One of the most popular musical genres in the world, especially in the United States, is country. Country is, however, a broad term, and is often broken down into many different subgenres, with outlaw country being just one example. Also known simply as ‘outlaw music,’ this genre has its origins in swing and honky-tonk music but didn’t really develop until the 60s. Outlaw country is characterized by deep lyrics, country instruments, and a mixture of rock and folk rhythms, with the term ‘outlaw’ being used to describe the artists themselves, who often led outlaw-style lives out on the road.
Pancho and Lefty by Townes Van Zandt
It’s almost impossible to talk about outlaw country with mentioning Townes Van Zandt, and it’s almost impossible to talk about Townes Van Zandt without mentioning Pancho and Lefty. This song actually became more popular when Willie Nelson covered it later on, but the original is an undisputed classic.
The song follows the story of a couple of Mexican outlaws on a fascinating and moving tale, told in a little under four minutes. Van Zandt’s emotional singing style really brings this iconic hit to life and simple lines like “Save a few for Lefty too” live long in the memory.