“Pancho and Lefty” was a smash hit record for country outlaws Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in the 1980s. And this time, the 21st century, songwriting legend Kris Kristofferson and country crossover Darius Rucker put a new update to the song as they performed it in the White House.
On November 23, 2011, the White House opened the stage for country artists. The special program was called In Performance at the White House. For a day, the said show has turned the East Room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into a “country-music hall.”
Then President Barack Obama introduced the artists with a very catchy line:
“As Charley Pride, who played here two years ago, said, ‘There is enough room in country music for everybody.’”
Other country artists who performed during that day include bluegrass icon Alison Krauss, James Taylor, Lyle Lovette, Lauren Alaina, Dierks Bentley, and the Band Perry. Every artist had an equal chance to shine in the White House’s stage.
Going back to Kristofferson and Rucker’s duet, the younger artist can’t hide his respect and wonderment of the moment. He broke into a huge grin and gestured toward Kristofferson in the middle of the song. Rucker’s enthusiasm for sharing the stage with one of the greatest songwriters of all time brought a cheerful atmosphere in the hall.
Pancho and Lefty
Townes Van Zandt penned and first recorded “Pancho and Lefty” in 1972. The song’s story narrates the tale of two characters –a Mexican bandit named Pancho and an enigmatic man, Lefty. The song centers on friendship betrayal caused by wealth and possession. Lefty killed Pancho to get the reward from the Mexican Federales.
Many artists covered the song but Nelson and Haggard’s version was the most successful. In 2010, members of the Western Writers of America chose the tone as one of the Top 100 Western Songs of all time.