Townes Van Zandt – Pancho and Lefty. Heartworn Highways

 

Townes Van Zandt playing a medley of his hit. This is “Pancho & Lefty” played at Uncle Seymour’s place. Taken from the DVD extras on “Heartworn Highways”.

 

Townes Van Zandt with young boy showing how to pick chords
 Reddit Outlaw country/folk musician Townes Van Zandt and friend Seymour Washington
Townes Van Zandt, Susanna Clark, Guy Clark and Daniel Antopolsky on the porch at Guy and Susanna’s house in East Nashville, 1972. Courtesy Guy Clark

Please visit the link on this page for a healthy sign of new life in the heart of real country music, Putting the Hurt back in Country Music.

Have you noticed the return to quality in Country Music and the larger tent of Americana Music over the last 10 years?  Could this be an awakening in the broad music listening public for quality and “verisimilitude.”?  Here we bring you one of the important “root” songs of “outlaw” country.

The Nashville music machine was beginning to look for ways to mainstream (see commercialize) country music to make it more palatable to a broader section of consumers during the early days of Waylon and Willie.  Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, along with the songwriting genius that was Townes Van Zandt had other ideas for the music they cherished.

 Townes Van Zandt wrote numerous songs, such as “Pancho and Lefty“, “For the Sake of the Song”, “Tecumseh Valley”, “Rex’s Blues”, and “To Live Is to Fly“, that are widely considered masterpieces of American songwriting. His musical style has often been described as melancholy and features rich, poetic lyrics. During his early years, Van Zandt was respected for his guitar playing and fingerpicking ability.

In 1983, six years after Emmylou Harris had first popularized it, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song “Pancho and Lefty”, reaching number one on the Billboard country music chart. Much of Van Zandt’s life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms and backwood cabins. For much of the 1970s, he lived in a simple shack without electricity or a telephone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pancho & Lefty (Live)

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Outlaw Country singer songwriter illustration

Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson – Pancho and Lefty (Video)

Lyrics:

Living on the road my friend was gonna keep you free and clean Now you wear your skin like iron and your breath’s as hard as kerosene You weren’t your mama’s only boy but her favorite one it seems She began to cry when you said goodbye and sank into your dreams Poncho was a bandit boy, his horse was fast as polished steel He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to feel Poncho met his match you know on the deserts down in Mexico Nobody heard his dyin’ words ah but that’s the way it goes All the Federales say they could’ve had him any day They only let him slip away out of kindness I suppose Lefty he can’t sing the blues all night long the way he used to The dust that Poncho bit down south ended up in Lefty’s mouth Day they laid poor Poncho low Lefty split for Ohio Where he got the bread to go there ain’t nobody knows All the Federales say they could’ve had him any day They only let him slip away out of kindness I suppose The poets tell how Poncho fell and Lefty’s living in a cheap hotel The desert’s quiet and Cleveland’s cold and so the story ends we’re told Poncho needs your prayers it’s true but save a few for Lefty too He only did what he had to do and now he’s growing old They only let him go so long out of kindness I suppose A few great Federales say could’ve had him any day They only let him go so long out of kindness I suppose

Song

Pancho and Lefty

Artist

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