At the first-ever Austin City Limits Hall of Fame presentation ceremony, inductee Willie Nelson performed “Pancho and Lefty,” the Townes Van Zandt tune he recorded with Merle Haggard in 1983, with another set of country legends: Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett. The performance will air this weekend as part of Austin City Limits’ season finale, but the song is now available to watch via PBS.
Harris had just sung the Nelson-penned Patsy Cline hit “Crazy,” and she stuck around onstage as Nelson introduced “Pancho” as “one of the best songs ever written.” Harris rejoined, “Amen.” Lovett surprised Nelson, who grinned as the honoree laughed and said, “Glad to have you, Lyle,” laughing along with the audience. Harris took the first verse, while Lovett took the second, and all three harmonized on the chorus.
The performance was just one of many star-studded numbers from the ceremony, held last April, that will air on February 14th. Along with Nelson, the Hall of Fame inducted Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Accordingly, the first half of the program features the Nelson-led set with Lovett and Harris joining in on tunes like “On the Road Again” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.” The second, Vaughan-focused half finds the likes of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Doyle Bramhall II, Robert Randolph and Buddy Guy performing tunes like “The House Is Rockin’,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Let Me Love You, Baby.” The evening ended with an all-star performance of the Vaughan staple “Texas Flood.”
Nelson’s guitar “Trigger” was recently the subject of an in-depth Rolling Stone documentary streaming online. “Roy Rogers had a horse called Trigger,” he explained. “I named my guitar Trigger because it’s kind of my horse.”