Sunday, December 18, 2005

I've been listening to Gillian's cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Poncho and Lefty"

Maybe one of the finest set of lyrics ever - so many open ended questions - what did Lefty do...did he sell out Poncho? Sure feels like it... Townes just said it wasn't about Poncho Villa - but he said the Pope and the President were in town the night he wrote it - LOL -

Only real agreed upon fact is that first line - I agree with Steve Earle - I think that Townes wrote the first lines about himself.


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 boys
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


At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the song actually is about Pancho Villa. If you read the history, the song matches up very well. Villa was pursued over many years by the federales (Mexican federal soldiers) for his revolutionary activities against the Mexican president. As far as Lefty, I can't find any info as to who lefty was. In a famous photo, Villa's counterpart in Southern Mexico, Zapata (Zapatistas today!) was pictured on his left at a famous meeting when they took Mexico City. That would be a stretch though.


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