80’s Country Spotlight: Pancho and Lefty (1983)
In 1983 Pancho and Lefty rode across the deserts of Mexico, up to the top of the country music chart and on into country music history.
Written by Texas songwriting legend Townes Van Zandt in 1972, he's quoted as saying:
"I realize that I wrote it, but it's hard to take credit for the writing, because it came from out of the blue. It came through me and it's a real nice song"
The song has been covered many times by artists such as Emmylou Harris, Hoyt Axton, Steve Earle, and Frank Turner. In fact, members of the Western Writers of America chose it as the 17th greatest Western song of all time.
But for millions of folks, it's Willie and Merle that have the definitive version. The title track from the album, the LP also contained another Top 10 hit, the much more somber 'Reasons To Quit'. And of course, these two friends went on to record more albums including their final album Django and Jimmie released in 2015. Merle Haggard passed away in April 2016.
And yes, on 'Pancho and Lefty' Merle only contributes vocals on the final verse. But what a final verse it is.
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