Sunday, July 5, 2009

Willie Nelson - Poncho and Left

I think as a species too many of us take progress for granted, and I mean that in every way possible. Go back fifty years and people thought marijuana was a form of Mexican chemical warfare and having long hair probably meant you were a communist and therefore Satan. Someone once said to me that Willie Nelson was the first ever popularly accepted pot smoker and hippie and after some time of thought I have to agree, I can think of no better diplomat for the gentle hippie ways more so than Willie.

You have to remember that Willie started his musical career in the mid 1950s; radical notions of legalizing marijuana and having long hair were frowned upon with contempt. Yet somehow this mellow songwriter managed to become a household name and loved by everyone. The average Willie Nelson fan ranged from radical left wing hippie, to conservative cowboy, to this day we see very few people pull off that kind of unique popularity.

Probably most famous for his “outlaw” brand of country music, the majority of Willie songs I personally enjoy do fall under that category. My dad’s favourite was always “Pancho and Lefty,” and I agree with him, it is my favourite too. My dad always said it was a great drinking song, and god damn it is.

Powerful moving lyrics in this ballad, it tells you just enough to understand the full story without actually having been told the whole story. Very well done, probably the best “outlaw” country song there ever was.

I think the lyrics are worth a read so here they are;

Living on the road my friend, is going keep you free and clean,
Now you wear your skin like iron,
Your breath as hard as kerosene.
You weren't your momma's only boy, but her favourite 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.
He 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, ah but that's the way it goes.
All the Federales say, they could've had him any day.
They only let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose.

Lefty he can't sing the blues all night long like he used too.
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've had him any day.
They only let him slip away out of kindness I suppose.

The boys tell how old Pancho fell, and Lefty's living in cheap hotels,
The desert's quiet, Cleveland's cold,
And so the story ends we're told.
Pancho needs your prayers it's true, but save a few for Lefty too,
He only did what he had to do, and now he's growing old.

All the Federales say, they could've had him any day.
They only let him go so long, out of kindness I suppose.

A few gray Federales say, they could've had him any day.
They only let him go so long, out of kindness I suppose.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly