Today’s music video is Big Iron and the song is performed here by the American Country Music legend Marty Robbins.
This video was posted to You Tube by TheOldrecordclub
How often have you heard a song during your life, a song you know as soon as you hear it, and yet, you never really listen to the story the song tells.
I have often said that as you go through life, your tastes in music evolve. At the start, when you really begin your own appreciation of music, you know what you like and you stay with that. Over the years you begin to appreciate music from a wider perspective than what you know and liked at first. It happened to me, and I might add here, in much the same way as it must happen to everyone.
I started out in the early 60’s with all that wonderful music which came out of the UK, which here in Australia absolutely flooded the radio airwaves at the time, music released at such a bewildering rate, you had so many songs to listen to, and no sooner did you like a half a dozen or more, and then, within a week or so, there was that same number or more that you also liked. You hear all the other songs, but they don’t really register.
In the early and mid 70’s my tastes began to evolve and I noticed other music that earlier I may not have paid much attention to. This happened to me with Country Music and in those days it was referred to as Country and Western Music, but I just put it all down to music for the one genre really. Even later, I realised that this genre of Music was in fact, two separate genres, both Country Music and Western Music, the music from the western era of American history.
When it came to shelling out my own money for albums though, I stayed with what I knew, what I liked best, and as I was around a group of men with my job in the Royal Australian Air Force, most of those others also had record collections, so we would often share our music around, and I would then tape some of those other guy’s music, handy really, because I didn’t have to go out and buy the album myself.
What surprised me was the number of men who owned one specific album, Gunfighter Ballads by Marty Robbins, and at least one in three of them did have this album. At the time, I wasn’t really ‘into’ that genre of music, but I would occasionally hear it being played somewhere or other in our living quarters, so I knew the songs. I liked El Paso, and I mean, who didn’t, as it was such a big hit, but I remember another couple of songs from the album.
When I got married, my good lady wife had a collection of albums, and she just loved Jim Reeves and she had around a dozen or so of his albums, but there among that collection was that Marty Robbins album, Gunfighter Ballads. So, again, I remember the songs, but, other than El Paso, I was still not all that interested.
The song I have featured today is Big Iron, I song I have heard so many times throughout my life, without really paying attention to it, So, even though I knew the song well, I had never really listened to the lyrics before.
So many of those songs classified as ‘Western’ songs tell a story, and it’s usually the age old classic of good versus evil, and how good most often wins, and this is exactly the case with this wonderful song as well.
The story is that this stranger rides into town with a ‘big iron’ on his hip. The town is a small New Mexico town called Agua Fria. Big iron refers to the gun he was carrying, slung on his hip, a variant of the classic Colt Single Action Army revolver, the original U.S. Army issue weapon, and the gun reputed to have won the West, and this one mentioned in the song is one of those, only with a longer barrel. The townspeople all think that this stranger is another outlaw coming into town on business. Word gets out that he is in fact an Arizona Ranger, and he is chasing after a vicious killer, a young outlaw who lives in the town. That outlaw is known as Texas Red, an outlaw who has 20 notches on his revolver and is afraid of no one, least of all a young Ranger, so he is confident he need not run, as this Ranger will be his 21st notch. The townspeople all watch as the gunfight is about to begin, all certain that the Ranger will be killed.
In the classic battle of good versus evil, the good guy wins in this case, shooting accurately long before the outlaw has even drawn his gun.
In an age, now, when something like this might not seem to be all that politically correct, it’s songs like this one, songs telling a story, songs we all have heard so many times that remind us all of a time when life was indeed hard, when hard men were all that stood in the way of anarchy.
The song was a hit for Marty Robbins in early 1960, and charted inside the Top Five on the Country charts and crossed over into the Mainstream charts where it went just inside the Top Twenty. Here in Australia, where we didn’t have dedicated Country Music charts in those days, it did well to chart high on the Top 40 charts at the time.
While strictly a Western Song, I still find it amazing that a song I had heard so many times without really listening to the story is part of the music evolution everybody goes through during their life.