“Merle hears it, Merle loves it, Merle goes in and does that last verse, which I think is a classic last verse of any Merle Haggard performance. Well, Merle goes to his bus, which is parked at Willie’s studio, he passes out. He gets up the next morning and walks in and goes ‘Hey Willie, what did we do last night? We recorded, what was that thing?’ Willie says, ‘We recorded the song called ‘Pancho and Lefty’ Townes Van Zandt wrote.’ Merle goes, ‘I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to do that. I wanna re-record it.’ And Willie goes, ‘Hoss, that’s already out of here on its way to New York. It’ll be on the radio next week.’” Nelson knew that Haggard might have some reservations about the recording, so he purposefully sent it off before his friend could object. Good thinking, Willie!
The music video was released for the song in 1983, depicting Willie Nelson as Pancho, and Merle Haggard as Lefty. Townes Van Zandt also appears in a supporting role. Willie’s daughter Lana (was the one that suggested the recording of the duet) and she directed the video.
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