Wild Horses - The Rolling Stones

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"Wild Horses" - The Rolling Stones (1969)

The origins of “Wild Horses” was in 1969 when Keith Richards regretted having to leave his newborn song Marlon to go on tour, with the line, "Wild Horses couldn't drag me away."

Mick Jagger rewrote Keith's lyrics, keeping only the line "Wild horses couldn't drag me away." His rewrite was based on his relationship with British singer-songwriter Marianne Faithfull, which was disintegrating at the time. Faithfull claims "Wild horses couldn't drag me away" was the first thing she said to Jagger after she pulled out of a drug-induced coma in 1969.

Richards said: "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. “

Jagger added:

“It's an example of a pop song. Taking this cliché /wild horses/, which is awful, really, but making it work without sounding like a cliché when you're doing it.”

Considered one of the band’s most underrated tracks, the longing of the song's lyrics coupled with its ultimate hope constitute is in line with many songs by The Rolling Stones which alternates between aggressive sexuality and warmer, more subtly erotic statements of emotional dependence and openness. It serves to evoke emotions from places you have yet to discover.

Stones guitarist Mick Taylor played acoustic guitar on this song in what's known as "Nashville tuning," in which you use all first and second strings and you tune them in octaves. The result is that it makes a 6-string guitar sound like a 12 string. 

Richards wrote:

“I found these chords, especially doing it on a twelve-string to start with, which gave the song this character and sound. There's a certain depressed feeling that can come out of a twelve-string. I started off, I think, on a regular six-string open E, and it sounded very nice, but sometimes you just get these ideas. What if I open tuned a twelve-string? All it meant was translate what Mississippi Fred McDowell was doing - twelve-string slide – into five-string mode, which meant a ten-string guitar.”



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