In the first scene of the last episode of “Breaking Bad,” Walter White opens the glove box of a car he’s trying to steal and the case to a Marty Robbins cassette falls out. At the end of the scene, as he starts the car, the stereo starts playing Robbins’ 1959 classic “El Paso.” Later on, as Walt builds one last contraption to fix his problems, he sings it to himself in the desert.
The writers aren’t subtle. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best. “El Paso” is one of the greatest narrative songs ever written.
The story goes that Robbins wrote it in the back seat of his Cadillac, with his wife driving, after they passed through El Paso on a road trip. What came out was an entire self-contained Western, performed in 4 minutes and 38 seconds. If you condensed the five seasons of “Breaking Bad” into its metaphorical essence, “El Paso” is about where you’d end up. The last episode is even called “Felina,” which is the name of the temptress who causes the narrator of “El Paso” to … well, let’s go take a look. (It’s best viewed in Chrome or Firefox.)