PANCHO AND LEFTY: EMMY LOU HARRIS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango – Pancho & Lefty: The Range

Ride the range with Pancho and Lefty. Even though Lefty died in Dayton, Ohio, he had his time with Pancho in Mexico. Now that I’ve memorized the words, it all makes sense. For years, I could only figure out fragments until I discovered (duh) that the lyrics were printed in the cover pages of the CD (I also had it on vinyl, back in ye olden days).

“Pancho and Lefty” written by Townes Van Zandt, was recorded by Emmylou Harris for her 1977 album, “Luxury Liner,” released on Warner Bros and available on CD on Rhino.

“There are only two kinds of men in the world: those that are in love with Emmy Lou and those that haven’t met her yet.” — Willy Nelson.


Pancho & Lefty
Townes Van Zandt
Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath’s as hard as kerosene
You weren’t your mama’s only boy
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams
Pancho was a bandit boy
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words
That’s the way it goes
All the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness, I suppose
Lefty he can’t sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty’s mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain’t nobody knows
All the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness, I suppose
The poets tell how Pancho fell
Lefty’s livin’ in a cheap hotel
The desert’s quiet and Cleveland’s cold
So the story ends we’re told
Pancho needs your prayers it’s true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do
Now he’s growing old
A few gray Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness, I suppose …


Songwriters: Townes van Zandt
Pancho & Lefty lyrics © Katie Belle Music, Will Van Zandt Publishing, Jtvz Music (T) 

I always thought this would have made a great movie.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

9 thoughts on “PANCHO AND LEFTY: EMMY LOU HARRIS – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Emmylou Harris is a regular each year at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park each year. She’s one of the headliners and her performance is always packed.

    Liked by 1 person

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