"Pancho and Lefty"
Distributed in the U.S.A. by Hand Drawn Records LLC © 2014
"Pancho and Lefty" (BMI)
Lyrics and Music by Townes Van Zandt
Publishers: JTVZ Music, KATIE BELLE MUSIC,
Will Van Zandt Publishing
Recorded at Big Acre Sound by Andrew Tinker
ABOUT PANCHO AND LEFTY: “Pancho and Lefty” is a song written by country singer and songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Often considered his “most enduring and well-known song.”
The song tells the story of a Mexican bandit named Pancho and a more enigmatic character, Lefty. The song tells of Pancho’s death and implies that he was betrayed by his associate Lefty who was paid off by the Mexican federales.
Although the lyrics are not exactly reconcilable with the historic details of the life and death of the famous Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, Van Zandt does not rule out the idea. In an interview, he recalled, “I realize that I wrote it, but it’s hard to take credit for the writing, because it came from out of the blue. It came through me and it’s a real nice song, and I think, I’ve finally found out what it’s about. I’ve always wondered what it’s about. I kinda always knew it wasn’t about Pancho Villa, and then somebody told me that Pancho Villa had a buddy whose name in Spanish meant ‘Lefty.’ But in the song, my song, Pancho gets hung. ‘They only let him hangaround out of kindness I suppose’ and the real Pancho Villa was assassinated.”
In the same interview, Van Zandt recalled, “We got stopped by these two policeman and…they said ‘What do you do for a living?’, and I said, ‘Well, I’m a songwriter’, and they both kind of looked around like ‘pitiful, pitiful’, and so on to that I added, ‘I wrote that song Pancho and Lefty. You ever heard that song Pancho and Lefty? I wrote that’, and they looked back around and they looked at each other and started grinning, and it turns out that their squad car, you know their partnership, it was two guys, it was an Anglo and a Hispanic, and it turns out, they’re called Pancho and Lefty..so I think maybe that’s what it’s about, those two guys… I hope I never see them again”
- pancho and lefty