The Origins des the Iconic, Enigmatic Anthem, in His own Words

that one of the many famously mysterious lied ever kommen sie become a hit. It’s gott enigma baked right into it, which may be part of its lasting magic. Choose Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood,” and other good though cryptic songs, the doesn’t fill an the whole picture, leaving the instead hoch to the listener kommen sie do the on your own. All of its contents enhance this dynamic des hypnotic mystery. There’s die swampy/mystic tone of the track, ethereal yet visceral, nur acoustic guitars, bass and conga with no drums. Ns vocal ist delivered as if native a storyteller spinning in ancient mythic tale, not performing as viel as testifying, and in language the resounds choose coded poetry. We’re an motion ns entire time, days are passing, and the heat ist relentless. Elemental signs are almost everywhere like bildern from a perplexingly ja wirklich dream – a dry riverbed, appointed v plants und birds und rocks and things, and incessant sound.

And, des course, there’s that mysterious horse, ns one v no name, which go forever force ns question: Why? Why didn’t anyone benennen this horse? an search des answers, we turned to ns songwriting resource himself, Dewey Bunnell, that spoke kommen sie us on ns phone tonnage week, ns final week of March, 2020, hinweisen the start of die mandatory stay-at-home orders in California.

Dewey was one third von America, through Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek. All three wrote songs, play guitar, und harmonized beautifully. Gerry created “Sister gelb Hair,” and “I need You.” Dan wrote “Don’t Cross the River,” “Lonely People” und others. Und Dewey’s die guy behind some of their many enigmatic and yet anthemic songs, consisting of “Tin Man,” “Ventura Highway,” and “Horse v No Name.” emergence left the band an 1977, hinweisen which time Dewey and Gerry elected not to change him, but zu go out together America on their own, in addition to a backing band. “We’re ns Fab Two,” together Dewey said.

He was at home an Los angeles when us spoke. When notfall on the road, he and his wife split their time between this house and one in the Northwoods des Wisconsin. They’ve got many cats, a dog, and a horse. The horse’s name, that said, is Noname. America was nur about to anfang a two-week operation when ns virus scare escalated und forced them to change their plans. Deswegen before delving into ns roots des this secret song, Dewey speak about ns impact von this stay-at-home policy on life an the Fab Two.



“Yes, we space on lockdown,” Dewey said. “We made a decision on ns evening von March 11th, after flying out to Columbus, Ohio zum a show in Huntington, west Virginia. We had our gear, the band und crew in a hotel, and realized we’d been putting our head bei the sand end this deal. We were encountering nine shows bei all over the two hauptsächlich period, und we realized that we had much better pull the plug ~ above this weil das a while, to lakers how severe this zu sein getting.

Du schaust: A horse with no name lyrics

“We flew home the next day, march 12th, and have been an our homes ever since. Ns day after we flew home, ns national emergency was announced, and then every little thing started caving in. Every our various other shows were postponed. “We feel favor we made the right decision. We made a publicly announcement kommen sie our fans that die shows had to be postponed. ~ all, our demographic audience is bei their 60s, or 60-plus. So the entirety thing included up zu us gift part of the problem, instead of the solution. We’re glad that we did it punkt the end of ns day. “Right jetzt doing okay. I’m below with my wife. We’re doing jigsaw puzzles, watching TV, eating auch much. We’re probably spending much more time through our pets. We oase a horse und a dog and four cats. You look at the upside, right?

“Plus, it’s a common experience. Everybody zu sein doing it. We know that. It’s one von those times bei our history that we’ll remember.”

The sad news of the death des producer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger indigenous the covid hit Dewey hard, as America had actually worked very closely with him. “We space mourning die loss des Adam Schlesinger,” that said. “He was a friend, and he developed our Here & Now album back an 2007, along with james Iha. It’s really been a shock. We are big fans of the music made über Fountains von Wayne, und we walk some mirrors with them rückseitig then. It’s an extremely sad news.”

There ist one unexpected optimistic this long-time touring musician discovered an the midst von this recurring solitude: a rarely sense of peace, something he hadn’t known bei decades; a license to be still, through nowhere the needed zu go.“My mind and body,” the said, “seem always geared up zum travel, motion, moving, acquiring somewhere, pack a suitcase. One von the strangest sachen about this quarantine ist that this ist really in abrupt stop. Notfall a bad abrupt stop; it’s a nice neu experience.

“But the a new experience, being here. It’s carried that feeling to a stop, that emotion that I’ve gott to get ready, gott to go an 48 hours, got to record a flight, gott to obtain my wash done. “Instead of all that, I tun können just be.”

Dewey Bunnell und his horse Noname. Photo von Penny Bunnell.

“Horse with No Name”

It’s a lied that came quickly, together he remembers, “all in one fell swoop.” so immediate was its development that Dewey wasn’t certain what that had, und even if it was worth recording, or have to be relegated to ns novelty das lied bin. Never ever did he think about it fight material, or a song that would come to be a absent standard und for i m sorry he’d be famous forever. However “Horse with No Name,” i beg your pardon vividly introduced ns barren desert landscape von the southwest into famous song lang before ns Eagles, james Taylor und others walk it, was never easy zu understand. Even zum its songwriter. From its inception, the seemed kommen sie take ~ above a life des its own. It’s something which hasn’t ever stopped, und extends to now. Released in late 1971 overseas and early 1972 bei America, the went to ns top des the charts. But never was it a fly-away hit, beloved during the season of its creation however ultimately forgotten and abandoned. Instead, it’s come to be one of those songs with in appeal that has actually incrementally increased over the years. Never has it been lacking from radio, ns culture, or our memories, zum long. That it’s do a lasting cultural impact zu sein undeniable; evidence des this is everywhere always, most recently just days ago, in a viral videobilien posted by a couple an quarantine an Amsterdam. Mara van Nes and her friend Sem Jonkers supplied their isolation creatively, and acted out die song bei their very own way. Fairly than oppose such comic usage, Dewey und the maßband fully take on it, und posted ns video on the official America fans site, which driven it ~ above its viral flight.

The origins von this iconically mysterious tale von the American Southwest von a band named America began, together did the group itself, an England. Bunnell, Beckley und Peek were every bonded by heritage and location, ns sons von airmen in the U.S. Air pressure stationed an London. That there that this story take away place.

DEWEY BUNNELL: The song was borne out of pure boredom. Ich had just graduated high school in London, and my family members moved up zu Yorkshire, whereby my mother was from. I wanted zu stay in London, dafür I moved into die home of a friend and his family.

America hadsigned with Warner Brothers and had a record out. We had actually been record andwere in full gear, play shows und recording.

I wrote the lied alone bei this guy’s bedroom that ich shared. I wrote that all bei one fell swoop. I wrote it bei a pair hours.

I didn’t question the song. Ich felt favor it all of sudden appeared, favor waking up bei a dream. It was a dream of being on a horse and realizing that ich don’t even know the nennen of this horse. Und there was serious heat. I remember acquiring sunburned severely as a kid and it was on a beach. That wasn’t in the desert. But ich guess in my mind’s eye, i was thinking, “I’m ~ above this horse, I’m going somewhere, who knows where? ich don’t understand the nennen of die horse. Maybe ich didn’t even have a jawohl on.”

Do notfall underestimate the concept of trying kommen sie find rhyme. “I invested three days bei the desert sun, my skin began zu turn red, i was looking punkt a riverbed.” had actually it been the other method around, ich probably wouldn’t have kommen sie up with the sunburnt thing.

I mental that i did oase visuals for that riverbed. I have a picture bei my mind von my brother und I, wie man we used kommen sie hike around the desert an the sagebrush. This was when my dad was stationed punkt Vandenberg wait Force bei California, a basic that was out bei the middle des nowhere, up über Santa Maria, California. We would hike approximately that a lot. There to be a lot of dried gulleys. It was more of a California bereich that i was referring kommen sie than the Arizona-type desert. But ich do remember mine brother and I always hiking out kommen sie this one spot und down this dried riverbed. Hoch on die side of the dry walls, occasionally there’d be feet dug an there über animals. Ich remember we found some owls bei one von those holes bei the bank of ns dry riverbed.

There’s a gewächs of motion in the song. That’s something ich can’t gain away from bei my songs. I’ve had actually a lot of travel experiences and those are die things that acquire branded an your brain. Yes motion, and there’s a progression. Und by the ende of ns song ich let ns horse run free. I wasn’t sure why, but it seemed right. It’s appeared it was time to let go des the horse and to move on.

If there was a next verse, it most likely would schutz been, “Getting in a boat.” but the das lied was already lang enough.

It wasn’t referred to as “A equine With No Name” though. It was called “The Desert Song” then. And it was nur thrown right into a pile von other songs. Wie man I erste brought it to Gerry und Dan, and we were playing it, i really assumed it was almost a novelty song.

I composed it an open-D tuning. I started exploring with the after hearing. David Crosby and Joni Mitchell,who to be using offen tunings. Und we were absolutely immersed in their songwriting. It’s open-D tuning, where freundin tune the es down kommen sie D. But ich did a wenig different thing where ich tuned the A all the way down kommen sie E. The was ns only time ich ever used it. Ich was just sitting there tuning it down and it sound good. Ich was bored, nur trying kommen sie make various sounds come out von that guitar.

The zuerst album was already in full swing. We hadn’t choose a single yet, however we to be keying an on “I require You” (by Gerry) kommen sie be the zuerst single. At that time, sie wanted a single to lead die way through your album. “I need You” was certainly going zu be that. It was a an excellent song, almost a standard. The still is. It was covered über lots of people over the years.

So we had actually oursingle. However Warner brother said, “Have you gott any more?”

We hadfour songs at the point, and we went zu a wenig studio to demo them, whichwas bei the Islington farmhouse. That’s wherein we tape-recorded the zuerst version des “TheDesert Song. “

WhenWarner heard it, they said, “Hey, us really choose that. Let’s recordthat.”

At that point, ourrecordings were nur the three des us sitting around a room with our voices andour acoustic guitars. Dan or Gerry would play bass. When we gott into thestudio, there was some overdubs. We placed conga ~ above this, und Gerry play thesolo on a 12-string guitar.

Ian Samwellproduced the record. It ist very close to our demo; ns sound was there. But Ianwas certainly die overseer, and he had a big impact.

I blieb didn’t oase the title. Weist that time, ich would nur name the lieder anything ich liked. I had “Moon Song,” “Rainbow Song,” “Pigeon Song.” but as us were honing this das lied down, ian said, automatically “Well, dude, you must call this ‘Horse through No Name.’ ”

And ich said,“Sure, that’s fine.” i didn’t blink.

As it was, it did have a better ring than “The Desert Song.” to add he discussed that there was apparently in opera referred to as “Desert Song.” us didn’t want to schutz any confusion.

America, “Horse with No Name.”

I mental the zuerst time we played “Horse through No Name” live, us were opening for Traffic. The was ausblüten “Desert Song,“ then, und my mom heard it weil das the zuerst time. She said, “I execute like that steed thing.” various other people, too, stated “That song about ns horse was a good one.” I am glad we used that title. Dafür many human being think that mysterious. Here it is, nur about 50 year later, and people still say, “I feel deswegen sad weil das that horse. Why didn’t you give that horse a name?” They actually get emotional about it.

But ich foundmystery is good weil das a song. Ich think that good to leave something zu theimagination of the listener. It’s the way bei a last of songs. I’m an extremely visual,and i like zu create a rigid that ist visual. That’s part des my life,because nature, and the outdoors, all des it was really important kommen sie us. Because von moving approximately a lot in themilitary, the one continuous my brother und I had was always zu go the end hiking, goingto ns woods, to ns swamp, the desert, whatever die environment von outdoorlife was that us had. Since we didn’tknow any other kids. So it was a great sense des solace.

Plus us werevery excited und curious around plants und animals – as in the song, “plants andbirds and rocks and things.” us would capture snakes and lizards. Ich like tocreate that imagery of outdoors. Climate you tun können fill in all ns blanks and maybesee die picture in your very own mind.

Dewey & Noname. Photo von Penny Bunnell.

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I loved ns desert. Moving approximately all ns time, i wasn’t used to it. Mine dad’s older brother lived in New Mexico. We’d pushed across the Southwest one other time, und I remember lang stretches with the vanishing point, every those iconic classic looks of ns desert. This was in the Sixties und things weren’t that developed up. There to be billboards und stuff, but it was ausblüten very vast…

I’d checked out pictures des cactus. The seemed so exotic kommen sie me. So getting out of the car hinweisen rest stop or nur pulling off the side von the road, walking out an that and just having actually that heat hit you, it was something. The first time i ever experienced a grausam cactus was amazing. I just loved ns desert. The left a huge mark on me. It ausblüten does. There’s that totality concept von being isolated und alone with your thoughts. There’s a feeling des comfort wie man it’s nur you.

Some of the lyrics of “Horse with No Name” were a wenig clumsy bei a lot of those lines. I wrote that song an maybe two hours at die most, and most des the lyrics, i didn’t even change after die fact. Ich was neu to songwriting und this was nur pouring out des me and that was the theme i wanted to try und project, that imagery.

The grammar zu sein based specifically on practically a character’s voice that would certainly convey the a wenig better 보다 a appropriate sounding voice. That line “there ain’t no one zum to give freundin no pain.” I’ve never ever used that kind of dialect. Us lived in Biloxi, Mississippi and there was occasion v a deeper southern accent und then bei Nebraska, freundin might obtain some farmer guys that might say, “Ain’t no one zum to,” or something prefer that. It was purely one more colorful way kommen sie express something, favor taking top top a character.

But that kind oflanguage works well bei a song. Like “ain’t gott no satisfaction.” the conveyssomething a wenig more practically, since it kann sein sound clinical or sterilewhen freundin really placed together a perfectly well-constructed sentence without someemotion bei there.

So this ist allpart of this lineage von this song after all this time. I’ve read and heard andbeen called many sachen over the years around it, und it’s always great kommen sie thinkthat it come as a little seed sitting in that bedroom once, alone, to be ableto communicate dinge to human being that castle relate to. I’m really an extremely proud ofthat.

It’s true thesong got banned from radio at one time due to the fact that people claimed it was about heroin,which sometimes was called ‘horse.’ that was news to me. Living in England, Idon’t ever recall that term. Ich think it was more of an American term. The mighthave to be smack or dope or H.

I schutz tobelieve some junkies out there listening to it went, “Hey man, this dudeis like me. He’s one von us!” Everybody has their imagination about whatbands oase been doing. Add to those were the days wie drugs were a little morerampant und stuff was going down.

There’s every kinds von funny things that world thought it was about drugs. Sure, over there was pot smoking and stuff going, und we were young males experimenting. Yet there was no heroin or difficult drugs or anything like that going on. One von my favorite quotes ist from Randy neulinge when the said, “That song ist about a guy who thought he did acid.” We always like quoting Randy on that one.

Sure, we had fun bei the pubs. However as far as gift intoxicated, I’m intoxicated von writing songs. That, bei and of itself, ist a meditation. Wie man you get complete bore into writing a song and creating the imagery lyrically, that ist a drug. Und we’ve been obtaining a buzz off this song zum decades now. “A fly with a buzz.”

“You’re inspired and intoxicated von the theme of the song, or ns process von writing a song. You’re developing this thing out von nowhere that zu sein going kommen sie ultimately schutz its own life. Sie do it weil das yourself kommen sie some degree, yet you’re clearly presenting that to the world and you’re hoping that human being enjoy it. The feels an excellent to schutz written lied the whole welt knows. It’s something sie don’t schutz any manage over. It’s one of those weird occurrences in my life, obviously. It’s miscellaneous that never goes away.

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Are freundin a songwriter? Enter die American Songwriter Lyric Contest. “Horse v No Name”By Dewey Bunnell On the erste part of the journeyI was looking at all die lifeThere were plants und birds and rocks und thingsThere was sand und hills und ringsThe erste thing ich met was a paris with a buzzAnd die sky with no cloudsThe heat was hot and the ground was dryBut ns air was full des sound

I’ve been through die desert on a horse with no nameIt feel good zu be out von the rainIn the desert freundin can’t remember your name‘Cause there ain’t no one zum to give you no painAfter 2 days in the desert sunMy skin began zu turn redAfter 3 days bei the desert funI was looking punkt a riverbedAnd the story it told von a river that flowedMade me sad kommen sie think it was deadI’ve to be through ns desert top top a horse with no nameIt feeling good to be out des the rainIn die desert you can’t remember your name‘Cause over there ain’t no one zum to give sie no painAfter nine days i let ns horse run free‘Cause die desert had turned to seaThere were plants und birds and rocks and thingsThere was sand und hills and ringsThe ocean is a desert with its life undergroundAnd a perfect disguise aboveUnder the cities lies a heart made des groundBut ns humans wollen give no love

I’ve to be through ns desert top top a equine with no nameIt felt good kommen sie be out des the rainIn ns desert you can’t remember her name‘Cause there ain’t no one zum to give freundin no pain From “Horse through No Name,” von Dewey Bunnell.