain. So far, the picture is not very hopeful. And yet, he sees her having a drink with a “handsome young stranger” and he kills him. Now Feleena works in this bar, and she is wicked and all that, and this is the first time he’s seen her having a drink with someone. Well he ends up being a fugitive for a while, then taking an unbelievably stupid risk he goes back to see her once more, gets ambushed, but miracle of miracles, Feleena is there to kiss him goodbye as he drops dead. Or, perhaps, this is a song of the incredible power of attraction, infatuation, how your heart can turn your brain to mush. What kind of risks people will take. Anyway it’s the lilting melody that makes this work, the Spanish guitar arrangement, Robbins’ delivery which is serious without ever becoming maudlin. This soap opera was number 1 in January of 1960, the first song to reach number in that great decade of the 60s.
Singing The Blues – A pop hit for Guy Mitchell, this was the country version, which isn’t like blues at all, but it is like blues for all that. This leaves Mitchell in the dust. It was a hit at the end of 1956.
Ruby Ann – Not likely I’d know anyone called Ruby Ann, and I never have. How love wins over wealth. From late 1962.
Devil Woman – An extra-marital liaison. Mary is the wife, she knows about us, she’s forgiven me, but the devil woman won’t give up so easy. The story of torn allegiances. From the fall of 1962.
Among My Souvenirs – Marty remembers his love affair. A hit for Connie Francis, and number 1 on the country charts for Robbins in 1976.
My Woman. My Woman, My Wife – He sings of his wife as a martyr more than anything else, but a tribute is a tribute. This could be corny, but he does this type of thing well. From the spring of 1970.
Ribbon Of Darkness – A great moment on this collection, Robbins does Lightfoot. The song appeared on Lightfoot’s first album in 1966, Robbins put it out as a single, which made number 1 on the country charts. He stays pretty close to the guitar, bass, and whistling original.
Cool Water – From the Sons Of The Pioneers through the Rooftop Singers and Burl Ives, straight to Marty Robbins. He keeps that cowboy ambience alive and well.
Tonight Carmen – A number 1 hit on the country charts in 1967. The great reunion, a phenomenon familiar to anyone who’s been married to anyone. Many references to his bedroom, new sheets, no crying etc. He does confirm, at one point, that she is his wife. Well…
Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me – The Four Seasons sang Opus 17, same idea. You go your way, sings Marty, I’ll be ok. The real message, of course, is I’m a mess. This was a hit in the winter of 1961.
A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation) – Playing a trivia game, once back around 1994, and there was a first year lawyer there who had worked for the public trustee, she was an older woman, older than me anyway, and her husband was older still, and I guess the category was song titles, and this guy must have been my partner, and he looked at the card and looked at me with a look that said this is a giveaway, and said “A White Sport Coat…” and I said “ And A Pink Carnation…” and he looked relieved, but everyone else in the room looked totally baffled. This is Robbins stab at the teen song market I guess; it’s from the spring of 1957, and here he is all dressed up with no place to go. Everything, in a nutshell, turned to crap.
Begging To You – The story of a dysfunctional relationship. From late 1963.
My Elusive Dream – A hit for David Houston and Tammy Wynette, but others did it, like Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood. This is a song about the marital bond, when it works.
Big Iron – A tale from the old west. From the spring of 1960.
El Paso City – Robbins revisits his hit. He’s up in the air, in a jetliner as the song begins, and we know that we are in a different world, as he explores the juxtaposition of two realities. This was a number 1 hit on the country chart in 1976.• The Story Of My Life – Just basically a how happy I am with you song. And they’re not even married yet. From late 1957.
You Gave Me A Mountain – Robbins sings of one hardship after another, lost his mother, nasty father, dog bites him, gets fired, hair loss, wife leaves him. But the mountain, the one he can’t climb, is the custody battle over his son. Of all the totally over-the-top, maudlin, bathetic, puke inducing songs I’ve heard, this is one of them. It was Frankie Laine, though, who had the hit.
Almost Persuaded – There are two songs with this title. One was a hit for David Houston, and it was about infidelity. This is the other. It’s church music. Very one-dimensional.
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You – So many people did this, Elvis for one. This is a respectable version.
I Walk Alone – From late 1968. Robbins music seems to have been strangely unaffected by Nashville trends.
Is There Any Chance – Pure Johnny Mathis territory. But Robbins sings this way better than Mathis could ever dream of. From the summer of 1960.
Ballad Of The Alamo – Not to be confused with Remember The Alamo. From late 1960.

1 comment:

Susan Gilbert said...

Just listen to him for 2 days while traveling. I grew up with his sound as a kid because my dad was a DJ part time while in the service. He drank with him once in Wyoming and entered a contest in FL once to meet him and won that contest. If you listen to his early years his voice was so so. But when you get to his later years on my what strength and control. Some songs did sound corny but wow in My woman he offered his spot in heaven for his wife; what love. The Mountain song with the musical build up and voice just give me chills.

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