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 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 26th, 2012 2:13pm report
You Should Have Seen Me Runnin - The New Riders Of The Purple Sage
I DON'T KNOW WHERE IT WENT WRONG BUT I'VE BEEN LOOKIN' FOR A SONG
THAT I LOST, SOMEWHERE OUT ON THE WAY
AND IT'S BEEN THE WORST OF YEARS, I JUST COULDN'T COUNT THE TEARS
BUT I THINK I HEAR THAT MELODY AGAIN TODAY
SO YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME RUNNIN
RUNNIN ALL THE WAY
YEAH, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME RUNNIN
COMING HERE TODAY
YEAH, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME CRYIN'
SINCE YOU'VE BEEN AWAY
SO YOU SHOULD'VE SEEN ME TRYIN'
TO GET BACK HERE TODAY, TO GET BACK HERE TODAY
WELL I WAS HAPPY FOR A WHILE AND I ALWAYS HAD A SMILE ON MY FACE
TO SHOW THE LOVE WE HAD
BUT YOU THOUGHT YOU OUGHT TO GO
AND I THOUGHT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
THAT SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE I NEVER HAVE FELT SO BAD
AND YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME RUNNIN
RUNNIN ALL THE WAY
OH YEAH, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME RUNNIN
COMING HERE TODAY
OH, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME CRYIN'
SINCE YOU'VE BEEN AWAY
SO YOU SHOULD'VE SEEN ME TRYIN'
TO GET BACK HERE TODAY, TO GET BACK HERE TODAY
WELL I'VE BEEN DYIN' FOR YOUR SWEET, SWEET LOVIN EVER SINCE YOU'VE BEEN AWAY
YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME RUNNIN, RUNNIN, RUNNIN
COMING BACK TODAY, SHE'S COMING BACK TODAY
This song reminds me of Run For The Roses or The Race Is On or Wild Horses On The Loose & many other songs which compare horse racing and Love... The New Riders of The Purple Sage sing this one and I think it is about a jockey who says he is "runnin" because he is ONE with his horse... It is a song that has deep hidden meaning between the lines... It is a tune about odds, risks, taking chances and running. When the Rider sings, "you should have seen me runnin", it obviously means that he is betting you that you did not ^actually^ see him runnin. He is taking a shot in the dark that you didn't visualize his attempts at sprinting. You should have, but you didn't. He is disappointed in you because you were either oblivious, you purposely looked away or you are just pretending that you did not see him runnin when you really DID see him runnin but you simply will not admit it. Whatever happened, he is upset about it for many reasons not least among them that he was damn good. Hence he might be taking a gamble in his own obscure way because he doesn't know for certain if you saw him runnin or not.. He is somewhat angered that you mysteriously never observed his efforts at rapid action. The main point, regardless of anyone's seeing him or not, is that he loves this woman and he is taking risks runnin back to her. Maybe he is runnin step by step.. Who really knows because who really saw... This part of the song I can process. Here is where the Rider loses me: The relative risks of a particular event and the event's odds ratio are totally different from each other. How, I have no clue... All I know is that even if they do sound synonymous they are two distinct statistical concepts. I am trying to understand... I believe the relative risk is like this: “ A horse racer's risk of developing delusional disorder is ten to twelve times that of non-horse racers.” And the odds.. well.. they are the likelihood that the horse will win the race. The RISKS are the dangers of becoming a horse racer and the ODDS are the chances that his horse will ever win at it. Am I right?
The odds are, I am probably wrong. My brain doesn't see life, Love and runnin this way. It's difficult for me to grasp concepts in general and most definitely statistical probability concepts. In my life, I have heard only one specific statistic that I enjoyed and retained due to its relevance.. Are you ready? Here it is: 95% of all statistics are made up on the spot. I believe this is most likely true. Are there risks to believing this statistic? I don't see them. What are the odds people will believe this statistic? Hhhm. You tell me.. Anyway, this horse racing compared to Love business is all much too much for my cerebellum. It makes my head ache with numbers. This is what perplexes me greatly: When the chances are high a specific event will occur, for instance his cryin and tryin & runnin > the relative risk and odds ratio diverge significantly. What this means is extremely problematic to me due to the likelihood that I just don't get it. The odds are in my favour that I do not "enjoy" subjects that I simply do not understand in the slightest bit. In my opinion, horse racing sucks in terms of comprehending the inherent risks, odds & chances that I will WIN at it, but that doesn't mean I won't take a risk and play anyway. There must be a formula that most intelligent gamblers can use to bet on the probability of my bizarre risk-taking behaviour. Maybe they'll win. This is all very exhausting for me to ponder. Sooo...
The parts of the song that I understand are as follows and are listed alphabetically in no particular order:
A. he loves her
D. he is trying to run & race to her
C. he has cried a major amount & has tried very hard to make it back to her
B. he felt sad when he was away from her
G. she is sweet to him
F. he is happy when he is with her & he smiles
E. she is a song and a melody to him
J. he is going to get back to her TODAY
And just an aside... I love Donna Godchaux & Buffy Sainte-Marie chanting in the background. For some goofy reason they make me smile.. Sometimes they sound like sheep, which is a quality I truly adore in female singers.
Thank you for reading my post. I love The Rolling Stones very much too. smooches to all
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 Apr 22nd, 2011 4:23am report
This song is about a relationship; the one singing talks about what the relationship used to be, - less mature, (ref. to childhood) (ref. to buying the other person whatever they wanted),(giving the other whatever they wanted in the relationship, perhaps giving freely)...there was love at that level, then the one singing (male) caused the other pain, (female) which seemed to be unforgiven, somehow the hurt caused the (female) one sung to or about, to not be able to forgive,(or perhaps more exact would be that it caused the one sung to to stop the relationship from continuing, even thought they still loved the one singing) I think this fits, not that the one sung to wouldn't forgive, but they were for some reason unable to forgive, the relationship suffered because of it, the one singing is saying their love expressed to the sing-ee is unending and cannot die, and nothing would ever squelch what is in their heart for the other person, however, the one sung to, perhaps through hurt and self-protection was so scarred by the pain of what they experienced in the earlier relationship that they could not grow through it to arrive on the other side, able to love again, they instead did something destructive motivated by their need for protection, and caused the effect of the relationship not continuing, which seemed less hurtful at the time, and seemed less destructive than allowing the real love relationship to continue. Instead what they caused was complete destruction of the relationship, although the love, the singer sings, would continue forever.
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.
anonymous Sep 23rd, 2010 9:18am report
Two points after reading some of the interpretations above. The original as sung by Mick Jagger has lines:
"Graceless lady, you know HOW I am" and
"Lets do some living after LOVE dies".
Covers of this song (e.g., Susan Boyle) have often changed these lines and the meaning obviously can be quite different.
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