Songs that lend a voice to the equestrian world in a way only music can.
A Tails Behind The Tunes Installment
In this week’s 100% Sound, I give you the second installment in the series I’m officially naming The Tails Behind The Tunes. The first column uncovered the motivations and inspirations behind America’s “A Horse With No Name.” In case you missed it, you can get the full story here.
Next up is “Another Horsedreamer’s Blues.” It’s fairly obvious why this Counting Crow’s tune is a stand out for me. “She’s tryin’ to be a good girl and give ’em what they want. But Margery’s dreaming of horses…” sings frontman Adam Duritz repeatedly. Just have a listen for yourself to this track from the 1996 album Recovering The Satellites:
At first pass, these lyrics seems to tell a highly metaphorical tale of a young woman trapped in a world of races horses, pill-popping behaviors, and disappointing families. But actually the truth behind these allusions is far less complicated. The surprising source of Counting Crow’s inspiration on this track is the Sam Shepard play Geography of a Horse Dreamer.
Mr. Shepard’s unusual play from 1974 involves a young man named Cody who is kidnapped by gangsters thanks to his unique ability to predict the winners of horse races in his dreams. He is kept drugged up on pills so he can dream constantly and make the mob a great deal of money. It’s pretty clear that little Margery and this Cody fellow have a great deal in common.
So why are Mr. Duritz and Mr. Shepard really expending their energy on these horse dreamers? Surprise, surprise! Both are making extended analogies to the manipulation and abuse suffered by artistic talent. Those gangsters are really just patrons and the public demanding that they always create more work for their entertainment and economic gain.
While that may be the true tale behind this song, it has always been my firm belief (and actually I’ve heard Adam Duritz say the same), that once a song is released its interpretation no longer belongs to the artist alone. Rather each listener breathes new life into the lyrics based on their own experiences.
With that in mind, I think we literal horse dreamers can find more in this song than its creators intended. If we do have the blues, then it’s probably because spending time with horses makes you far more adventurous and independent than the good little girl or boy you are expected to be. But don’t cry about it. Embrace it! And keeping on “dreaming of horses…”