A cover of Townes van Zandt’s border bandito song “Pancho and Lefty.” Van Zandt was one of the great Texas songwriters of the 1960s-1980s, of roughly the same generation as Guy Clark and Willis Alan Ramsey. I picture this song taking place on the Mexican border near the beginning of the twentieth century at a time when trains and cars overlapped with horses and wagons. We never really get a clear picture of what Pancho and Lefty actually did or how they fell out (though the implication seems to be that Lefty betrayed Pancho), but van Zandt’s terse lines paint evocative, almost cinematic pictures.
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard made the song famous during the 1980s with their cover of it, and I was first exposed to the song through their version. I later discovered van Zandt’s original and much prefer it, though my own version probably borrows indiscriminately from both. (more…)