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Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1959
RecordedApril 7, 1959
Length35:25 (1959 LP)
44:44 (1999 CD)
Label Columbia
Producer Don Law
Marty Robbins chronology
Marty's Greatest Hits
Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
More Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs is the fifth studio album by Marty Robbins, released on the Columbia Records label in September 1959 and peaking at number 6 on the U.S. pop albums chart. It was recorded in a single eight-hour session on April 7, 1959, [1] and was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1965 [2] and Platinum in 1986. [3] It is perhaps best known for Robbins's most successful single, " El Paso", a major hit on both the country and pop music charts, as well as for its opening track, " Big Iron", a song that gained a resurgence in popularity online as an Internet meme. [4]

Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs reached number one on both the country and pop music charts at the start of 1960 and won the Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording the following year. A follow-up album of cowboy songs, More Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, was released in 1960. In 2017, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant". [1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic [5]
Rolling StonePositive [6]

AllMusic gave the album four-and-a-half stars, calling it "the single most influential album of Western songs in post-World War II American music". [7] It is included in every revision of the list of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. [8]

Years after the album's release, members of the Western Writers of America chose six of its songs as being among the Top 100 Western Songs of all time. Three of them were written by Robbins: "El Paso", " Big Iron", and "The Master's Call". Three were written and previously recorded by others: " Cool Water", "Billy the Kid", and " The Strawberry Roan". [9]

In 1999 the album was reissued for compact disc on the Legacy Records label with the tracks resequenced and with three bonus tracks: the full length version of "El Paso", the B-side "Saddle Tramp" and the film song " The Hanging Tree". It was part of Sony's American Milestones reissue series for classic country and western albums including, among others, At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash and Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson.

In 2010, "Big Iron" was featured in Obsidian Entertainment's role-playing video game Fallout: New Vegas as a track on the in-game radio. The inclusion of the song in the game led to a resurgence in its popularity in the 2010s, with players rediscovering the album and creating Internet memes such as parodies and edits of the album cover and edits/mashups of "Big Iron". [4]

Track listing

Side one

1." Big Iron" Marty Robbins3:56
2." Cool Water" Bob Nolan3:09
3." Billy the Kid"Traditional2:19
4."A Hundred and Sixty Acres"David Kapp1:40
5."They're Hanging Me Tonight"James Low, Art Wolpert3:05
6." The Strawberry Roan" Curley Fletcher3:25

Side two

1." El Paso"Marty Robbins4:19
2."In the Valley"Marty Robbins1:48
3."The Master's Call"Marty Robbins3:05
4."Running Gun" Tompall Glaser, Jim Glaser2:10
5."The Little Green Valley" Carson Robison2:26
6."Utah Carol"Traditional3:13

1999 reissue track listing

The reissue adds the tracks "The Hanging Tree" (a non-album single), "Saddle Tramp" (B-side of "Big Iron"), and a "full-length version" of "El Paso".

1."Big Iron"Marty Robbins3:56
2."A Hundred and Sixty Acres"David Kapp1:40
3."They're Hanging Me Tonight"James Low, Art Wolpert3:05
4."Cool Water"Bob Nolan3:09
5."Billy the Kid"traditional2:19
6."Utah Carol"traditional3:13
7."The Strawberry Roan"Curley Fletcher3:25
8."The Master's Call"Marty Robbins3:05
9."Running Gun"Tompall Glaser, Jim Glaser2:10
10."El Paso"Marty Robbins4:19
11."In the Valley"Marty Robbins1:48
12."The Little Green Valley"Carson Robison2:26
13." The Hanging Tree" Jerry Livingston, Mack David2:50
14."Saddle Tramp"Marty Robbins2:03
15."El Paso" (full length version)Marty Robbins4:38



Chart performance for Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Chart (1960) Peak
UK Albums ( OCC) [10] 20
US Top Stereo LPs ( Billboard) 6


  1. ^ a b "National Recording Registry Picks Are "Over the Rainbow"". Library of Congress. March 29, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  2. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum Database. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  3. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum Database. Retrieved 07 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b Feldman, Brian (13 February 2019). "How the 60-Year-Old Country Song 'Big Iron' Became an Enduring Meme". Intelligencer; New York. Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Eder, Bruce. Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs at AllMusic. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  6. ^ Dubro, Alec (20 September 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  7. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs review". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  8. ^ "1001 Series". 1001 Series. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  9. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 19 October 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 14, 2022.