Talkin' Blues: Tennessee Tejano — Grady Martin and “El Paso”

These videos are bonus content related to the January 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Viewers of the series finale of the hit TV drama Breaking Bad may have recognized Marty Robbins’ haunting ballad “El Paso” running through the soundtrack.

The song describes a parallel tale of doomed obsession on the wild southwest border, but it is the evocative melodies of guitarist Grady Martin—rather than television cameras—that establish the location and mood.

In its diversity of influences, “El Paso” is as American as they come. Its three-beat waltz rhythm was introduced, along with the two-beat polka, to Mexico and south Texas by 19th century German, Polish and Czech immigrants. Adapted to Spanish guitars by Mexican troubadours, the various rhythms, melodies and lyric themes blended into the border-straddling style known as Tejano, or Tex-Mex, the ideal musical setting for “El Paso.”

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