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The song is about a guy who fell in love with a girl he met in a bar (se enamoró con una chica que conoció en un bar). The bar was called Rosa’s Cantina, her name was Felina. Evidently she spent a lot of time there, dancing by herself, or with the customers (bailando sola, o con los clientes). I think she was employed by the bar (Creo que fue contratado por el( bar). Anyway, the guy was smitten by her eyes (le gustaba sus ojos), which he described as “wicked and evil” (ojos malvados). Go figure.
So one night a good looking cowboy came in and bought Felina a drink (compró una cervecita para Felina). This upset the guy so much that he challenged him to a gun fight (esto le molestó tanto que le retó a un tiroteo). I guess he thought Felina was his girl, even though they had never even gone out on a date (que nunca habían estado en una cita). Go figure.
Here, you listen for a while …
Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Music would play and Felina would whirl.
Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell.
One night a wild young cowboy came in,
Wild as the West Texas wind.
Dashing and daring, a drink he was sharing
With wicked Felina, the girl that I loved.
So in anger I challenged his right for the love of this maiden.
Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.
My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;
The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.
Just for a moment I stood there in silence,
Shocked by the foul evil deed I had done.
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;
I had but one chance and that was to run.
So I don’t understand why he felt he had to run away (No entiendo por qué él sintió que tenía que salir). After all, it was the other guy who drew his gun first (que era el otro que sacó su arma primero). From the way he described it, it was self defense (era autodefensa).
Out through the back door of Rosa’s I ran,
Out where the horses were tied.
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 could from the West Texas town of El Paso,
Out to the badlands of New Mexico.
Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.
Everything’s gone in life, nothing is left.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death.
Here is where this guy makes his second mistake in this song.
He should have just stayed in New Mexico, maybe meet some other girl in Las Cruces, or Roswell or Albuquerque. There must’ve been lots of dark-eyed girls in Albuquerque, for sure. But he didn’t …
I saddled up and away I did go, riding alone in the dark.
Maybe tomorrow a bullet may find me,
Tonight nothing’s worse than this pain in my heart.
And at last here I am on the hill overlooking El Paso;
I can see Rosa’s cantina below.
My love is strong and it pushes me onward.
Down off the hill to Felina I go.
Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;
Off to my left ride a dozen or more.
Shouting and shooting I can’t let them catch me.
I have to make it to Rosa’s back door.
Amazing that after all the time that had passed, that the dead guy’s friends were still waiting to avenge Felina’s death (vengar su muerte). Maybe they weren’t the friends of the guy who died in the gunfight, but friends of Felina. Maybe she had lots of boyfriends. Maybe lots of guys liked her wicked and evil eyes. That makes sense to me (tiene sentido para mí) …
Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side.
Though I am trying to stay in the saddle,
I’m getting weary, unable to ride.
He got shot.
But my love for Felina is strong and I rise where I’ve fallen,
Though I am weary I can’t stop to rest.
I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.
I don’t think this last part really happened. I think he was hallucinating (él estaba teniendo alucinaciones). Give a listen …
From out of nowhere Felina has found me,
kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.
Cradled by two loving arms that I’ll die for,
One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.
The reason why I don’t think it happened is because Felina told me it didn’t. And I believe her.
Comedian Steve Martin made this video sketch of the song El Paso: