Out in the West Texas town of El Paso I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Nighttime would find me in Rose's Cantina,
Music would play and Felina would whirl.
Black as the night were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was strong 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 love.
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 heartbeat
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 ran through my mind as I stood there;
I had but one chance and that was to run.
Out through the back door of Rose's I ran, out where the horses were tied...
I picked a good one; he looked like he could run,
Up on his back and away I did ride.
Just as fast as I could from the West Texas town of El Paso,
Out through the badlands of New Mexico.
Back in El Paso my life would be worthless;
Everything's gone in life nothing is left.
But it's been so long since I've seen the young maiden,
My love is stronger that my fear of death.
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 Rose'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've got to make it to Rose's back door.
Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel a deep burning pain in my side
It's getting harder to stay in the saddle.
I'm getting weary, unable to ride.
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.
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.
Played by Bob Weir with the Dead regularly from 1970. He also played it a couple of times with Kingfish in the mid 70s, as well as more recently with Ratdog and Weir/Wasserman. (1) I originally thought it was "Rosie's cantina" not "Rosa's." But Henry Brier pointed out to me that "Rosa's" was much more likely for West Texas, and various Marty Robbins sites indicate that is the correct version. I've also seen "Rose's" on some lyric sites. (2) in the version on "Ladies and Gentlemen ... the Grateful Dead", Bob Weir forgets this line and repeats "My love is stronger than my fear of death" instead. (3) Marty Weinberg has an account in an interview in "The Deadhead's Taping Adendum" of the time when he corrected Bob Weir on the lyrics for this line: "It wasn't until I saw Bobby at the Felt Forum that I finally got to him and told him he was singing the song wrong. All those years he sang the wrong words. He didn't know, he never listened. I knew the song pretty well, the original Marty Robbins version, but he just didn't listen. ... At the very end of the song he was singing 'Greater my true love in arms that I'll die for.' And that's not the words. The words are 'Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for.' [Bobby said] 'Man, thanks a lot. You're right.' And there he sang it right at the Forum. He waved at me [as if to say] 'Yeah right, I finally got it right.'"