A Horse With No Name (Redux)(Redux)

Okay, okay … yeah, I’ve reduxed this one before, as it happens.  But … I’ve been trying to get the energy and motivation to get back into my music posts, and yesterday our friend Clive mentioned this one (I had a ‘toon on Jolly Monday that was a spin-off of the name of the song), and it immediately went … click click CLICK and took root in my mind!  Clive says it’s one of his favourites (in truth, I think Clive has over 3,000 favourites, but still …) and it’s also one of mine, so … bear with us and just have a listen, okay?  Annnnnndddd … I have added some trivia that was noticeably absent in the previous ‘duxes’ of the song!

The folk/rock group America originally consisted of three members: Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek.  They were all U.S. Air Force brats whose fathers were stationed in the UK.  A Horse With No Name, went on to top the American singles chart for three weeks in early 1972 and reached No.3 in the UK.  I like the song, and can actually remember most of the lyrics, but I have one question:  why didn’t the dude give the horse a name???

From SongFacts …

  • America was formed in England by sons of US servicemen who were stationed there. Lead singer Dewey Bunnell wrote “A Horse With No Name” when he was 19. Although the song is commonly misinterpreted about being on drugs, it is not: Bunnell based the images in the lyrics on things he saw while visiting the US.
  • This was originally titled “Desert Song,” since Bunnell wrote it based on the desert scenery he encountered when his dad was stationed at an Air Force base in Santa Barbara County, California.
  • The song tells a rather abstruse tale about a trip though the desert. While the landscape is unforgiving, the singer also finds comfort in that scenario.

According to Dewey Bunnell, the “horse” represents a means of entering a place of tranquility, and this tranquil place was best represented by the desert, which sounded pretty good to him while he was stuck in rainy England.
As for why the horse had no name and why it went free after nine days, Bunnell doesn’t have any answers – it seems the various listener interpretations are far more colorful than any meaning he assigned to it.

  • Many people thought this was a Neil Young song when they heard it, and many rock critics pointed out the similarities. In a strange twist, “A Horse With No Name” replaced Young’s “Heart of Gold” at #1 in the US.

    Dewey Bunnell explained that he was well aware that he sounded like Neil Young on this song, but claimed he wasn’t trying to imitate the singer. He told Rolling Stone in 1973: “I try to use a different voice so that I won’t be branded as a rip-off. It’s such a drag, though, to have to not sound like someone when you can’t help it in the first place.”

A Horse with No Name
America

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
La, la

After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red
After three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed
And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
La, la

After nine days I let the horse run free
‘Cause the desert had turned to sea
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
there was sand and hills and rings
The ocean is a desert with it’s life underground
And a perfect disguise above
Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
La, la

Songwriters: Dewey Bunnell
A Horse with No Name lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

29 thoughts on “A Horse With No Name (Redux)(Redux)

  1. I think it was a good move not to give the horse a name and let it go free, that somehow fitted in with the theme of being in that desert.
    As for sounding like someone else the great Tom Petty was advised he should sue some band for ripping off one of his songs, his laconic response was along the lines that despite anyone’s best efforts ‘these things’ just slip out and get into others songs….he did not take up the advice.

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  3. Just fab. One of my favourites too. (Though I don’t have 3,000). I might actually have played it on the guitar… badly. Never really was any good on the guitar…
    Thanks for the memories Jill.

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    • Awesome! Seems that it was a favourite of a lot of my friends! Heh heh … I played the guitar a bit in high school, but like you, I was never very good. I finally traded my acoustic guitar for money to buy baby formula and diapers a few years later. Glad you liked the song!

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        • Yep … I was born with significant hearing loss and finally accepted that I would never play at Carnegie Hall! In fact, when I was six years old, my mother enrolled me in piano lessons with a lady down the street who taught piano. After the first or maybe second lesson, the lady told my mother to NEVER bring me back, that I had absolutely no ear for music and no talent! I also tried my hand at art, but I have zero talent there, either. Hmmmmm … if I’m going to find something I’m good at, I need to get busy, yes? 🤣

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          • I remember your mentioned your hearing loss. And yet, you love music. You post lots of songs. So it’s not total loss, right? Maybe you don’t hear some details, but you can still enjoy the song right?
            And just by your posts there are a good many things you’re good at. (Analysis is one)
            Did you work? What in?

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            • I do love music, though I am never able to hear the lyrics, and unless I’m listening through my headphones, I can rarely hear the music anymore, either. No, it’s not a complete hearing loss, but over 90% as per my last visit with the audiologist several years ago. It’s interesting … I don’t talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to, but I can understand men most of the time and women rarely. I’ve heard of ‘selective hearing’, but sexist hearing??? Yes, I very much still enjoy the sons, the music. Funny story … I think the song was “All my life” and for years I thought the lyrics said “Help me Agnes, be my wife” until one day my daughter heard me singing it and told me it is “Hey, I’ve looked all my life”. Oops!

              Oh yes, I started working full-time at age 13 and with the exception of a few years taken off to have and raise young children, I worked all my life. I put myself through grad school working 3 jobs at a time! I worked as an accountant first in public accounting, which I hated, then in manufacturing accounting, and lastly I worked the last 15 years of my career as Finance Manager for a publishing company. Now, don’t laugh, but my Bachelor’s degrees are in Accounting and Political Science, my MA is in Political Science and International Relations. You can see where my interests lie, but … I had to make a living to feed my family, so I went for Accounting.

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              • Interesting. The good think is that you can find ways “around”. The earphones help? That’s good. Understanding men better than women simply means that you “filter” out higher frequencies.
                “Agnes be my wife?” LOL. Fact is now there are lyrics printed for everything that should help. Can you use any kind of hearing aids? I remember my father had one, but turned it off all the time because it was “too loud”. 🙄
                Accounting and political science is an uncanny combination. I’m glad you stayed with accounting, that was the “honest” part. 😉
                You did start early. 13? 👏🏻
                And you accomplished my dream: to work in a publishing company. (Which one?) After my MBA, I spent 3 months in New York trying to get a job in one. No dice. Crisis. When the money ran out, I went back to France. For a while.
                Take care Jill. 🤞🏻 for Monday.

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                • Oh yes, the headphones help immensely, I guess because they cancel out any surrounding noise, and they concentrate the sound directly into my ears. I still can’t understand most of the lyrics, or spoken words if I’m trying to watch a movie, but that’s where closed-captioning comes in handy.

                  I tried hearing aids once, but they only made things sound obnoxiously louder, not clearer. That was decades ago, and the audiologists said there wasn’t anything that would really help me. Since then, though, technology has come a long way and I understand that there may be hearing aids that would help a lot. I have a friend with the same situation, a fellow blogger, and he’s been trying them out for about a month now, so I’m very inclined to give it another shot … IF they can fit into my budget, for I am far from wealthy and most of my monthly income goes to buy my insulin and other medicines. Medicare might pay a portion — I have to check into it.

                  Ha ha … indeed it is an uncanny combination! I started out with a B.S. in Accounting, but in taking courses in history and poli sci to fulfill my general requirements, I fell in love with both. Alas, it wasn’t something that was going to put food on the table at that time, so I stuck with Accounting. Yes, I was an honest one and in fact got fired one time for refusing to report false numbers. It was a lucky day for me, for I went on to bigger and better things.

                  Yes, when I turned 13, my parents informed me it was time for me to ‘earn my keep’ and told me that if I didn’t get a job and pay rent, I could no longer live in their home. Nice, huh? But, in the long run it was a good thing, for I learned responsibility at an early age, whereas some people never did learn it! Plus, I had autonomy … a job, a car, and money!

                  Oh yes, the publishing company was my favourite of all my jobs! It was Standard Publishing. At the time, it had been in business for something like 140 years, but in the first part of the 2000s, it was bought by an investment company in New England and eventually, a couple of years after I left, was shut down, with bits ‘n pieces sold to other publishing companies. I think you would have loved it, and I’m surprised the company in New York didn’t at least give you a shot! Their loss.

                  Thanks, Brian! I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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                  • headphones would block out “white noise”. (I worked in the Telecoms industry a few years) Let your friend sort out the aids, then you can decide… 😉 Might be expensive, but if it works…
                    Accountants are an honest bunch overall. (Not like Politicos is what I meant. Now, of course some clients will ask for “creative accounting!”
                    Seems like you made the best of your parents’ ultimatum… 👍🏻
                    Late ’79 was crisis just about everywhere. I went to the new York Public Library every morning. I had my “office” there: comfortable public telephones with a bench to sit on. I had a bunch of dimes from the bank on 42nd. I’d spend all morning making calls to get interviews. I did get quite a few. But it was a lengthy process. Just ran out of money. I knew my mother in France would still feed me for a while. (I did go to a Bob Marley concert in Harlem. Great jive!) (Rastafarai!)

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                    • Yes, that’s the plan for now, to wait until he tests his out for a while, then see what I can do.

                      I have known some accountants who weren’t completely honest … that’s why I got out of public accounting, for we were expected to turn a blind eye to some of our clients … untruths. I worked too hard for that CPA license to throw it away so some rich dude could get even richer.

                      Well, you may not have gotten a job in the publishing industry, but it sounds like you had some fun while you were in NYC! And a Bob Marley concert … now that’s something to tell about. Do you know … I’ve never been to a concert in my life? Crowds … I have a problem with being in a crowded venue, especially with people screaming all around me, so I just never felt inclined to go to one!

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                    • Let’s see what he tells you.
                      I know. Some accountants, as in any profession, are crooks. In the end, everyone makes a decision right? Choose the right path or be a crook?
                      I enjoyed NT a lot. Still do every time I go. that concert was something. Smack in the middle of Harlem. 30% whites max. 50% grass in the air. A totally dilapidated theatre and the magic of Marley. One of his last concerts I think. He died only two years later.
                      I can understand the feeling. Crowds. Still, I have gone to quite a few “good” concerts when I was younger. Not’ny more.

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    • ♫ A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed ♫ Good grief … I can barely remember my own name, but I can remember the lyrics to Mr. Ed as if I had just heard them yesterday! And yesterday, I could remember the names of each actor who played on Gilligan’s Island! Something is not right … something is quite wrong with my mind these days! You’re right about the younger readers … even my 27-year-old granddaughter said, “Huh?” when I mentioned Mr. Ed. Glad this was one of your faves, too!

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      • Theme songs of that era I can remember the words to even when I wish I couldn’t, but the names of the characters I couldn’t remember even way back then, let alone the actors portraying them. The only exception seems to be when the title of a show included the name of one of the characters/actors. Hence Gilligan (Gilligan’s Island), Carol Burnett (The Carol Burnett Show), Mr Ed (Mr Ed), Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker (The Two Ronnies), etc.

        Horse with no name was one of those songs that “spoke to my condition” at the time, but especially because it’s one of those songs with a theme not related to love found/lost/yearned/betrayed. As to why the hose had no name, I have no idea, but I appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to remember it 🙂

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        • I always think it’s fascinating what we can remember clearly, when yesterday has already faded from our minds … or at least mine! Heck, I get up and go to the kitchen for a bottle of water, get distracted seeing a dish in the kitchen or the kitties bowl empty, take care of that, then come back to my chair, sans water. Sometimes it takes me three or even four tries to get back with the water! Yeah, that makes sense that you’re more inclined to remember shows with the main character’s name in the title! I have a friend here who has Asperger’s and often he can remember names and places that I can’t! And … he’s a computer genius, the first person I call when my computer acts up.

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