Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Lyrics & their meaning Part 9- A Horse with no name

This continuing story of song lyrics and their meaning in some of the worlds best loved songs.

A Horse With No Name- America (1972)

This is one song that the writer admitted at the time of release that it was about nothing, but changed it to a different kind of nothing years later.
The band AMERICA is full of contradictions. The bands founding members; Lee “Dewey” Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek were all sons of U.S Air Force personnel, who by the time they met in England were seasoned world travellers.
Here was a band formed in England by American citizens who were ineligible for the draft during the Vietnam war even though the U.S military were paying their parents wages.
They were no doubt a talented crew, being picked up by Warners Record Label while still teenagers. And in 1971 recorded their first album, the self titled AMERICA.
The band were not named after their country of origin but of an old Americana juke box in a coffee shop the frequented.
The album was critically hailed but didn’t shift many units, their live performances keeping the public interested. This lack of record sales didn’t deter Warners though and the label continued to push the band getting support gigs with such diverse acts as Elton John, Pink Floyd and The Who. They were the first band featured on the classic television show case “ The Old Grey Whistle Test”.
Five months after the release of the album, in a display of faith not usually attributed to record companies, the band was sent back to the studio to record extra songs to find a single to spark interest in the album.
One of these songs was a track originally titled “ the Desert Song” . It was changed to “ A Horse With No Name” after the band was asked to change it because it was the same title as an old musical.
The song was included as an extra track on the re-released album and as the next single to an unsuspecting world and what would be a reward for the faith shown by the label.
“ A Horse with no name” went onto become one of the biggest songs of 1972, and with it the album sales followed. It reached No.1 in the U.K and U.S in both single and album charts.
The song was unfavourably compared to something in the Neil Young vein, whose song Heart of Gold incidentally was knocked from the top spot on the US charts by the song.
When challenged about the songs meaning Bunnell the songs writer admitted it was about nothing the classic words , tune , melody mix was just what people were attracted to.
© 2005 Shidot Prod.

1 comment:

V. B. Purcell said...

Here I thought the song was just another trippy hit fest.

Thanks for the info