El Paso

by Marty Robbins • Lesson #315 • Aug 15, 2020

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

After many requests, I’m proud to share this lesson teaching you how to play El Paso, the classic 1959 song from Marty Robbins. This one has a delicious intro riff (which I’ll teach in depth), as well as standard cowboy chords that make up the verse & chorus. I’ll teach all this, including 3 different ways to approach the strumming. Enjoy!

Timestamps for my video lesson:

  • 0:00 Lesson overview
  • 0:59 Chord shapes needed
  • 1:42 Chord progressions (verse & chorus)
  • 5:55 Strumming patterns (3 options)
  • 9:45 Playthrough (1st verse & chorus)
  • 11:51 Alternating bass note strumming
  • 13:01 Intro riff breakdown (with tab)
  • 21:44 Farewell

Video of Marty Robbins version of this song

Original studio version:

Live version:

Lyrics and chords

D                     Em                 A7                            D
Out in the west Texas town of El Paso... I fell in love with a Mexican girl
D                           Em                A7                                D
Night time would find me in Rosa's cantina... music would play and Feleena would whirl
D                           Em                A7                                D
Blacker than night were the eyes of Feleena... wicked and evil while casting her spell
D                         Em                A7                                 D    (D7)
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden... I was in love, but in vain I could tell

    G                      G                 G                      D        D     D7     D7
    One night a wild young cowboy came in... wild as the West Texas wind------------
    D7                    D7                           D7                (D7)         G
    Dashing and daring, a drink he was sharing... with wicked Feleena, the girl that I loved
          A7
    So in an----ger I...

[D] Challenged his right for the [Em] love of this maiden, [A7] down went his hand for the gun that he [D] wore
My [D] challenge was answered in [Em] less than a heartbeat, [A7] the handsome young stranger lay dead on the [D] floor
[D] Just for a moment I [Em] stood there in silence, [A7] shocked by the foul evil deed I had [D] done
[D] Many thoughts raced through my [Em] mind as I stood there, [A7] I had but one chance and that was to [D] run [D7]

    Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran... out where the horses were [D] tied--- [D]--- [D7]--- [D7]---
    I caught a good one, it looked like it could run... up on its back, and away I did ride
    Just as fast---- as I....

[D] Could from the West Texas [Em] town of El Paso, [A7] out to the badlands of New Mexico [D]
[D] Back in El Paso my [Em] life would be worthless, [A7] everything's gone in life, nothing is [D] left
[D] It's been so long since I've [Em] seen the young maiden, [A7] my love is stronger than my fear of [D] death

    I saddled up and away I did go... riding alone in the [D] dark--- [D]--- [D7]--- [D7]---
    Maybe tomorrow a bullet may find me... tonight nothing's worse than this pain in my heart
    And at last----, here I...

[D] Am on the hill over[Em]looking El Paso, [A7] I can see Rosa's cantina [D] below
[D] My love is strong and it [Em] pushes me onward, [A7] down off the hill to Feleena I [D] go
[D] Off to my right I see [Em] five mounted cowboys, [A7] off to my left ride a dozen or [D] more
[D] Shouting and shooting, I [Em] can't let them catch me, [A7] I have to make it to Rosa's back [D] door [D7]

    Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel... a deep burning pain in my [D] side--- [D]--- [D7]--- [D7]---
    Though I am trying to stay in the saddle... I'm getting weary, unable to ride
    But my love---- for...

[D] Feleena is strong and I [Em] rise where I've fallen, [A7] though I am weary I can't stop to [D] rest
[D] I see the white puff of [Em] smoke from the rifle, [A7] I feel the bullet go deep in my [D] chest
[D] From out of nowhere [Em] Feleena has found me, [A7] kissing my cheek as she kneels by my [D] side
[D] Cradled by two loving [Em] arms that I'll die for, [A7] one little kiss and Feleena, good [D] bye

Intro riff

See PDF chord sheet.

Chord progressions

See PDF chord sheet.

Strumming with alternating bass notes

See PDF chord sheet.

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