Seven Spanish Angels: Romance, Violence and Absolution in the West

Willie Nelson and Ray Charles (screencap of a live performance)

“Seven Spanish Angels” When I pick up the guitar to sing, I like to launch into the long ballads. The melody sinks in to me through repetition. The lyrics, many refined over time by unknown self-appointed editors, flow out. If I’m lucky, I discover something new inside them. I let … → read more

I’m looking for my fortune and it ain’t in Illinois

Pancho’s Stepchildren“Pancho and Lefty” has been a foray into a more Western genre of murder ballad, building on Pat’s discussion of “Jack Straw,” I suppose.  The Wikipedia entry on murder ballads cites Olive Burt’s 1958 article, “The Minstrelsy of Murder,” which noted that the American West put a distinctive mark on … → read more

Outlaws, Bandits, and Troubadours

Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt After such a long post last time, I plan for this one to be long on music and short on text.  If there’s a narrative to capture here, it’s that I think “Pancho and Lefty” has become a favorite for singer-songwriters and performers following … → read more