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Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones song)

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"Wild Horses"
File:Wild Horses.JPG
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Sticky Fingers
B-side "Sway"
Released 12 June 1971
Format 7"
Recorded December 1969 – February 1970
Genre Roots rock, country rock, folk rock
Length 5:42
Label Rolling Stones Records
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones singles chronology

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Promo CD of Stripped version of "Wild Horses"
Promo CD of Stripped version of "Wild Horses"

"Wild Horses" is a song by The Rolling Stones from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Rolling Stone ranked it at No. 334 in its "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list in 2004.

Inspiration and recording

In the liner notes to the 1993 Rolling Stones compilation album Jump Back, Jagger states, "Everyone always says this was written about Marianne but I don't think it was; that was all well over by then. But I was definitely very inside this piece emotionally." Richards says, "If there is a classic way of Mick and me working together this is it. I had the riff and chorus line, Mick got stuck into the verses. Just like "Satisfaction". "Wild Horses" was about the usual thing of not wanting to be on the road, being a million miles from where you want to be."[1]

Originally recorded over a three-day period at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama during 2–4 December 1969 while Albert and David Maysles were shooting for the film that was titled Gimme Shelter, the song was not released until over a year later due to legal wranglings with the band's former label.[citation needed] Along with "Brown Sugar", it is one of the two Rolling Stones compositions from Sticky Fingers (1971) over which ABKCO Records co-owns the rights along with the Stones. It features session player Jim Dickinson on piano, Richards on electric guitar and 12-string acoustic guitar, and Mick Taylor on acoustic guitar. Taylor uses Nashville tuning, in which the EADG strings of the acoustic guitar are strung one octave higher than in standard tuning. Ian Stewart was present at the session, but refused to perform the piano part on the track due to the prevalence of minor chords, which he disliked playing.[2]

Music video

A music video, filmed in black and white was produced to promote an acoustic version in 1995.[3]

Release and legacy

Released as the second US-only single in June 1971, "Wild Horses" reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Although popular at the Rolling Stones' live shows, "Wild Horses" has been released on only one live album—in a reworked version on the 1995 acoustic/live album Stripped. This version was released as a single in 1996. The song appears on a handful of the Stones' concert DVDs: Bridges to Babylon Tour '97–98 (1998), Rolling Stones - Four Flicks (2004), and The Biggest Bang (2007).

In 2007, Jagger's ex-wife, Jerry Hall, named "Wild Horses" as her favourite Rolling Stones song.[4]

The song figures prominently in the films Adaptation (2002) and Camp (2003), as well as episodes of Parks and Recreation (Li'l Sebastian) and BoJack Horseman (Later). An instrumental version of the song is featured during the end credits of Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary film Shine a Light (2008).


Cover versions

Studio versions

The following artists have recorded "Wild Horses" in a variety of styles,

Prior to its release on Sticky Fingers, Gram Parsons convinced Jagger and Richards to allow him to record "Wild Horses" with his band The Flying Burrito Brothers.[citation needed] Gram Parsons and Keith Richards were roommates at the time in Nashville. The song was written by Mick and Keith in return for his having orchestrated the song "Country Honk" as it appeared on the album "Let it Bleed." This is discussed in Keith Richard's autobiography. It is also country rock legend. According to Keith's book, he expected to perform and record with Parsons but Parsons' death in 1973 ended those plans.

While the Rolling Stones had already laid the track to tape, the Burrito Brothers' version was actually the first to be released, appearing on their second album, Burrito Deluxe, in April 1970, one year before Sticky Fingers.

Leon Russell recorded the song in 1974 for his album Stop All That Jazz, and again in 1998 for the multi-artist tribute album Cover You: A Tribute to the Rolling Stones. Leon played piano on the original Burrito Brothers recording of the song on Burrito Deluxe.

The bluegrass band Old and in the Way released a version of the song on their 1975 debut album.

The song was prominently covered by British dream-pop group The Sundays, for the B-side of their 1992 single "Goodbye". This version was featured in the 1996 thriller film Fear, the CSI episode "Crash and Burn", the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Prom", and was released on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album compilation. The Sundays' cover was also used in a television advertisement for Budweiser beer in the mid-1990s, featuring slow-motion footage of galloping Clydesdale horses.

Otis Clay recorded the song for the 1997 tribute album Paint It Blue: Songs of the Rolling Stones.

A cover version by Neil McCarthy and Ivo Matos appeared on the 2011 album Paint It Black An Alt Country Tribute To The Rolling Stones.[5]

In 2009 Susan Boyle recorded a version as the opening track of her I Dreamed a Dream album.

Live performances

It has proven to be a popular live cover song for other artists. It has been covered by Susan Boyle, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals,[6] The Black Crowes, Deborah Harry, The Avett Brothers,[7] Garbage, Elvis Costello with Lucinda Williams, Neil Young, Gary Stewart, Old and in the Way, Leon Russell, Guns N' Roses, Johnny Goudie, Gregory Isaacs, Bush, Labelle, Robin Williamson, Jewel, Dave Matthews, Indigo Girls, Charlotte Martin, Kelly Clarkson, Chantal Kreviazuk, Molly Hatchet, Alicia Keys featuring Adam Levine, Tre Lux, Flowing Tears, Iron & Wine, Stone Sour, Honeytribe, Sheryl Crow, Deacon Blue, Elisa, Melanie Safka, John Barrowman, The Sundays, BlackHawk, The Lovemongers with Chris Cornell, Corey Taylor, Richard Marx with Jessica Andrews, Robert Francis, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Solveig Slettahjell. In 2007, Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps used the song for their field show, "Triple Crown", and Daniel Letterle sang it in the film Camp. Dave Matthews performed a live duet of the song with Jagger, backed by the Rolling Stones, on 12 December 1997 in St. Louis, Missouri (released officially on the Bridges to Babylon Tour live DVD). Aly Michalka covered the song in a Hellcats episode. Willie Nelson and the Nelson Family covered the song and issued a video to help the Animal Welfare Institute campaign to protect wild horses in America.[8]

On the first season of the American version of The X Factor in 2011, contestant Josh Krajcik performed a rendition of the song solo while playing the piano as his fifth live performance.

Haley Reinhart sang a version with Slash and Myles Kennedy at the 18th Annual Power of Love Gala for Muhammad Ali.

Cui Jian performed this song with the Rolling Stones during A Bigger Bang Tour in Shanghai, 2006.

The song was performed on the American television series The Voice by Sarah Simmons in 2013 and Bria Kelly in 2014.


  1. ^ "Wild Horses". Time Is On Our Side. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  2. ^ Wyman 2002. p. 482.
  3. ^ YouTube, Wild Horses The introduction indicates the session was recorded in Tokyo.
  4. ^ Odell, Michael (29 April 2007). "This much I know: Jerry Hall, actor and model, 50, London". The Observer. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Grace Potter live - Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones cover) - at Fabrik in Hamburg 2013-03-05". 
  7. ^ YouTube
  8. ^ "Willie & The Nelson Family Release "Wild Horses" Video to Help Raise Awareness for America’s Wild Horses". 

External links