America: A Horse With No Name Meaning
Song Released: 1972
A Horse With No Name Lyrics
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and...
The journey through the desert by the narrator is really a physical journey of self-discovery. He discovers one main thing. He discovers that running away from your troubles does not make them go away and that they will come back.
The whole song refers to a period of time where the narrator gets away from his life.t his is represented by him walking through the desert. Rain or water is seen as a constant metaphor for troubles in his life. A journey through the desert where there is no rain and little water is the perfect escape.
In the first verse he is enjoying and appreciating the life around him in the desert during this time, “I was looking at all the life.” He is enjoying not having to deal with his usual responsibilities or problems. He then says in the first chorus “It felt good to be out of the rain.” He is experiencing a time of clarity where he can listen to his thoughts. “In the desert you can remember your name, 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.” Because all distractions are removed he can find his true identity.
In the second verse he begins to feel the negative effects of having left his old life. This I seen in the way his “skin began to turn red.” He sees that by abandoning the water he is missing out on many of the things which enriched his life. He originally thought water to only be his problems but it was intertwined with many good things too. We see this in the line of the dry riverbed. The line, “And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead,” shows that he now sees that escaping his life was not the way to be happy. He misses it.
In the third and final verse his problems catch up with him “the desert had turned to sea.” His problems are not only rain as we see at the beginning, it is much bigger. By not addressing his problems they have become worse over time. He also discovers that he never really did escape his life and problems. They were always there, it was an illusion he created himself. “The ocean is a desert with its life underground, And a perfect disguise above.” The main character has discovered that escape from your problems is impossible. You may think you have escaped them but you haven’t, they will always be there and will grow bigger over time if you do not address them. This journey is one of self-discovery.
anonymous Aug 29th, 2013 8:36pm report
Really, why does Wikipedia continue to be the "BE ALL" source. If I can change something on the site with very little historical references, why would anyone use it as an exact quote? If you are a high school or college student at in my literature class and you quote WIKI...you loose 1/4 of the points for the paper, unless you are doing a paper on the inconsistencies on the site and have at least two other quotes to refute that it shows. The song makes references to self discovery and is probably tracking a vision quest for young native Americans who follow traditions. They are give an herb to take and it expands the mind to allow them to follow the path to their spiritual guide...and yes the herb is a type of natural drug
anonymous Jul 27th, 2013 7:48pm report
I heard a recent interview with Gerry where he said the essential concept was based on taking a Ferrari for a test drive in the desert.
anonymous Apr 3rd, 2013 4:08am report
Also, to the yutz that claimed that the song was written in LA.... America recorded their first albumn in the UK. They did not got to LA until the "Homecoming" disc. So, you were either fed a load of BS by some wannabe or you made the entire story up yourself to add the "drug" meaning to the song.
anonymous Apr 3rd, 2013 4:01am report
Straight from Dewey Bunell....
"America's self-titled debut album was released initially in Europe with only moderate success and without the song "A Horse with No Name." Trying to find a song that would be popular in both the United States and Europe, "A Horse with No Name" was originally called "Desert Song" and was written while the band was staying at the home studio of Arthur Brown, in Puddletown, Dorset. The first two demos were recorded there, by Jeff Dexter and Dennis Elliott, and was intended to capture the feel of the hot, dry desert that had been depicted at the studio from a Salvador Dalí painting, and the strange horse that had ridden out of an M.C. Escher picture. Writer Dewey Bunnell also says he remembered his childhood travels through the Arizona and New Mexico desert when his family lived at Vandenberg Air Force Base."
So, how could the song have been written in LA when it was written and two demos recorded in the UK?
How could it be about drugs when Bunell himself recalls "his childhood travels through the Arizona and New Mexico desert when his family lived at Vandenberg Air Force Base."?
You're all wrong.
anonymous Jun 15th, 2012 6:48pm report
We don't care what the meaning is. We just want them to name the fucking horse.
anonymous Jun 9th, 2012 6:16pm report
i dont care,drugs or no drugs its a cool song!
anonymous Sep 11th, 2011 9:42pm report
It was intended to capture the feel of the hot, dry desert that had been depicted at the studio from a Salvador Dalí painting, and the strange horse had ridden out of an M.C. Escher picture. Writer Dewey Bunnell also says he remembered his childhood travels through the Arizona and New Mexico desert when his family lived at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Mar 26th, 2011 3:10pm report
I think its about heroine cause they say a horse is slang for heroine .
anonymous Sep 17th, 2010 9:28am report
Clearly, the "narrator" is stoned out of his mind. So much for meaning.
From the earliest days, everyone said that it had to do with drugs, most likely heroin. I don't know, it's much like a lot of America's other lyrics. I have a feeling that especially in those days, many writers would get a good melody going and then write words that just sounded good with the melody.
anonymous Mar 19th, 2009 3:07pm report
The desert is a drug clinic, a horse with no name is methadone. Think about it. That self discovery hogwash is funny, but wrong. Heard it in an interview with Gerry Beckley.
anonymous Jul 19th, 2008 7:01am report
I think that most likely, this song played backwards is probably about satan doing heroin in the middle of the desert.
anonymous Feb 23rd, 2008 2:27pm report
No 14 to give you no pain.. no masonic junk
can remember your name = agent junk
really... who would believe that there isn't something cool in every song by 'America'?
anonymous Nov 21st, 2007 11:07pm report
Vocalist Dewey Bunnell has said that the "alligator lizards in the air" in the song are references to cloud shapes. He also explained in their box set booklet Highway Highlight that the song is "about leaving," Dewey adds. "It reminds me of the time I lived in Omaha as a kid and how we'd walk through cornfields and chew on pieces of grass. There were cold winters, and I had images of going to California. So I think in the song I'm talking to myself, frankly: 'How long you gonna stay here, Joe?' I really believe that 'Ventura Highway' has the most lasting power of all my songs. It's not just the words â€” the song and the track have a certain fresh, vibrant, optimistic quality that I can still respond to.
That's about Ventura Highway, showing it did have some meaning to it.
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