Thursday, September 1, 2016

Faleena's Folly





The "answer" song, formerly popular in the Blues and Country genres, and now well-hashed in Hip Hop, has a long history, and there are many obscure tunes in the genre that aren't documented in the above link or in any kind of ordered scholarship.  This is the first in a sporadic series where we'll address some of these hidden gems of history.

And we'll start with what has to be the most meta of answer songs, a strange moment when an artist answers their own rather legendary tune.  

Marty Robbin's El Paso, released in 1959, is a monster.  One of thee great burnt desert songs, a tale of loss, murder and regret, wide open spaces cactus prickled and epic.

You know the song.  It's imprinted in you. It should be. 

In 1976, Robbins released the song El Paso City, in which the protagonist is flying over the city of El Paso, and, get this, he remembers a song called El Paso. Think about it for a minute.  Full of nimble guitar work, a killer Mariachi note, and a melody reminiscent of the original, the narrator relives the narrative of the original song, placing themselves into the very situation that occurred in the original, only from a remove, in the sky, over the scene of the crime, a viewer above.  He imagines himself in the situation ("Could it be that I could be/The cowboy in this mystery/That died there in that desert sand so long ago"), and becomes, in his mind, the very thing he is reacting to. Robbins is singing a song in which he references the singer of the song he had previously sung ("I don't recall who sang the song..."). Nicely done. 

 So...meta.  Weird and wonderful.  Two great songs that link in perverse and obvious connection, responding to themselves in a cycle that gallops a sand blasted sunset of a lost time and a world removed.  

And...damn you Faleena, he was a good man, consarnit!
  


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