"Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs": Marty Robbins's Quest Into The LP Record Frontier
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Marty Robbins’s 1959 album "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs" has been critically acclaimed as a pioneering work as a concept album, one of the first of its kind in the country and western genre. This paper explores Robbins’s use of the cowboy image, tracing its origins in American popular culture to its adoption by country music artists, to emphasize the image’s historical significance and influence. Robbins’s career in Nashville’s country music industry in the 1950s is examined, illustrating his versatility as a musician as well his frustrations with the business. "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs" is evidence of a country artist experimenting with a new format, the long-playing record (LP), and large-scale narratives in a musical era that was dominated by the two-and-a-half minute single. Robbins’s use of the cowboy image and his western musical brand combine to create Robbins’s concept of the Old West on "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs."