Townes van Zandt – “Pancho and Lefty” (1972)

1960s: Days of Rage


“‘Pancho and Lefty’, originally ‘Poncho and Lefty’, is a song written by American country music singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Often considered his ‘most enduring and well-known song’, Van Zandt first recorded it for his 1972 album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. … The song is composed as a ballad of four stanzas which use the two-verse refrain: ‘All the Federales say they could’ve had him any day/ They only let him slip away out of kindness I suppose.’ The first two stanzas are sung back-to-back with the refrain being sung only after the second stanza. The verses of the first stanza introduce Lefty as a restless young soul who leaves home and his loving mother to seek his fortune south of the border. The verses of the second stanza introduce Pancho as a Mexican ‘bandit boy’, who ‘wore his gun outside his…

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