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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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  • 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.
  • 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!
  • U
    UnregisteredJun 5, 2012 at 6:40 am
    The story should be taken more literally than symbolically. A young american from a lower middle class background seeks a little adventure. He ends up traveling to old mexico, where become buddies with the young bandit pancho. Eventually, he needs a way out and snitches pancho off the federales, who give him some money allow him to return home.
    Back home, his lack of drive and ambition and the aging process conquer him. Maybe be he was a bit of blues singer, literally. But if he ever was, his probable heavy drinking and aging itself sap his stamina.
    Another story about the adventurous dreams of undereducated young men and ruin they usually lead to. If anything, a tale about social class in america.
  • U
    UnregisteredApr 23, 2012 at 2:27 am
    Pancho was a bandit. Lefty was his friend (his left hand). Pancho sort of looked out for lefty because he felt sorry for him. Lefty wasn't actually a singer but always down on his luck and telling his hard luck stories. A bandit has few friends -- pancho didn't need lefty but took pity on him and took care of him because of the companionship lefty offered. One night in the desert lefty decided he wanted the loot for himself and shot pancho in the back -- took the loot and split as far away as he could go -- ohio. He no longer tells his sad stories because of his guilt -- he doesn't feel he deserves sympathy because he murdered his friend.

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