The Story Behind The Song: A look at The Rolling Stones’ deeply personal number ‘Wild Horses’
‘Wild Horses’ is a bonafide classic, one which feels like one of the more poignant releases that The Rolling Stones have ever produced.
Due to legal difficulties with the band’s manager at the time the song wouldn’t be released by The Stones for two years after it was recorded in 1969 and, somewhat bizarrely, it released by Gram Parsons’ Flying Burrito Brothers in 1970 — which is still a thing of beauty, but Jagger’s vocals on The Rolling Stones version are just another level.
The embers of the track arrived after Keith Richards wrote lyrics about the regret her felt after he was forced to leave his family behind to go on tour shortly after his newborn son Marlon was born in 1969. Richards’ lyrics wouldn’t end up making it onto the final release of the song, however, with Jagger deciding instead to build an entirely new track but around Richards’ beautiful line ‘wild horses couldn’t drag me away’.
That line is one that is left open to interpretation, allowing the listener to expound in their own way, associating the words to their own life which is, incidentally, is exactly what Jagger did when he transformed the line that was initially about Keith’s newborn child into an anthem allegedly about his wavering relationship with Marrianne Faithfull that was falling apart.
Jagger, however, later denied that the words were about Faithfull in the liner notes for to the 1993 compilation album Jump Back, stating, “I remember we sat around originally doing this with Gram Parsons, and I think his version came out slightly before ours. 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.”
“It was one of those magical moments when things come together,” Richards wrote in his 2010 autobiography Life about the song’s creation. “It’s like ‘Satisfaction.’ You just dream it, and suddenly it’s all in your hands. Once you’ve got the vision in your mind of wild horses, I mean, what’s the next phrase you’re going to use? It’s got to be couldn’t drag me away.”
That phrase, as Richards points out, is an instant classic from the first time you hear it as it does take your mind instantly to a place that very few songs have the ability to do. Take a few minutes out of your day to listen to the Sticky Fingers track on full blast and let The Stones brighten up your day.