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Author: Subject: The Song Pancho and Lefty

Maximum Peach





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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:28 PM
I have become quite a big Townes Van Zandt fan in the last year or so. And I have this fine site to thank for that. All the Townes that I currently have are lives shows that I've aquired here.

I manged to work out the chords to Pancho and Lefty recently on guitar and was pleasantly surprised to find that this is one of those songs that I can actually do some justice to, even with my limited, near 3 note range. Well...maybe what I should say is I manage to do a minimum of "damage" to it...

God. I love this song. Pure Townes in the typical underlying themes of pain, isolation and loss. And the lyrics are pure poetry. It reminds me of Dylan's Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts in the sense that the lyrics are just cyrptic enough that you may think you know what the song is about but after you give it another listen you realize that you're not quite sure.

Just who was Lefty ? Why did he have to split. Was he a fellow bandito? Drinking buddy? Pancho's American gun runner ? And why Ohio? Guess only Townes knew for sure.

By the way. I do love Willie Nelson's version but to get the true essence of the song, you just gotta hear Townes sing it.

Anyone else love this song like I do?

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:32 PM
quote:
Just who was Lefty ? Why did he have to split. Was he a fellow bandito? Drinking buddy? Pancho's American gun runner ? And why Ohio? Guess only Townes knew for sure.




Andrew,here he is!!


 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:35 PM
quote:
quote:
Just who was Lefty ? Why did he have to split. Was he a fellow bandito? Drinking buddy? Pancho's American gun runner ? And why Ohio? Guess only Townes knew for sure.




Andrew,here he is!!






Never saw that one coming.......


I hope Lefty continues to "sing the blues all night long" as long as he wants to....

[Edited on 4/11/2007 by les_paul_sunburst]

 

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"In my dream the pipes were playing

In my dream I lost a friend

Come down Gabriel and blow your horn

Cause some day we will meet again"



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Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:36 PM
This song was written by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

 

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World Class Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:40 PM
quote:
This song was written by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.


'Poncho and Lefty' is 100% a Townes Van Zandt penned song.

If anyone is interested, I started a vine on the vines forum of a 1990 TVZ show that is pretty darn good. Jump aboard, learn about this guy.

Andrew, the TVZ song that gets me everytime is his version of Guy Clark's 'Desperado's waiting for a train'.

[Edited on 4/11/2007 by TanDan]

 

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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:42 PM
quote:
'Poncho and Lefty' is 100% Townes Van Zandt's song
oops - you are correct. my bad!

 

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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:51 PM
quote:
quote:
'Poncho and Lefty' is 100% Townes Van Zandt's song
oops - you are correct. my bad!


That's ok...I used to think some guy named Jethro Tull wrote Aqualung.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:52 PM
That's Lefty and Pedro above not Lefty and Pancho.

Thanks to this website and catching the film on Townes late one night my eyes were opened. I love TVZ. Rake and Waitin 'Round to Die are my two favorites by Townes. Hell I could ramble all night about his music.

 

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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 06:56 PM
quote:
That's ok...I used to think some guy named Jethro Tull wrote Aqualung.
LOL - you mean Jethro didn't write than one?? (btw - this has sparked an interest for me in learning more of TVZ. Have heard the Willie/Merle version of P&L and then EmmyLou's but I'm thinking I need to hear more TVZ from the source.)

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 07:05 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
'Poncho and Lefty' is 100% Townes Van Zandt's song
oops - you are correct. my bad!


That's ok...I used to think some guy named Jethro Tull wrote Aqualung.


Oh yeah right. Next thing you'll try to tell me is Alice Cooper is a guy.

 

____________________
"In my dream the pipes were playing

In my dream I lost a friend

Come down Gabriel and blow your horn

Cause some day we will meet again"



Fallen Angel -Robbie Robertson (for HughDuty...and for TanDan)





RIP Strider...(1999-2012)

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 07:09 PM
quote:
LOL - you mean Jethro didn't write than one??


 

____________________
"In my dream the pipes were playing

In my dream I lost a friend

Come down Gabriel and blow your horn

Cause some day we will meet again"



Fallen Angel -Robbie Robertson (for HughDuty...and for TanDan)





RIP Strider...(1999-2012)

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 07:41 PM
I've always been fascinated by Townes' music, and saddened by the way he lived and died at the end. I can understand why his friends, such as Emmylou, were pissed at him after the fact, as it was talented wasted.

I interviewed legendary musician Peter Rowan about two weeks ago for an article (http://www.lincolnstandard.com/main.asp?SectionID=39&SubSectionID=42&a mp;ArticleID=1197) and I knew that he had hung out with Townes and knew him in Nashville and Texas. So, I asked him about Townes, (it didn't make the article) and talked about the movie that Townes was in from 1975 called Heartworn Highways.

Anyway, here is what Peter Rowan said about Townes Van Zandt;

" Whenever I ran into him, all we talked about was the songs, and the excitement of the poetry. He was truly into it, you know. When you sit down with a songwriter, lets say in Nashville, and you’re collaborating, that’s your moment to be excited about what you’re working on. Townes was always that way, no matter where you ran into him. He had a strange kind of affinity and connection with people who were having a hard time, I would say. He drew people to him who were having a hard time psychologically, either using drugs or drinking a lot. They swarmed to him. I think they felt an empathy that Townes had. There was another film of Townes that came out recently, a biography, what was it called…For The Sake Of The Song? I don’t know. (i think the movie Peter is refering to is Be Here To Love Me) Townes suffered some bad accidents in his life that kind of hurt him hard. Falling out of a window and all of that. The movie was very sad for me to see. I mean, I knew Townes and Townes was not really a sad person. He was melancholy, but his fire was burning within. He was blue, man. He had the blues of existence. He had the Dharma blues."

Derek H

[Edited on 4/12/2007 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 07:51 PM
Thanks for sharing this Derek. Sounds like Townes didn't plan on being around long. A couple of quotes he made that really point to that 'blues of existence' that Peter Rowan referred to:

"I don't envision a very long life for myself. I've kind of designed it that way."
(from Be Here To Love Me film)

"Well, many of the songs, they aren't sad, they're hopeless."
(when asked why he only wrote sad songs)

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 07:54 PM
quote:
Just who was Lefty ? Why did he have to split. Was he a fellow bandito? Drinking buddy? Pancho's American gun runner ? And why Ohio? Guess only Townes knew for sure.

By the way. I do love Willie Nelson's version but to get the true essence of the song, you just gotta hear Townes sing it.

Anyone else love this song like I do?


Man, I love that song and then some! And I agree that it's pretty cryptic -- but I don't think it's QUITE as mysterious as you say...

I would say that Lefty was a hired gun who befriended then killed Pancho for the money. A little like Jesse James and Robert Ford. "Pancho needs your prayers it's true," cuz he was unredeemed as an outlaw and then killed. Romantic outlaw hero like Jesse James. "But save a few for Lefty too, he just did what he had to do, and now he's growing old..." No hero's death for Lefty, just duty and feeding the family, hard as it seems. Pancho is a romantic figure, Lefty just a working stiff hired gun. Townes has sympathy for them both, for the way they played their roles.

Great great song, like a little movie unto itself. With a Greek chorus to boot: "All the Federales say We coulda had him any day, we only let him go so wrong out of kindness I suppose." I get chills...

 

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World Class Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 08:49 PM
Thanks Derek for sharing that.

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 08:50 PM
quote:
quote:
Just who was Lefty ? Why did he have to split. Was he a fellow bandito? Drinking buddy? Pancho's American gun runner ? And why Ohio? Guess only Townes knew for sure.

By the way. I do love Willie Nelson's version but to get the true essence of the song, you just gotta hear Townes sing it.

Anyone else love this song like I do?


Man, I love that song and then some! And I agree that it's pretty cryptic -- but I don't think it's QUITE as mysterious as you say...

I would say that Lefty was a hired gun who befriended then killed Pancho for the money. A little like Jesse James and Robert Ford. "Pancho needs your prayers it's true," cuz he was unredeemed as an outlaw and then killed. Romantic outlaw hero like Jesse James. "But save a few for Lefty too, he just did what he had to do, and now he's growing old..." No hero's death for Lefty, just duty and feeding the family, hard as it seems. Pancho is a romantic figure, Lefty just a working stiff hired gun. Townes has sympathy for them both, for the way they played their roles.

Great great song, like a little movie unto itself. With a Greek chorus to boot: "All the Federales say We coulda had him any day, we only let him go so wrong out of kindness I suppose." I get chills...


Nice take there ....

 

____________________
"In my dream the pipes were playing

In my dream I lost a friend

Come down Gabriel and blow your horn

Cause some day we will meet again"



Fallen Angel -Robbie Robertson (for HughDuty...and for TanDan)





RIP Strider...(1999-2012)

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 4/11/2007 at 08:51 PM
And thanks for the unpublished interview segment Derek....

 

____________________
"In my dream the pipes were playing

In my dream I lost a friend

Come down Gabriel and blow your horn

Cause some day we will meet again"



Fallen Angel -Robbie Robertson (for HughDuty...and for TanDan)





RIP Strider...(1999-2012)

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 08:35 AM
Jonell Mosser was one of Townes' best friends. She recorded an album as tribute to TVZ called ABout Townes. Beautiful and heartwrenching. Try to snag a copy if you can find it. Jonell was Townes favorite vocalists, and when Townes played The Bluebird Cafe as he frequently did, he would always ask her to sing one of his standards. Her version of Desperados Waiting For A Train will move you. Townes was THE songwriter in Nashville. We're still waiting for someone near his caliber.
 

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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 08:59 AM
One of the best songs ever written, drank many a beer to that song.

 

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World Class Peach



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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 09:18 AM
"Townes Van Zandt is the BEST SONGWRITER in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."---Steve Earle

 

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"There's only two kinds of music...The Blues and Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah"- Townes Van Zandt

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 09:22 AM
Desperadoes Waiting For A Train
By Clark Guy

I played the Red River Valley.
He'd sit in the kitchen and cry.
Run his fingers through seventy years of livin'.
"I wonder, Lord, has every well I've drilled gone dry?".
We were friends, me and this old man,
Like desperados waitin' for a train.
Desperados waitin' for a train.

Well, he's a drifter an' a driller of oil wells.
And an old school man of the world.
He taught me how to drive his car when he w's too drunk to.
Oh, and he'd wink and give me money for the girls.
An' our lives were like, some old Western movie,
Like desperados waitin' for a train.
Like desperados waitin' for a train.

An' from the time that I could walk, he'd take me with him,
To a bar called the Green Frog Cafe.
An' there was old men with beer guts and dominos.
Oh, an they're lying 'bout their lives while they played.
An' I was just a kid, that they all called his sidekick,
Like desperados waitin' for a train.
Like desperados waitin' for a train.

One day I looked up and he's pushin' eighty.
An' he's brown tobacco stains all down his chin.
Well, to me he's one of the heroes of this country,
So why's he all dressed up like them old men?
He's drinkin' beer and playin' Moon and Forty-two.
Like a desperado waitin' for a train.
Like a desperado waitin' for a train.

An' then the day before he died, I went to see him,
I was grown and he was almost gone.
So we just closed our eyes and dreamed us up a kitchen,
And sang another verse to that old song.
Come on, Jack, that son-of-a-bitch is comin'.
We're like desperados waitin' for a train
Like desperados waitin' for a train.
Like desperados waitin' for a train.
Like desperados waitin' for a train.

 

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"There's only two kinds of music...The Blues and Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah"- Townes Van Zandt

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 09:34 AM
quote:
"Townes Van Zandt is the BEST SONGWRITER in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."---Steve Earle
LOL - read that one, Dan, and enjoyed Townes reply:

"I've met Bob Dylan and his bodyguards, and I don't think Steve [Earle] could get anywhere near his coffee table." - Townes Van Zandt.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 09:54 AM
quote:
I would say that Lefty was a hired gun who befriended then killed Pancho for the money.


I do not kill no one....just play guitar..dat's all....

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 10:04 AM
Lefty - Hope everything is working out with the southbound air travel from Chi-town?

 

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Peach Master



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  posted on 4/12/2007 at 12:20 PM
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----
"Townes Van Zandt is the BEST SONGWRITER in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."---Steve Earle
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----

LOL - read that one, Dan, and enjoyed Townes reply:

"I've met Bob Dylan and his bodyguards, and I don't think Steve [Earle] could get anywhere near his coffee table." - Townes Van Zandt.


Anyone ever heard Dylan do the song Poncho and Lefty? June 21, 1989. Pretty awesome. Also, Dylan does it as a duet with Willie for his 60th B-day bash. Check it out on youtube.

 

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