Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pancho and Lefty ~ Townes Van Zandt

About a month ago, I learned a song called Pancho and Lefty, by Townes Van Zandt. It's a pretty odd song when you first hear it. You think "What the heck is this about?" I am going to tell you. First, read the lyrics down below to maybe get just a little bit of the story and meaning. The story is told in more detail after the lyrics.

“Pancho And Lefty”

Verse #1

Living on the road my friend, was gonna keep you free and clean, Now you wear your skin like iron, And your breath’s as hard as kerosene,You weren’t your mama’s only son, But her favorite one it seems, She began to cry when you said goodbye, And sank into your dreams. Pancho was a bandit boys, his horse was fast as polished steel, wore his gun outside his pants, for all the honest world to feel, Pancho met his match ya know, on the borders down in Mexico, nobody heard his dying words, but that's the way it goes.


All the Federales say, they could have had him any day, they only let him hang around, out of kindness I suppose.

Verse #2

Lefty 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 old Pancho low, Lefty left for Ohio, where he got the bread to go, ain't nobody knows.


All the Federales say, they could have had him any day, the only let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose.

Verse #3

Now the poet's sing how Pancho fell, Lefty's livin' in a cheap hotel, the border's quiet and Cleavland's cold, so the story ends we're told, Pancho need's your prayers it's true, save a few for Lefty to, he just did what he had to do, now he's growin' old.


All the Federales say, they could have had him any day, they only let him go so wrong, out of kindness I suppose.


Yes a few old gray Federales say, they could have had him any day, they only let him go so long, out of kindness I suppose.

My Mom and I and other sources say that the story is one of betrayal. The story is that Pancho was a bandit in Mexico who robed banks and trains. Lefty was his sidekick who helped set the robberies into place. The Federales were the Mexican federal police, who would offer a reward of say 1,500 pesos to whoever finds and brings Pancho to them, most likely a Dead or Alive situation. Lefty looks at the reward and says to himself "You know, I'm kinda tired of being in Pancho's shadow, plus I could do with a bit more money." Pancho and Lefty figure out their next robbery, then Lefty goes to the Federales and says "Hey, if you guys want to catch Pancho, here's where he is going to be." Pancho goes to the robbery and gets caught and hung on a noose. When they put Pancho in his coffin, Lefty said "I'm out of here" and went to Cleavland, Ohio. A long while later, Lefty is an old man, who still has the guilt of betraying his friend and turning him over to the Federales. All in all, it is a very sad story and if you listen to the Townes Van Zandt original version of the song, you can here the sorrow in his voice, almost as if it's Lefty singing the song.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

BB King

A great man has left us. On May 14th, 2015, Riley B. King, BB King, known as the King of the Blues, died at the age of 89 in his home in Las Vegas. 

This man has been a great influence on me, and was one of the men who made me want to play guitar when I was 7.
BB King, was born in 1925 in the Mississippi Delta. When he was about 8 or 9 years old, his mother and father separated. BB went to his Grandmother after his mother died of diabetes. He went to church, and the Reverend came in with an electric guitar. Sometimes, when the Reverend was at BB’s grandma’s house, BB would play that guitar. At twelve years old, he got his first guitar for $15.00. Later on, he played around the Mississippi Delta and became known as the Blues Boy, or BB. He got a band together called the BB King Review, filled with horns, a drummer, a pianist, and another guitarist. 

He made a lot of famous songs, such as “Everyday I Got the Blues”, “The Thrill is Gone”, and “Rock Me Baby”, and has played with many famous people such as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.
In 1949, he played at a dance hall with his $30 Gibson. To keep the heat in the hall, there were barrels of kerosene being burned, a common practice at the time. Two men were fighting and toppled a burning barrel over and caught the building on fire. BB rushed outside, and then remembered he had left his guitar in there. He went back in and got the guitar out. He then found out the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named the guitar he had and all further guitars Lucille to remind him not to fight about women and don’t do anything stupid like going back in a burning building for a guitar. 

In the late 80’s and the 90’s, BB King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. On January 4th, 2013, my mom and I saw him live at the Sunrise Theater in Ft. Pierce Florida. I still have the ticket stubs and some BB King guitar picks from the experience. BB was still touring in early 2015, but had to cancel the rest of his 2015 tour, because he had diabetes and blood pressure problems. Later on, he was in hospice care, which meant that he was tired of all the medication and doctors, and if he’s going to go, he’s going to do it in the comfort of his own home, with the people and things he loved. On the night of May 14th, 2015, BB King passed away peacefully in his sleep. The thrill is gone, but if there’s a rock and roll Heaven you know they got a Hell of a band, and that band just got a Hell of a lot better.  Thank you BB. Rest in peace, man. Rest in peace.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Seersuckers, Sculptures and the Sculptor

Monday, March 31st, 2015, 4:00 PM: I was sitting on my stool playing CountryRoads on my guitar, when, suddenly I heard a knock on the front door. My Lands'End Seersucker Suit had arrived. Earlier that month, I had been invited to a performance at the new Geoffrey Smith Gallery. It was a cocktail party, so, I had to get something a bit formal. My dad suggested a Seersucker suit, with a white shirt and black tie. My mom ordered the suit, while my dad and I got the shirt, tie, and dress shoes. The suit arrived, and I put it on to see if it would fit. It was a bit too big, so, dad and I went to Hometown Cleaners andTailors, and asked for it to be altered a little. The tailor, Miss Esther, was a very nice lady and very funny. 

 Tuesday, April 7th, 2015, 5:15 PM: After a guitar lesson with JonathanCummings, dad and I went back to the tailor to retrieve the suit. It fit perfectly. We took it home, and mom took some pictures of me in the full suit, shirt, tie, and everything, and Rose, my Zager guitar. The next day, I practiced the set-list with just the jacket, to make sure I could still play with the long sleeves on the jacket. Everything was going great.

Thursday, April 9th, 2015, 4:45 PM, Performance Day: I was getting ready to go perform, putting on my suit, putting Rose in her guitar case, and saying hi to mom. It was only a few yards from our house to the gallery, but, we took the van anyway. We got set up, and then, people came in. I started playing for half an hour, and then stopped. Then, Geoffrey gave a speech about his creations. He was the one that built the big sailfish in the fountain in the middle of downtown Stuart. I played for another half hour, and then, Dad went home with the guitar, and mom and I stayed. There were a couple kids there, and they made their own VIP for kids section in one of the rooms. One of the girls gave me a small box that said “You are a VIP. Please come to the room with the VIP sign.” I went in the room, talked with the kids, and went home. We had awesome rock star pizza, watched Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hobgoblins, and then I went to bed.

Three tunes from the performance:


Friday, April 3, 2015


by, Fletcher Morton

 Vincent Van Gogh was born March 30th 1853 and died July 29th 1890. Cause of death was suicide. He was only 37. Some of his best pictures include self-portraits, Starry Night, and The Potato Eaters. The pictures right before his death were surprisingly his best.

I am learning a song about Vincent Van Gogh by Don McLean called Vincent. 

Verse 1

Starry, starry night, Paint your palette blue and gray, Look out on a summer’s day, with eyes that know the darkness in my soul, Shadows on the hills, sketch the trees and the daffodils, catch the breeze and the winter chills, in colors on the snowy linen land.

Now I understand, what you tried to say to me, how you suffered for your sanity, how you tried to set them free, they would not listen they did not know how, perhaps they’ll listen now.

Verse 2
Starry, starry night, flaming flowers that brightly blaze, swirling clouds in violet haze, reflecting Vincent’s eyes of china blue, colors changing hue, Morning fields of amber grain, weathered faces lined with pain, are soothed beneath the artists loving hand.

Now I understand, what you tried to say to me, how you suffered for your sanity, how you tried to set them free, they would not listen they did not know how, perhaps they’ll listen now.

For they could not love you, But still your love was true, And when no hope was left in sight, on that starry, starry night, you took your life as lovers often do, But I could have told you, Vincent, This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

Verse 3
Starry, starry night, portraits hung in empty halls, frameless heads on nameless walls, with eyes that watch the world and can’t forget, like the strangers that you’ve met, the ragged men in ragged clothes, the silver thorn of bloody rose, lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

Now I think I know, what you tried to say to me, and how you suffered for your sanity, how you tried to set them free, they would not listen, they’re not listening still, perhaps they never will.

 Meanings of the song:
“Look out on a summer’s day” was said by Vincent while he was in an insane asylum.
“Flaming flowers that brightly blaze” is reference to a picture of sunflowers in a vase.
“Swirling clouds in violet haze” is reference to Starry Night.
“Weathered faces lined with pain” is reference to The Potato Eaters.
“You took your life as lovers often do” is Vincent’s suicide.

The entire last chorus is Don understanding Vincent’s condition and why he was poor and institutionalized, because nobody understood what the paintings were or their meaning.
Don McLean wrote the song as an argument that Vincent wasn’t insane. He got the thought in his head and then wrote the lyrics on a paper bag. The song is so sweet and beautiful that it elicits an emotional response in the listener. 

This song requires finger picking all the way through. It's a challenging song for me. 
I really like it and hope that you do too.