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Livin on the road my friend, is gonna 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 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
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 dyin 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 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'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 livin 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

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  • k
    kratos1963Mar 4, 2014 at 6:49 am
    This song is about the assassination of José Doroteo Arango Arámbula aka Francisco Villa aka Poncho Villa. Lefty, one of Poncho's men, betrayed poncho for money he received from a wealthy family seeking revenge for members killed by Poncho during the revolution. The Federals let lefty go because they feared Poncho and were glad to see him dead because he was a a hero to the poor and would have no trouble winning an election , or raising an army.
  • U
    UnregisteredMar 10, 2012 at 3:44 am
    Pancho and lefty are minor league hoods of the type that still hang around the mexico/texas border,even today. Lefty, who has a repatation as a blues singer,sells pancho out to the mexican rural police(federalies, a group renouned for itks curroption) who attempted to kill pancho,but pancho escaped. Leefty took the reward money(bribe) and drifed to ohio. Now heks older and dying and living with a guilty concinse.
  • U
    UnregisteredSep 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm
    Not to get too psychoanalytic, but Pancho and Lefty are the same person, Pancho representing youthful dreams of glory, and Lefty representing the realities of mortality and growing old.
  • i
    ih8lsuJun 25, 2012 at 3:28 am
    Lefty is telling this story to his son who is alot like him(which is why he is his mom's favorite) as a warning to give up his drifter ways. He and pancho were partners and lefty felt he had to betray him for some reason. The federales would have killed lefty because they liked pancho so he had to split. Lefty can't even enjoy singing the blues anymore due to guilt, so who suffered more?
  • U
    UnregisteredJan 22, 2012 at 8:56 am
    You got these lyrics wrong! In the first stanza, it's the federales let him hang around, not let him slip away! Pancho was hung--townes van zandt had even said so in interviews--they let him hang around, get it? In the last stanza--they only let him go so wrong, not long! Check your facts before posting errors, ok? Or just listen to the damn video--you'll hear townes say the correct words!

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