From the Archives: "All the Federales say..." (11/17/2017)

This one's for my brother.

This year, the first thing I did when I began thinking about playing Feste was to listen to female singer/songwriters --i.e. the shape that Feste was taking in my mind. Emmylou Harris was one of the first musicians I listened to. Outside of research for this play, I listen to her a lot. She is one of my mom's favorite musicians, and listening to her gives me that warm fuzzy happy feeling that I associate with my mother. This song, Pancho and Lefty, is one my brother's favorite songs (although he is partial to the Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard version). He talks about how the song reminds him of home --we grew up on the border of Texas and Mexico, as far South as you can get in the mainland United States. I cannot speak for him, but I had an exceptionally happy childhood and where we grew up is a large part of that. It seems odd, but hearing this incredibly tragic song, actually makes me happy. It reminds me of my brother, my parents, and my home, which is exactly why it made my Feste playlist. I want the music in the play -which is admittedly quite glum- to evoke that feeling in the audience.

Townes Van Zandt has said that he wasn't intentionally writing it about Pancho Villa, but that the that song came so out of the blue for him that he doesn't even feel he can take credit for writing it; it "came through" him. He talked about how he later found out details of Pancho Villa and his death and they eerily fit. This idea that the music "comes through" Feste and seems to fit the scenarios on stage both thematically and personally was a very compelling notion to me. Just like Townes, I want the audience to feel Feste singing songs that are inspired by something intangible that once on the other side are incredibly apt and poignant.


Popular Posts