Ten Paces

Picking and grinning with the blind pig gang

I got the old song Ten Paces on my mind the other day. As I was humming along with the song in my head, I wondered if I’d ever shared our version of the song here on the Blind Pig. A quick check of the archives told me I hadn’t, and a quick google for the song left me wondering who in the world sung it but us?

Every time I searched for information about the song, I either found Pap and Paul or a pop song with a similar name. I searched in connection with Marty Robbins since it seems like a cowboy song he would sing. Came up with nothing on that score either. I finally decided maybe Paul wrote it.

A few emails later Paul assured me he didn’t write it even though he wished he could lay claim to it. He said they learned it from Reno and Smiley and he always figured Don Reno wrote the song.

I searched for Ten Paces in connection with Reno and Smiley and managed to discover Gertrude Doro penned the song. But that information, and the fact that Reno and Smiley released the song, were the only historical details I could find about it.

The song is a real toe-tapper. It tells the story of a man stealing his best friend’s sweetheart and then having to take the dreaded ten pace walk that happens before both men draw their guns to fight for the girl. The story grabs your attention and squeezes your heart once he kills his best friend and loses the girl all at once. My favorite part of the song is Paul’s amazing flat top picking.


I hope you enjoyed the song and if you know any historical details about it please share them.


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  • Reply
    Donna Brewton
    October 16, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Eight years ago this was posted & I”m just now finding it !!!!! Good music makes my day. Thanks bunches,
    Donna B

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    May 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I like the first picture — looks as though Pap still spit-shined his shoes 🙂 <3

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    September 25, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Any girl that would do that wasn’t worth the love or life of either of them then.
    Don’t you think?
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    It had been so long since I’d heard “Ten Paces” that I had almost forgotten the song. Very fine job by Paul and Pap! And thanks to Ed Ammons for the lesson about the author of the song. It’s good (but sad) to know this information. And yes! Eva Nell and I had a wonderful time on Saturday reading at the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center with the NC writers whose leader Shirley Cole kindly included us! A beautiful weekend!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Wonderful music as usual. I always dreamed of having a family that made music together – you are all so blessed! – and I am so envious!
    As is the case most of the time, your post set me to wondering: why was it always “10 paces”? – or was it always “10 paces”? – does the reason folks sometimes “count to 10” when they get angry have some connection to dueling? – if so, when and why did the phrase get extended to “count to 10 and do it again”? Seems reasonable to think you couldn’t “do it again” after a duel!)

  • Reply
    September 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    You are so right; it is a great toe tapping tune. It was the way things were done sometimes way back when. Happy Sunday!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Paul knows how to bend those strings, and I enjoy their harmonizing. It’s hard for me to hear the bass. Must have a little hearing damage from days gone by. Due to the company you keep, that bass must sound good.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Tipper,Great music as always! If only we would count to ten before making some decision in life,we wouldn’t have those ten steps of regret to take in defence of ourself. God Bless. Jean

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    September 8, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Great job! Nothing like tapping your toe to a sad,sad song.ha,ha

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Arthur Lee “Red” Smiley Jr. of Reno and Smiley, in case I haven’t told you before, was my 1st cousin 2X removed. In layman’s terms his grandfather was my great great grandfather. My grandmother Cunningham and he were first cousins. Daddy was proud to be “kin” to “Red” and would listen to him on the radio all the time. Me, being a rebellious teenager, refused to listen to all that hokey music my parents loved. What fools we mortals be, especially the one I refer to as me.
    Red’s whole adult life was a struggle. He was severely wounded in Sicily in WWII and lost one of his lungs. It took two years at Walter Reed Hospital before he recovered enough to go back to his beloved music, now with only one lung. Red struggled as a musician, not for lack of abilities but because of his disabilities. He died in 1974 from complications of diabetes and is buried in DeHart Cemetery in Swain County. His tombstone has on it guitar and a record. If you happen to be traveling east on US 19-74, take the Alarka Road exit and turn left back across the overpass. At the stop sign go straight across the highway and the railroad track then turn right. The cemetery is on the side of the hill there. Red’s stone stands proud there as his life surely should and would have had not his country called.
    Tipper-One day when you are taking Pap over to Asheville for a checkup or something, you ought to stop by there and have a look. You and he might enjoy seeing it.

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    September 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Terrific music again and I hope it ends up on the playlist.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    September 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

    love story songs and these fellers do a great job!!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 8, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Hadn’t heard that one before, but
    I liked it! I always said Paul is
    the best guitar picker I ever heard. And Pap’s harmony and your bass made it wonderful. You all
    have that Special Sound that we all
    enjoy so much, thank you…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 8, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Paul, Pap and everyone! I loved the spiffy song this mornin. Did the upbeat music help the writer through a sad song?
    You know everyone has to take ten paces in there own way. It’s just the reason and timing of the walk and how fast you turn. I do my best to avoid ten paces. One reason is ’cause I am a terrible shot and couldn’t shoot a person unless I absolutely had to. I’d be playin’ “hidey-hide”, hiding in a closet and callin’ 911…LOL
    Thanks for the morning music Tipper,
    PS…..How’s the “greens” garden goin’….We haven’t planted and I know it’s gettin late, may have to slip over the mountain. I know a place in Brasstown that generally has a good crop…!!

  • Reply
    Gina S
    September 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I’d never heard this song before. It’s a powerful reminder on the price paid by allowing pride to lead a person. In the beginning of the song comes a mention of the friend slapping the singer in the face with a glove. That act led to many duels back in history, didn’t it! Thanks for sharing the Blind Pig rendition. Once again your family did a fine job.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 8, 2013 at 7:52 am

    As always they do a great job with the song. It is a new one to me and I enjoyed it very much.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    September 8, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Tipper: The fellows sound mighty good on a beautiful Sunday morning. They just ought to go over to the OLD COURT HOUSE in Blairsville for a Friday night show. We were there this past Friday evening. The group was so good Jim bought their last two CDs and we listened to them all the way back to Oak Ridge.
    Yesterday Ethelene and I had a wonderful ‘Poetry Reading’ at the BHReese Center with a group of poets from Franklin, NC. Their fantastic ‘leader’ treated us like royalty and it was truly an unforgettable experience for me.
    I will be back in Blairsvile this coming WED (09-11-13)for an introduction of “Fiddler” to the writers group. WISH YOU COULD MAKE IT!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    September 8, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I don’t think I’ve heard this one before, but very well done.. and yall need to keep a fire extinguisher close by because one day Paul’s guitar is gonna catch on fire.. he’s burning them strings up.. 😉

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