GUNFIGHTER BALLADS AND TRAIL SONGS
Original 1959 album liner notes
(x “LP” 47133)
1. BIG IRON
2. COOL WATER
3. BILLY THE KID
4. A HUNDRED AND SIXTY ACRES
5. THEY’RE HANGING ME TONIGHT
6. THE STRAWBERRY ROAN
(x “LP” 47134)
1. EL PASO
2. IN THE VALLEY
3. THE MASTER’S CALL
4. RUNNING GUN
-Tom Glaser-Tim Glaser-
5. DOWN IN THE LITTLE GREEN VALLEY
6. UTAH CAROL
The man of the west is one of the most cherished figures in Americana, a rugged symbol of the making of the country, of a hard life and of elemental existence. The men whose songs Marty Robbins sings in this collection were hard-working, hard-playing men, with little relation to the tight-trousered, tight-lipped puppets of western fiction; their days were spent in dry deserts under blazing suns, their nights in exhausted rest or wild carousing, and they left behind them a powerful tradition. And the tradition, even when it is prettied up, is a strong and rousing one, excitedly echoed in these songs.
The lonely life of the cowboy and the gunfighter is reflected in their ballads, which are predominantly melancholy even when the tune itself is lively. There were lost families, lost sweethearts, lost friends, and around the men of the west those endless plains, magnifying the solitude. And there was work to be done, hard work herding cattle and sheep, building the railroads, and guarding them all from the badmen and the Indians, who in turn provided their own problems.
There were flamboyant figures, of course, wonderful legends that still stride through the songs and stories of the west, and they too are saluted by Marty Robbins. Good men or bad, they all have an aura of romantic daring that clings to them still, and their histories provide a clean stroke of action that builds to a climax as inevitable as those of Greek tragedies – perhaps this is why Europeans have been even more enthusiastic about the American West than Americans.
At any rate, here are the songs, cheerful, lonesome, narrative, atmospheric, that many of these men sang. They are performed here by Marty Robbins, one of the most gifted and sensitive western singers. At home in either popular or folk songs, Marty sings both with wonderful versatility and has numberless admirers in both camps. Such records as A White Sport Coat and Singing the Blues were among the biggest sellers of recent years, and Marty’s albums have been equally popular. And here he offers songs that are naturals for his appealing style and makes them sound more interesting and rewarding than ever in a splendidly panoramic portrait of the old West.
PHOTO: DON CRAVENS OF BLACK STAR
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