The Rolling Stones: Wild Horses Meaning
Song Released: 1971
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Wild Horses Lyrics
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hands
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away
This song was started by Keith Richards who wrote the first few lines for his son Marlon, about the pain of leaving him as he was about to leave on a tour. It was taken over by Jagger, who wrote it for Marianne Faithful. It was written in 1969, but wasn't realeased until 1971 on Sticky Fingers.
At the time, their relationship was falling apart because of her drug addictions. She tried to kill herself by overdosing, and Mick was at her bedside until she came out of a coma. Upon waking, she said wild horses couldn't drag me away, meaning nothing could drag her away from this life.
So, the first 4 lines were written by Keith Richards. Nothing to do with Marianne. Mick kept them in, and as someone suggested, it was about an innocent, naive girl he first met and fell in love with.
She fell from grace in his eyes, because she became jaded by drug use. But even though she wasn't the girl he first fell in love with, "you know who I am"- meaning, that whatever she has become, she should know he still loves her.
"I know I dreamed you a sin and a lie"- The destruction and what she had become disillusioned him.
Suffered a dull aching pain- now you decided to show me the same- meaning they had hurt each other through destructive behavior towards eachother, she felt the pain first, from drug use and from his destructive pattern, now she has done the same to him by her self-destructive behavior and her destructive behavior towards him. It could be affairs, it could be despair, it could be the self-destructiveness, or all three. We don't know.
no sweeping exits, or offstage line could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind- no matter what hurt they have caused eachother, there is still a great deal of love between them.
I have my freedom but I don't have much time- the relationship as it is is over, and he must stop hurting or he will drown in it.
Faith has been broken tears must be cried- there is no going back because the have destroyed each other and the relationship, and they must mourn the end of the relationship, and of what they did have together, this great love.
Let's do some living after we die- they can't be together in this life, but hopefully will be able to be together in death- sort of like a Romeo and Juliet thing.
Finally, wild horses couldn't drag me away- away from the memory of their love.
anonymous Dec 3rd, 2009 12:19pm report
The meaning of this song seems so obvious to me. These two people have been together for awhile. They've loved each other and hurt each other. Specifically, the singer has previously hurt the other. Now it's the other person who has betrayed the singer. But the singer is saying that he's not leaving; that no matter how much it hurts, he's staying with her. That he loves her enough to get past the hurt--that he'll forgive her--that nothing can drive him away. It's a beautiful, poignant, raw declaration of commitment and love.
anonymous Mar 27th, 2009 3:19pm report
I think this song has two people telling a story. The first two verses are the first person (husband?) acknowledging that his wife (partner?) has a terminal illness, and is watching her suffer the end of her life.
The last verse is the second person (wife) saying that that they've had a good life but her time is near, but she'll see him in the after-life to continue their journey.
I know the story behind the Stones' relationship and have read what is considered the "real" interpretation of this song...heroine and addiction and commitment and love. But I think everyone can interpret this song differently based on their own life experiences. For me it's about a man and woman who have been together and loved each other a long time but he has broken her trust ("Faith has been broken") and now the relationship is ending because she chooses not to continue suffering (emotionally) which is causing him emotional pain. He feels that her leaving is her way of hurting him back ("I've watched you suffer a dull aching pain, now you've decided to show me the same") however he loves her and doesn't want hostility or hurtful words. For me "Let's do some living after we die" means he wants the two of them to enjoy the rest of their lives and be happy even tho they won't be together (after their relationship dies). And "I have my freedom but don't have much time" refers to his being single (even tho not by choice) but his youth is now gone. Again this is just how the song fits into my life. It's by far my favorite Stones song and I listen to it often, usually with tears in my eyes.
anonymous Feb 28th, 2018 2:09pm report
Love, loss, drugs, love!
anonymous Feb 7th, 2018 2:17am report
OK, let's end this thing once and for all. In the liner notes to the 1993 Rolling Stones compilation album Jump Back, Jagger states, "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." 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."
Keith Richards gave it ti Gram Parsons to record first.
anonymous Feb 6th, 2018 2:41pm report
It's a sad love story
illness or disease has striken his lover.
KevinBarryLynch Mar 11th, 2012 3:31am report
Some interpretation's are very close but some have had the gender wrong, its Mother & Son.
The song was written about Keith's first born son Marlon, & the Graceless Lady is Anita Pallenberg (absolutely nothing to do with Marianne) one time girlfriend of Brian & later had an affair with Mick on the set of "Performance" It just so happen I know Marlon & one night at a great little celeb hang out in Soho NYC He gave me the lowdown. You might say I heard it from the Horses mouth (Please pardon the Pun !) My FB name is Kevin B. Lynch, hit me up and listen so some of my own music or go here>>>>.KEVIN B. LYNCH | Free Music, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos
anonymous Feb 16th, 2012 2:35pm report
So let's add fuel to the fire. While it is reported that Keith Richard's wrote it for Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman swore that Gram wrote it and gave it to Keith. This caused the end of Chris and Gram's relationship and Gram's departure from the Flying Burrito Brothers, who recorded the song before the Stones did.
anonymous Feb 15th, 2012 2:08pm report
Its about horse or Heroine and the pain from it how they watched each other suffer and it does have something to do with a girl but not how you think!
anonymous Dec 10th, 2011 12:41pm report
A lot of interesting thoughts posted here, but consider this; since Kieth Richards wrote this song for Gram Parsons, maybe it has nothing to do with the Stones at all. Maybe a closer look at Gram Parsons life at the time?
anonymous Dec 7th, 2011 12:31pm report
Like any good song, the meaning seems open. Though possibly written during a specific moment in time, the song writers knew that time would go on and that the "moment" would not last. It is full of symbolism like any good lyrical tune should be. Poetry at its best. Listen, study it, and enjoy it for the good tune that it is. Relationships are what they are, something going on between people. Trying to put feelings into words is one of the most difficult things in life.
anonymous Sep 4th, 2011 9:56pm report
Okay you know what, just to clarify. Keith didn't steal that little junkie Anita from anyone. Things were falling apart between Brian and Anita, to the point where one of them ended up with black eyes, broken body parts, and blood. In the backseat of the car ANITA ended up giving Keith a blowjob. It was HER that made the first move. Keith did absolutely nothing to have Anita make her move. (Besides being downright irresistible. ;D) Anyways. Anita was quite the loose canon. She was better away from Brian than with him, (and the same with Keith.) Keith just happened to be the one she ended up with, which isn't surprising at all.
And another reason why Keith wouldn't be the one to steal Anita away from Brian? WHY IN THE DAY AND AGE THAT IS CHARLIE WOULD HE DO SOMETHING TO MAKE BRIAN HATE HIM EVEN MORE??? HMMM? If you can answer that, then I'll kindly say, you've won.
And yet another reason. Keith was very insecure, almost shy when it came to women. He wasn't usually the one to make the first move. If they showed they were interested, he'd go for it. But he would never make the first move.
So. I was just pointing that out to all you people that make assumptions. -_-
anonymous May 24th, 2011 5:41am report
I think the song is universal, and has lots of interpretation, which vary from a person to another.
The lyrics that Mick wrote weren't specifically for Marianne, the song wasn't written for her...
Each person can interpret the song differently, I don't think there's a specific message... I mean, there was obviously for Mick and Keith, but now Wild Horses has become universal, which means every person cand find his/her own meaning to the song, and that's because it has a meaning that goes beyond the situation in which it was written. This is often the case with masterpieces, books, poems, paintings, and songs.
The song is about pain, and suffering, and love, but that's the only 3 themes that are recurring in all the different interpretations.
anonymous May 21st, 2011 5:38pm report
I think that song is about me and my father. I love him to death, but he was so tough to me when i were a little girl that i could only felt like shit. When i grew up i found the way to make him suffer and he told me that he knew how much damage he has been doing to me. However, i didn't forgive him during 7 years. I did many things to hurt him although these things were hurting me too. All the time we lost we could never have it back and there are resentment yet. And over all that shit l he loves me and cares for me. Now i have a son and i know that nor parent is perfect. My son is the only man that have heard that I love him. Is about people who punishh themselves to punish somebody else.
anonymous Mar 8th, 2011 3:43pm report
OK, now that you have all speculated on this, the truth is, Keith Richards wrote this song for Gram Parsons to record. It was first recorded by the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram's band at the time. Kieth gave it to Gram as a thank you for Gram's helping the Stones create their honky tonk sound. The Stones recorded it after the Flying Burrito Brothers recorded it.
A further aside, it was Keith Richards that introduced Gram to the drugs that would eventually kill him.
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