Songs that lend a voice to the equestrian world in a way only music can.
A Tails Behind The Tunes Installment
So you think you know The Rolling Stones? Of course you do. They are the bad boys of the British Invasion; the quintessential rock stars that refuse to quit; and, most importantly to equestrians, the writers of that mother of all horse songs, “Wild Horses.” But, take just a moment to listen to this live version of “Wild Horses,” and consider whether this track is really rock ‘n’ roll.
If you allow yourself the thought, you’ll realize that this classic is more than just a little bit country. And if we dig a little deeper, the truth becomes indisputable. The story begins around the same time and with very much the same cast of characters as The Byrd’s equestrian tune, “Chestnut Mare” (read about that song here.)
The Stones went to see The Byrds perform in England in 1968 with Gram Parsons in the line up. Their brand of country-rock, and Parsons in particular, caught the attention of Rolling Stones’ guitar man, Keith Richards. Richards and Parsons became fast friends, and soon the Stones were spending a significant amount of time in the American south soaking up the country music heritage.
From 1968 to 1972, during an era now known as the “Golden Age” of their catalog, The Rolling Stones produced four albums, with songs like “Honky Tonk Women,” “Dead Flowers,” and “Wild Horses.” The country influence on these tracks is unmistakable. The extent to which Gram Parsons influenced each track, and “Wild Horses” in particular, is open to more debate.
Some argue that Parsons actually wrote “Wild Horses.” After all, he did record and release the song with his band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, a year before the Stones version. But Richard’s says in his autobiography that the song was written by Richards and Mick Jagger in return for Parsons having orchestrated the song “Country Honk” as it appeared on the 1969 album “Let it Bleed.” Take a listen to Parsons’ version and decide for yourself whether he’s singing his own song.
Whether The Rolling Stones went country for “Wild Horses,” or a true country icon, Gram Parsons, actually wrote the track, we equestrians, no matter our discipline, should at least acknowledge the fact that when we say we love “Wild Horses” we are embracing a taste of country music. And, it turns out, that’s not such a bad thing!