Anybody who follows country music knows (or should know) the ballad of “Pancho and Lefty.”
The hit song was made famous by Merle andWillieback in 1983 (great story about that HERE), however it was also recorded by Emmylou Harris in 1976.
But it was actually written by one of the most iconic singers/songwriters the country music world has ever seen…
Townes Van Zandt.
His most well-known song, Van Zandt first recorded the tune for his 1972 album, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt.
This footage was taken from Heartworn Highways, a documentary film by James Szalapski that chronicled the life of artists like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, David Allan Coe, and more right around Christmas of 1975. The film was then finally released on 1981.
I mean it doesn’t get much more badass than this. Perhaps the best part of the video is at the beginning, when he takes the cigarette from his mouth and sticks it onto the end of his guitar, and then he begins to move everybody in the room with the amazing lyrics from the song. A later performance of “Waitin’ Around To Die” even put Uncle Seymour in tears.
You gotta respect the classics man. When your song influences the likes of other country kings like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, you know you’re doing something right.
And if you haven’t seen Heartworn Highways, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
“Pancho and Lefty”
“Waitin’ Around To Die”
And of course, the music video with Willie and Merle, featuring Townes himself.