Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This and That : Pancho and Lefty

Townes Van Zandt : Pancho and Lefty


Remedial lessons in alt. Country, part 2

I discovered this song 8 years ago in a French book by Gerard Herzhaft, one of the only French country music specialists. Now it's one of my favourite songs ever, for its great melody and the enigmatic story it tells. This minor chord at the end of every verse and chorus, and the way the melodic line drops dramatically at that moment, especially when he says "and now he's growing old" fits the disillusion of the lyrics in a perfect way.
Towne's voice is not technically perfect (he often misses notes) but has a great warmth and moving melancholy.

I was playing in a folk band with a friend and we played the song live as a duet (we even recorded a demo), unaware (at least for my part) that Willie and Merle had scored a huge hit in 1983 by doing the same thing.

I read in Wikipedia that the songs' words imply that Lefty has betrayed Pancho and sold it to the cops. I really doubt that. Has anybody heard about that interpretation ?

To me it is a meditation on how we run after our dreams and forget about the rest, just to realize that we're growing old. Maybe Lefty never left Cleveland and made that trip to Mexico in his own head, with his imaginary friend Pancho.

Anyway, I'm sure, like Townes says, that Lefty is the one we should pray for. Aren't we all Lefties when we reach (or get closer to) our fourties ?

But I'm getting melancholic, so I'd better let Townes explain to us the real meaning of the song here

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