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A Horse With No Name by America

Album: AmericaReleased: 1972Charted:
  • America was formed in England by sons of US servicemen who were stationed there. Lead singer Dewey Bunnell wrote this when he was 19. Although the song is commonly misinterpreted about being on drugs, it is not: Bunnell based the images in the lyrics on things he saw while visiting the US.
  • This was originally titled "Desert Song," since Bunnell wrote it based on the desert scenery he encountered when his dad was stationed at an Air Force base in Santa Barbara County, California.
  • The song tells a rather abstruse tale about a trip though the desert. While the landscape is unforgiving, the singer also finds comfort in that scenario.

    According to Dewey Bunnell, the "horse" represents a means of entering a place of tranquility, and this tranquil place was best represented by the desert, which sounded pretty good to him while he was stuck in rainy England.

    As for why the horse had no name and why it went free after nine days, Bunnell doesn't have any answers - it seems the various listener interpretations are far more colorful than any meaning he assigned to it.
  • The group's self-titled debut album was released in the UK in late 1971, but didn't contain this song. When they were contemplating a single, they considered "I Need You," but decided to come up with a new song instead. The group went back to the studio and recorded "A Horse With No Name," which Bunnell had written.

    Released as a single in the UK, it shot to #3 in January 1972, prompting the group's label, Warner Bros., to issue the single in the US and also release the album with the song included. On March 25, both the single and album hit #1 in the US; the song stayed at the top spot for three weeks, the album for five.

    The album was recorded in London where the band was located. In February, when the song started climbing the charts in the US, the group embarked on a tour of the States, playing club shows before supporting the Everly Brothers as the opening act on their North American tour.

    "I Need You" was released as the follow-up single, reaching #9 US. The group would become one of the most successful acts of the '70s and score another US #1 hit with "Sister Golden Hair."
  • Many people thought this was a Neil Young song when they heard it, and many rock critics pointed out the similarities. In a strange twist, "A Horse With No Name" replaced Young's "Heart of Gold" at #1 in the US.

    Dewey Bunnell explained that he was well aware that he sounded like Neil Young on this song, but claimed he wasn't trying to imitate the singer. He told Rolling Stone in 1973: "I try to use a different voice so that I won't be branded as a rip-off. It's such a drag, though, to have to not sound like someone when you can't help it in the first place."
  • America remained active into the '10s, typically playing about 100 shows a year. When we spoke with Gerry Beckley in 2016, he said: "I'm always asked, 'What's your favorite song?' And I usually default to 'Horse' because the song itself represents the start of the journey. You know: 'On the first part of the journey.' It actually says it in the song. But that's what it's been - it's been an unbelievable journey."
  • "Horse" is slang for heroin, leading to myriad rumors (denied by the band) that the song was about drugs.
  • Dewey Bunnell played 6-string acoustic guitar on this track; his bandmate Gerry Beckley played 12-string acoustic, and the third member of the group, Dan Peek, played bass. Session musicians rounded out the instrumentation: Kim Haworth on drums and Ray Cooper on percussion.
  • This appears on a fifth-season episode of Friends called "The One With Joey's Big Break." In it, Joey and Chandler go on a road trip to Las Vegas (hence, "through the desert").

    Other TV series to use the song are:
    Parks and Recreation
    The Simpsons
    Six Feet Under

    Movies include:
    Air America (1990)
    Hideous Kinky (1998)
    The Trip (2002)
    American Hustle (2013)

    Suggestion credit:
    Brett - Edmonton, Canada
  • A 2010 episode of the TV series Breaking Bad is titled "Caballo sin Nombre," Spanish for "Horse With No Name." At the beginning of this episode, the main character Walter White sings along to the song on his car radio, and then at the end he sings it again.
  • The San Francisco band The Loud Family named their first album Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things after a line in this song.
  • This song found a new audience when it was used in the video game Grand Theft Auto. The band had some reservations about letting the song be used in the violent game, but Gerry Beckley's son Joe helped convince them to do so. "And now, almost weekly, we'll have some kid come up to us and say, 'I learned about your music through Grand Theft Auto,'" Beckley told us in 2016.
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Comments: 143

After countless decades I finally researched whether it's "you can remember your name" or "you CAN'T remember your name". Apparently those in the know say it's the former. I think "can't" makes a lot more sense. If no one is hassling you then you're carefree and your name is irrelevant. Hell, the horse had no name and so you the rider ought to share in that same bliss!Ken - Wv
On March 25th 1972, "A Horse With No Name" by America was in its first of three weeks at #1 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
And on the weekly syndicated radio program 'American Top 40' Dick Clark was filling in for regular host, Casey Kasem...
R.I.P Dick Clark {1929 - 2012}, Casey Kasem, born Kemal Amen Kasem, 1932 - 2014, and America’s Dan Peek {1950 - 2011}...
May all three R.I.P.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On February 13th 1972, "A Horse With No Name" by America entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; and five weeks later on March 19th, 1972 it peaked at #1 {for 3 weeks} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #3 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
Between 1972 and 1983 the trio had seventeen Top 100 hits; seven made the Top 10 with two reaching #1; their other #1 record was "Sister Golden Hair" for 1 week in 1975...
R.I.P. original member Dan Peek {November 1st, 1950 - July 24th, 2011}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Apr 2014. This is an excellent song.

I don't care if a Song is about drugs or not. I personally think this one is but it doesn't inspire me to like it more or like it less and it certainly doesn't Make we want to use Heroin. I don't believe the references are by happenstance.

Rick James made a song called "Mary Jane" when I was kid, all of us would sing it and I remember an older dude told us it was about Weed. I didn't run right out and get a joint. Though I did much later but that was mainly because women were getting high and I wasn't about to let a little Grass Keep me from getting something that rhymes with it.
Markantney - Biloxi, Ms
I think the lyrics are flawed and not brilliant but the recording itself is a masterpiece of isolated loneliness. The arrangement's melancholy effect is superb.Matt - Phoenix, Az
The song's resemblance to some of Neil Young's work aroused some controversy. "I know that virtually everyone, on first hearing, assumed it was Neil", Dewey Bunnell from the band America says. "I never fully shied away from the fact that I was inspired by him. I think it's in the structure of the song as much as in the tone of his voice. It did hurt a little, because we got some pretty bad backlash. I've always attributed it more to people protecting their own heroes more than attacking me." By coincidence, it was "A Horse with No Name" that replaced Young's "Heart of Gold" at the #1 spot on the U.S. pop chart.Jef - Passaic, Nj
The song is what it is. It appears to be a type of free flow of thought with no particular attempt to form a cohesive sense in the manner of most songs. That alone is refreshing. The lyrics do form a conclusion but even that would not have been necessary. All attempts to associate the piece with drugs are in vain as that can never be proven beyond question and is therefore a waste of time. Enjoy it for what it is. Decide for yourself what you wish for it to convey to you.George - Elbourne, Fl
Crass, small-minded people think EVERYTHING must be about drugs (or sex). It never occurred to me that this song was in that vein. To me, it's exactly what it appears to be. It's about the desert, one of the few places where you can escape from overpopulation, pollution and phony people who dish out so much grief that you can't remember your own name, so to speak. Man has crowded out most parts of the world that aren't too hot, dry, cold, wet or steep to live in year-round, but at certain times of the year the desert has ideal solitude.Jim - Pleasant Hill, Ca
This song,"Sister Golden Hair" & "Ventura Highway" takes me back to my elementary school days.Good times.When Jimmy Webb teamed with America for the soundtrack for the animated film "The Last Unicorn (1982)",this score & Jerry Goldsmith's score for "The Secret Of Nimh (1982)"were my favorites.Michael - Santa Cruz, Ca
the desert represents a place that is pure clean, nothing but sand, the things that trouble us in the every day life are not there, in the desert we are really free and we have real peace, that's the philosophy behind meditation by the way.
the horse doesn't have a name cause if it had a name that would ruin the purity of the desert, the whole point that you can really free your mind in there. "the sky with no clouds" "the heat was hot and the ground was dry but the air was full of sound"- again, the desert is empty, not even clouds, dry ground, but the air which is invisible is full of sound, the big silence has some siritual quality, you really know who you are when there's no distractions, "in the desert you can remember your name".
Guy - Tel Aviv, Israel
AMERICA HORSE WITH NO NAME: I really love this song and I'm glad for this medium to say what I think of it. I am now 51 and when I was in my teens I fell in love with this song. The musical arrangement is very good and I love the lyrics. The singer paints a very nice picture of just what Desert Life is all about. The descriptive words falls sweet to my ears and the song itself takes me back to my childhood life. I may not be able to express fully of how much I love this song. One thing I do know is this:
With internet as it is now and the availability of Internet radio and the making of play-lists ( HORSE WITH NO NAME ) is always there on mmmy play-list of loved songs. Whenever I hears this song I begin to view a video in my mind of an imaginary desert life, but more; there is a video to this song and it has surely enhanced my love and deep appreciation for AMERICA and their great song ( H O R S E W I T H N O N A M E )
Peter Belfon - St. George, Grenada
the guys from America look good...So forget/or who cares about the drug remarks.
I was at a Peter Frampton/America/Chicago/Brian Wilson / concert here in Australia oct 2010...Dewey was setting behind me watching Brian Wilson doing his thing.
I said hi Dewey and he said hi back. Then he contined to watch the show..He is a true gentleman.
Douglas - Nowra, Australia
This song was written by Dewey Bunnell.It was inspired by the time he spent horseback riding in New Mexico and Arizona as a child.He wrote this song one rainy day in England while he longed for the heat and dryness of the desert he remembered from his youth.It is not about heroinBrian - Boston, Ma
ive been through the desert on a horse named jack. it dosent sound right, the name of the horse is not important it sounds better the other way, a horse with no name think about it. if you give the horse a name it would throw the song of in the begining then you would look for a hiden meaning in the name of the horse ,you cant win her just leave the song alone interpet it in a spiritual way ( and if horse is slang for heroine then you really cant give the horse a name anyways) its still a great song and the horse in the bible represents deep spiritual understanding so enjoy from that perspective lol and god blessDom - Toronto, On
Here's the meaning, from the guy who wrote it: http://www.accessbackstage.com/america/song/song005.htmHelene - Long Beach, Ny
I think it's about how if you go through something like a war or the desert, or coconut cream pie, you go incredibly insane.Dusty - St. Louis, Mo
Fly with a buzz...(white) horse with no name...a desert that becomes a sea...always sounded like a druggie song to me.Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
Alright,everybody and Dewey Bunnell,from this date (9/17/2010)onward,the title of this song is changed to "A Horse Named Claude" with the line in the chorus changed to "I've been through the desert on a horse named Claude."Charles Hollingswort - Leeds, Al
Small problem, Rodrigo from Chile. The book "The Power of Now" hadn't been PUBLISHED when this song was written!Judy - Philadelphia, Pa
America's first three U.S. releases all made the Top Ten; 'A Horse With No Name' {#1 for 3 weeks}, 'I Need You' {peaked at #9}, and 'Ventura Highway' {peaked at #8}!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I don't doubt that the members of America did drugs Im almost certain they all did.However I do not think this song is about heroin. I could be wrong maybe it is.Who uses the term "Horse'For heroin? I know that it is a term that has been used before but it just doesn't seem to fit here.I'm sure they smoked pot and probably did coke but the writer of this song does not seem like someone that did heroin. I know they deny that it is about heroin but what do they say it is about? If anyone knows of anything they may have said in an interview about this song please share it with us Regardless it is a great song and very enjoyable to play on acousticBrian - Boston, Ma
I should also add to this song's integrity...watch "Millenium" Season 2...."owls" it has a very dark effect when you watch a man with a broke down car get strangled ....with the same hose the gas from his car is siphoned and drowned with it and then ignited....the song has a very twisted effect watching it in that perspective...
woke up from a double shift to "Millenium" to that exact scene and that was just not what i needed to see when waking up...
Erik - Kalamazoo, Mi
It could be open interpretation. I seriously doubt that this song was about heroin. If you think about certain horsemen...there were only 4 and this song has a dark yet beautiful incantation...maybe we should guess not that of the horse but the rider.....Erik - Kalamazoo, Mi
This was in "Breaking Bad," season 3 episode "Caballo Sin Nombre." It played on Walt's radio during the opening scene when he's pulled over in the Albuquerque desert, and he has to provide his name (license and registration).

The show, about a cancer-stricken high school teacher who turns to a life of crime, has some parallels with the song. One episode featured Walt and his drug making partner Jesse stuck in the desert for several days, nearly dying, with an inoperative RV. Less literal parallels include the heavy use of drugs (methamphetamine instead of heroin) and struggles against addiction by the characters of Jesse Pinkman and Jane Margolis.
Tim - Wilmington, Il
One of the Holy Trinity of America songs.(the other two are "I need you" & "Sister Goldenhair")I love everything about it.The words,the melody& the sweet harmonies.Seems like this song was in a Mel Gibson/Robert Downey movie.It's Vietnam era & it came out around 1989 or 1990 I think.Dane - Lima,ohio, Fl
I remember the song when it came out. I was a big drug user back then, and it never even occurred to me that it might be about heroin. (Note: If you are going to insist on saying that it is, at least spell it right. A heroine is something else altogether.) I always thought it was simply about the desert--and the sorts of things the desert gets you thinking about, especially the long-ago past and the way of life that people had in the desert long before Europeans showed up.Bou - Bloomington, In
thank you stormy!!!! i wish there were more people in the world like you. for heavens sake... People who have nothing better to do than analyze songs need to get a real life!!! Get a life!!!! Please....For the sake of humanity...Please go do something anything..Learn to ride a horse..Go play with your dog...Read a book (those are those things that are made with paper pages and they have two covers)....Go for a walk...Enjoy this beautiful life we have been given...Life is a gift....Be nice... Tell your loved ones that you love them....Stop the arguing already... Ppl who create drama just want attention.Lisa - Eveleth, Mn
The theme is God !

The desert represents emptiness , silences, as in the universe. This emptiness is the unmanifested nature of God. The ocean vs Desert means the illusion that "life" manifested as form is one and the same with the emptiness (the desert) spiritual dimension of the universe.

The horse with no name , the no name part is clearly the way we learn to identify with form (as in labels, past , societies) and our true essence. We find our true essences in a desert because nobody is there to get as back into our false men made identity.

This is my incomplete interpretation based on "The power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle .
Rodrigo - Santiago, Chile
"The ocean is a desert with it's life underground, and the perfect disguise above"-Great line!John - Beltsville, Md
Here's a different take: Maybe he'd broken up with his mole and went sleeping around in anonymity for a spell.Mark - Sydney, Australia
"America" What an insult to all the poets and songwriters within this land.

The lyrics of all songs made by this 3-4 hit no longer pop-group are left to Beavis and Butthead.

The lyrics of this band "America" are about as shallow as a dry pothole. They took a brief look at Bob Dylan and turned it into nonsense.
Michael - Chicago, Il
This song was featured on the in-game radio station K-DST in Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasAidan - Melbourne, Australia
I think this song is an introspective view on society itself. The rain symbolizes humans/societal values ( "It felt good to be out of the rain", "But the humans will show no love". "You can't remember your name cause' there ain't no one to give you no pain") . Once he is out in the desert ( symbol of purity, innocence,), he surrounded by plants/birds/rocks and thingsAndi - Compton, Wa
Shrugs on the drugs-----i mean, does it really matter? still think it's a good song.Harold - San Bernadino, Ca
This is my interpretation of this song

The first verse describes the beginning of the "journey" that this person is traveling through; their emotional state of mind. He starts in the desert and the desert is his personal state of mind, his peaceful setting in his mind. He notices all the life and the buzz of the fly and all the nice, peaceful parts of this desert.

The first line of the chorus is his fleeing of his problem into peace. The line, "it felt good to be out of the rain," which means he felt good to be away from his problems. In the desert he can remember who he is because no one else is trying to change him or criticize him.

The second verse describes how the solitude of his problem is getting to him. His "skin began to turn red" because the problem was starting to eat away at him again. The line, "I was looking at a river bed, And the story it told of a river that flowed, Made me sad to think it was dead," means he is looking at something he used to have that was good before his problem, and he is sad that the thing is gone.

The third verse describes the true identity of his problems. The first line says, "he let the horse run free," which means he let his problems take over his life again and his solitude and peacefulness is gone. The desert "peace" had turned to sea "problems." He says, "the ocean is a desert with its life underground and a perfect disguise above." This means that his problem and his life appear peaceful on the outside but on the inside its chaos and turmoil. The peaceful outside is "a perfect disguise, under the cities lies a heart made of ground, but the humans will give no love." This means that people don't understand this problem he is going through and they will give him no love and help to get through this problem.
Mike - Detroit, Mi
This is my interpretation of this song

The first verse describes the beginning of the "journey" that this person is traveling through; their emotional state of mind. He starts in the desert and the desert is his personal state of mind, his peaceful setting in his mind. He notices all the life and the buzz of the fly and all the nice, peaceful parts of this desert.

The first line of the chorus is his fleeing of his problem into peace. The line, "it felt good to be out of the rain," which means he felt good to be away from his problems. In the desert he can remember who he is because no one else is trying to change him or criticize him.

The second verse describes how the solitude of his problem is getting to him. His "skin began to turn red" because the problem was starting to eat away at him again. The line, "I was looking at a river bed, And the story it told of a river that flowed, Made me sad to think it was dead," means he is looking at something he used to have that was good before his problem, and he is sad that the thing is gone.

The third verse describes the true identity of his problems. The first line says, "he let the horse run free," which means he let his problems take over his life again and his solitude and peacefulness is gone. The desert "peace" had turned to sea "problems." He says, "the ocean is a desert with its life underground and a perfect disguise above." This means that his problem and his life appear peaceful on the outside but on the inside its chaos and turmoil. The peaceful outside is "a perfect disguise, under the cities lies a heart made of ground, but the humans will give no love." This means that people don't understand this problem he is going through and they will give him no love and help to get through this problem.
Mike - Detroit, Mi
This is one of the most simple songs on The guitar, it's two chords however one of the chords was practiclly invented fore this song.John - Marlborough, Ma
I was living in California when this song came out, I have no idea if there is a metaphor for every sentence in this song all I can tell you is the lyrics made total sense to me at the time! I lived in the desert and you can't imagine how "heat was hot" until you've been there! trust me I have toured this awesome country and the desert heat can't be explained any other way! California deserts are unique, and well described in this song, dry river beds, life underground etc..and whether he was singing about a true ocean (which in S. CA is like a desert, but it has rain...or a mirage which is truly realistic I have no idea, I think people who have no experience with what a singer is singing about looks to find hidden meaning for words, to write this song as accurately in description to California desert/ocean areas it was obviously experienced and then written about. It could have been written as a metaphor about life, his life experience. I just don't see the "drug" connection here. Sometimes a song can actually just be about something simple without need for analysis...trust me a bunch of psychologists could analyze each and everyone one of us here based on our comments and there would be varying opinions amongst them, and most would be wrong!Karen - Syracuse, Ny
If you have ever traveled to Death Valley in the spring, the lyrics make a great deal of sense with or without drugs. I have a number of friends who like to go there, and who refer to this as "Horse With No Neil" to remind themselves that the singer is not Neil Young.Ekristheh - Halath, United States
I never realized how many MORONS there are out there that listen to Songfacts! This song has absolutely NOTHING to do with HEROIN! Jeez! Give it a break! Why do so many of you try to bring drug meanings into so many songs from the 60s and 70s!? I doubt that many of you were even BORN in the 60s and 70s! I suppose that many of you if you heard a song about a "crack" in the sky talking about the ozone layer, you'd try to insist that it's a reference to cocaine! And John Denver's reference to "sunshine almost always makes me high" means JUST THAT! It menas that a beautiful, sunny day makes people high, excited and invigorated! NOTHING ELSE!Stormy - Kokomo, In
Hey Bri from St Louis, 1st off, its Peek, not Peak (i would think if he is related to your wife you would know this) and he didnt write the song, Bunell didBrad - Long Island, Ny
Thanks Ash for the sanity. Dewey Bunnell has said the song is not about heroin and he wrote it so we should probably take his word. It seems for some, if a song is one big metaphor, it must be about drugsBrad - Long Island, Ny
I am 48 and soon to be 49. I bought this 45 single when it first came out in 1972. It was on warner bros. with "Riverside" on the B-side. I like it alot. It makes me remember when. Plus it is a good song. It just rolls from the start to the finish. Listen to when they sing the last line. You can hear someone say -great. Maybe it doesn't make alot of sense at times. But a good song all the same. With all said though,I'll agree with some others here. "Sandman" is the better song overall. If you were 12 or older in 72' and you remember when. Then I think you would enjoy "A Horse With No Name" more so.Wayne - Salem, Va
As somebody mentioned earlier, Randy Newman said this song is "about a kid who thinks he's taken LSD!" I think it's fun to make up your own meaning out of vague lyrics, but the song has to be good to start with. "A Horse With No Name" just isn't a very good song.Max - Amherst, Ma
I love this one from its appearance on NewsRadio. It's wicked funny: Dave gets a handheld tape recorder to record his thoughts on (I think he was trying to write a book or something). All he winds up capturing is himself singing this song over and over again. Great show.Darren - Worcester, Ma
I agree Joel. And just to add... even when a person is stoned, drunk, hallucinating, or in rem, any thought has had some meaning. If the song writer says the song "has no meaning" he is either being very disingenuous, or may simply want people to develop a meaning for themselves. What exactly does a songwriter, or a fan, mean when they say a song was written while "stoned" anyway? I think that's what doesn't have any meaning.

Anyway, I'm sure that once the writer "unstoned" himself, he would have certainly worked on the song at least a little bit more before sharing it with the band, the producer, the engineer, the record executives, and the audience.

Anyway... I do appreciate the horse being unnamed, it can be anything now. Thanks, and great song. Well crafted melodically.
Ken - Somewhere, Sk
Could have been derived from a dream.Briar - Hazard, Ky
Drugs,sex, rock-n-roll... I really wish people would get off the "it's all about drugs" kick and just enjoy the music. Sheesh, every song thats out there could concievably be about drugs. About the song, it's a cool song and that's all that is importent so just enjoy the music.Joel - Pine Ridge, Sd
The song has no meaning. It was written while the writer was stoned out of his mind. My wife is related to lead singer Dan Peak, and this is from his own mouthBrian - St Louis, Mo
The fact that the writer of the song says the song meaning has evolved over time goes to show that its a true work of art- its open for interpretation, for appreciation of all sorts. What better way to connect to a song than make the meaning your own. My take on the song: its about someone contemplating life and then going through a spiritual awakening. Even says "journey, looking at all the life".. literally the person is looking at what life is all about.. and the fly buzzing- something that is annoying- shows that its making them feel uncomfortable (challenging your beliefs about life, looking for deeper meaning). Water is associated with emotions so the next part of the journey they are now stripping away all the emotions to get at what else is there in life. Its almost like they've entered a meditative state ('air was full of sound'- sensory feelings heightened)..The horse with no name is significant b/c in our society, we have to name everything- its what gives us a sense of direction, to bind us to the physical world. Here in this meditative state, you don't have to name things, which shows the person on the journey is totally ok with this horse not having a name. Saying the horse has no name but then in the desert 'you can remember your name' its like saying in this pure state, you can remember who you really are (who we all are). 3rd paragraph: goes from saying the desert fun (something positive) to grasping the negative side of all this awakening- that there once was a river that flowed- kind of like universal consciousness that all people shared and understood- but that its gone now (in the society we live in). I love how the song wraps up: the person realizes that this peaceful state (the desert) is also the same as the waking state of our normal daily life (the ocean), but that its not obvious ('and a perfect disguise above'). The ocean and desert are actually the same thing- the next line "Under the cities lies a heart made of ground") which is funny he doesn't say ocean instead of ground- so its gracious of the author to notice that even in our society there is a real chance for spiritual awakening.. yet the last line kind of says but humans aren't aware enough b/c they cannot love one another, which might be the first step towards the spiritual awakening? Whoa..I think I'm done.Stacey - Vancouver, Bc
OK, nobody has mentioned Claude the horse in a while. So, who has a copy of Edward Dorn's "Gunslinger"? Better yet, anybody else read it?Lalah - Wasilla, Ak
Wow! It seems to me that the many interpretations and comments about the lyrics of this song prove they are not "dumb". to me dumb lyrics are ones you don't even pay attention to or are just over repetitive and meaningless. I loved all of the different ways people people have interpreted this song and am so glad to find other people who think so deeply about music and lyrics like I do. As with all art music is meant to inspire and good art has multiple layers of meaning which may change over time for the person who is experiencing it.Diane - Orlando, Fl
I agree with whats his name: " I understand you been running from the man who goes by the name of the Sandman" is a song you should have on Songfacts. Kim from FloridaKim - St.petersburg,fl, Fl
Drugs or no drugs,put the song "sandman"on here: funny I been there and you been here and we aint had no time to drink that beer...Why cant you see this is a much better song?Kim - St.petersburg,fl, Fl
I always interpreted the lyrics to "A Horse With No Name" as being apocalyptic in nature much like the shocking ending to the original "Planet of the Apes" flick (fyi--the ending for this movie was written by Twilight Zone's Rod Serling), when Charleton Heston is riding a horse through the countryside then through a barren desert till he reaches the ocean and sees what's left of the statue of liberty after thermo-nuclear war has destroyed civilization as he knew it. (The humans would give no love..) Like the lyric writer was the last man on earth. Is it possible that this movie, which came out in 1968, inspired this song in 1972? I'll never forget how blown away I was as a teenager by that statue of liberty scene! Any thoughts on this?Candi - Tampa, Fl
i think they guy thought "it felt good to get out of the rain" because the desert is dry and his life in england was wet and rainy. my mom thinks its about not feeling emotion. the rain being turmoil in his life. and the desert being a metaphor for coming out of the turmoil. so greg, calgary, US. is way off. starting off of the song the fly with a buzz is not inuendo its just a fly that is bothering the sweaty man on his horse. then after 3 days in the desert sun he gets a sun burn and finds a dried up river bed. later after 9 days in the desert he let the horse go free because the desert had turned to sea... or in other words it had rained. the ocean comparison is just that... a comparison of the desert to an ocean. all the desert creature are underground where it is cool during the day and out at night. under the cities lies a heart made of ground but the humans will give no love-refers to the people that live in citys and do not see these beautiful places like the desert.Erik - Brownwood , Tx
'the desert had turned to se'a means that the person is becoming drowned in the desert
Come on people its not that hard to figure out!!
Pearl - Mayer, Az
no 14 to give you no pain = 3... the masonic trinity pplJames - Charleston, Virgin Islands (u.s.)
hey stone mountain guy.. i'm curious about the stxy key - bandaidsrcool on yahoo.. anyone who has a clue drop me a note.James - Charleston, Virgin Islands (u.s.)
ya know, I think it mught be a pro- nature man ruined nature hippie song also.Susan - Tampa, Fl
This is a very neat song. I love how the number of voices on the chorus changes. First the lead singer, then two-part harmony, then three-part harmony. Gotta love it!Meredith - Wauwatosa, Wi
This is a really cool song. I love how the number of voices on the chorus changes. First the main singer, then two-part harmony, then three-part harmony! Gotta love it!Meredith - Wauwatosa, Wi
Oh and about the heroin (or any other method of escape), it is the part that feels good to be out of the rain, where you may find a new euphoric or natural perspective of yourself and remember your name, and no one is there to give ya no pain. But if you stay out in the desert too long that is when you come to the dried up river bed. So the point is travel to the desert remember your name and then hurry back and refresh your new knowledge with some rain.Natalie - Portland, Or
I love this song!!! I don't care what anybody says about America having crappy lyrics, or that the song is annoying and about nothing. America is one of my favorite bands b/c of their lyrics and how positive and happy their songs make me feel. I think this song could very well be about heroin, to someone, but I believe the band meant it to be about anything that "seems" like a pleasant escape turning into a new thing that needs to be escaped from. When we go through heartbreak or loss we think it is so devastating, much like we hate travelling hills and standing in the rain. But then the ground become flat and the air dry and sound quiet, and we miss the rain, the scenery and even the pain. We need to travel through storms and up and down hills to get to our most fulfilling destination and not die bored as hell in the desert. We need love and feeling in order to become the happiest we possibly can in this life. This song to me is about a man who is reminded of how lonely life can get, not if he travels in the desert on a horse with no name, but through life with fear and negativity towards his surroundings. He will one day come to a dried up river bed and see that life has been drained of beauty and purpose.Natalie - Portland, Or
BTW Jay, McCartney firmly maintains that "Hey Jude" was a song he wrote for Julian Lennon to help him get over Lennon's divorce and subsequent marriage to Yoko Ono. "It was optimistic, a hopeful message for Julian" McCartney said about the song. The original lyrics (recently sold) had the song's name (and opening line) as "Hey Jools" his pet name for Julian. It is definitely not about drugs.Marc - Perth, Australia
I think it is a non-sequitur to infer that the song is about heroin merely because a) horse is a
street term for heroin and b) there were lyrics contemporary to this song written with drug references. If that were the case you'd have to accept that "Wildfire" is necessarily about heroin as well and, for that matter, any 60s/70s song written with a reference to horses or a man called Harry or hammers or the term "lady", even.
Marc - Perth, Australia
If you don't think this song is about heroin (not Heroine as some have misakenly written) then you don't think that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Hey Jude, or Puff the Magic Dragon are drug songs either. What is very important to remember, is that the culture of writing songs about drug inducement was very popular at that time.Jay - Olympia, Wa
The problem I have encountered with attempting to decrypt a song's metaphors is that it is easy to make sweeping assumptions along the way. Such as assuming the whole song is only one allegory (like ignoring that song writers may collaborate each imbuing the song with their own private experiences or that one writer may merge divergent experiences into a song) or ignoring what could be crucial metaphors that don't fit a pet thesis. But by far the most important point (and impossible to avoid) is that in the end I can really only interpret lyrics based on my own personal experiences. I often have to remind myself that metaphors are about images and have an holistic or cumulative effect and IMHO this song is far more effective when left whole than when deconstructed.Marc - Perth, Australia
This song is about the journey of life, ?On the first part of the journey
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 a sky with no clouds
the heat was hot and the ground was dry
but the air was full of sound.? Is it not true?
That early in life everything is new and later even through
Life (the desert) was hot and dry there were still new interesting things.

(Chorus) ?I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
it felt good to be out of the rain
in the desert you can remember your name
'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
la la? .... What ever the horse is it carried him out of the rain and pain of Life (the desert)

?After two days in the desert sun
my skin began to turn red
after three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed
and the story it told of a river that flowed
made me sad to think it was dead? In the next stage of Life
he begins to see that Life is burning him. Then in the next stage of Life he looks back at
his childhood (The river bed) and the memories made him sad to think his child hood was dead killed by the Life (the desert).

?After nine days I let the horse run free
'cause the desert had turned to sea? Life (the desert) was killing him with the possibility of drowning in it. That is what the reference to the desert turning to sea means.
there were plants and birds and rocks and things
there was sand and hills and rings
the ocean is a desert with its life underground
and a perfect disguise above
under the cities lies a heart made of ground
but the humans will give no love? By letting the horse run free Life was new again, this is why the reference to the plants the rocks and birds and things an the and hills and rings. Now the really important part a peaceful ocean can be deceiving, however the Life (the desert) was still there. But even with horse running free he sees the real problem of life. The hearts of the city dwellers were hearts made of ground causing the humans to give no love. The horse made him forget his trouble for a time however he could still see the real issue heartless humanity. Still this song always makes me feel better because I know I?m not the only one that sees things in this light.
Kim - Asheboro, Nc
This is one of those songs so rich with esoteric metaphors that it is impossible to be certain what the premise of the song is. Certainly I?ve never read or heard that the band gave any clues as to what it could mean. And I think with this song, if you get caught up in decrypting its metaphors, you miss their collective point ? to excite the listener?s imagination with powerful and vivid images. Can you believe there is anyone who can listen to this song and not have it evoke in their mind wild and bright dreamlike visuals of deserts, horses, azure skies bound by the unfathomable givens (such as the horse with no name). When listening or singing along to it (just like with a lucid dream) these mysteries are all facts that at the moment of experience do not require explanation and it doesn?t seem to matter why the horse is nameless ? it just augments the surreal beauty of the image.Marc - Perth, Australia
O_o Geez, enough with the dumb arguments! Someone get "Sandman" on here!Matthew - Milford, Ma
"After nine days I let the horse run free
cause the desert had turned to sea
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The ocean is a desert with its life underground
And a perfect disguise above" If you read this carefully you will see what he is talking about, the sea is land and the desert is the sea, thats why he says the ocean is a desert with its life underground, he starts off in the city on this song, "The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound" then the analogy kicks in and he talks about how he was out a sea probably on a boat that didnt have a name. The second day his skin turned red because of the sun, the third day he was looking for a river bed(if your standng on a riverbed your on land) and he was prolly getting sea sick thats why the story of a river that flowed had been dead. the ninth day they found land so he didnt need the boat(the horse) any more.
Greg - Ludlow, Ky
"The desert had turned to sea." What's with that? Can a desert really sink below sea level like that? Is this "desert" very close to the coast? Or did it become a sea still surrounded by land? "The ocean is a desert with its life underground." What kind of biology underground? What lives underground beneath the ocean? Should I take higher-level biology classes? LOLAndrew - Birmingham, United States
I like this song's imagery. Don't really care about the drug references though. We are all free to interepret lyrics any way we like. BTW I am writing this while on anti-psycotic meds so please excuse the typos.Joel - Columbia, Sc
oops...Typo...What I meant to write is "Trust Me, this song is NOT about herion"

my bad...I'm going to shoot up now
Gene - Mobile, Al
This song is in the game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" on the radio station "KDS-T".

Awesome song.
Koolguy - The Ozarks, United States
Anybody who thinks that "Horse With No Name" is about drugs doesn't know Dewy Bunnell or much about America's music. Sheesh!Greg - Mt. Vernon, Oh
in refernce to Ken's comment about this being the only hit that wasn't produced by George Martin, let me help you out here. Sir George started producing the albums in 1974 with their 4th release ("Holiday"). He continued on until 1979 with Silent Letter - 7 albums in all.Gene - Mobile, Al
Trust me when I tell you that the song is about Herion. The song was written by Dewey Bunnell when he was in his late teens in his bedroom on a rainy day in England. The song represents freedom, being out in the open desert with no place really to go, and the name of the horse doesn't matter.

Still I always liked what Sam Kinnison said -"Give the horse a name, get a life and GET OUT OF THE DESERT!"
Gene - Mobile, Al
does it matter what it meant in the authors mind , but how it makes you think ..... the imagination it helps people create when they are listening to it
peace and blessings
Audrey - Winston-salem , Nc
dude i love this song!!!Ben - Ashland, Oh
Re: giving the horse a name - remember, he's just going to turn the horse loose after nine days anyway, and if someone else comes into possession of the horse after that, he/she has no way of knowing what name, if any, the horse answers to. Giving it a name would probably just make for a frustrated new owner/rider and a thoroughly confused horse. So, maybe it's for the best that the song's protagonist never gave the horse a name.Joshua - Twin Cities, Mn
This song is about being on heroine. What he describes is what he sees when hes on heroine. The different days are when he was tripping and he was so fried that he couldn't remember the horses name.Sean - Cary, Nc
This was one of my favorite songs as a child, and I still enjoy it greatly. I wish they had made a video for it when music videos were really in during the 1980's. It conjures up some great imagery.Mike - Santa Barbara, Ca
The song is about the journey we all make in search of ourselves. It really not that hard to figure out -- unless you are an idiot.Gordie - Philadelphia, Pa
Get real... The American Association of Songwriters has awarded this song 1st Place on the "Dumbest Lyrical Content of All Time" for 19 years in a row, and the only other songs that have come close were the Monkees "Your Aunti Grizelda" and The Monkees "Gonna Buy Me A Dog."Jefferson - Salt Lake City, Ut
One of my 3 favorite songs, along with "Roundabout" and "Mother and Child Reunion." I never thought about what the songwriter meant, only what it meant to me. For me, since I was 12-13 years old, it has been a song about relief, about riding away from my parents, in particular. As I ride away on my horse, I can finally remember my own name, what I call myself, without the negative (and even positive) influences of those who think they know me better than I know myself, from those who impress upon me what they think is good for me. The desert heat feels good on my aching body. The sounds pull me out of my weary mind. I can think about the world around me, musing on the desert as an ocean, and that the ocean is a desert, too, and that in other eras the ocean WAS dry land until the water covered it over. After healing time passes, and because all life deserves to go its own way as I am doing, I "let the horse run free," and I am alone, content, at peace with my surroundings and myself. Not only the lyrics are moving, meaningful, and forward-looking to me: the music also soothes and refreshes me. When it comes on the radio, I fill with pleasure from the first notes.Suzy - Indianapolis, In
I also think it was about the state of the country at the time it was written...but unlike other here I think it is one of the most boring songs ever recorded...sorry.Mike - Ann Arbor, Mi
maybe the desert wasn't even there, and the horse Claude was dreamingPete - Nowra, Australia
horse with no name is the best song i have ever heard and i play the guitar and i always play it my mum tells me 2 stop but i can't stop.

Rose - Melbourne, Australia
well its now official the horse's name is CLAUDE, to celebrate lets all go out and get a drink.....what are yous having??????Pete - Nowra, Australia
Sara, I love your interpretation of the song...finally an interpretation that doesn't have to do with drugs.
I personally think that it is a hippie song talking about Man's rape of the land and disrespect for nature.
Brandon - Peoria, Il
he's been through the desert on a horse . . . with no name. Maybe there are two in the saddle and the second person didn't have a name. The horse's name was Claude but since they were in the desert nobody had to remember it. . .Lalah - Wasilla, Ak
Probably one of my favorite songs. This songs seems like a story to me about a guy who ate peyote cactus (potent halluciongen-like the kind they eat on Beavis and Butthead do America) and he's hallucinating. The character in the song probably ate the peyote in the desert and since he's probably tripping, he can't remember the horse's name or something like that. Great song!Joey - Corpus Christi, Tx
Holy cow. I freakin' love this song. I dont care if this song is about drugs or not. Regardless, this song rules the world. Well, not really, but this song is SO awesome.Mandy - Calgary
I may be young but I think this song is about the singers life. He is obviously looking for something more, something else. The way the desert is described, 'The heat was hot and the ground was dry,' that doesn't sound like a comforting place. The desert isn't somewhere he wants to be, its kind of like a middle ground. Between what is a good life and which is a bad one. 'It felt good to be out of the rain' good be a metaphorical meaning for that luckily he was no longer depressed but he wasn't excatly happy yet either. The line about remembering your name, when your depressed because you have been degraded or oppressed you can sometimes forget who you are. The horse with no name could represent his baggage of his former mistreatings and the fact that he has no name could be his past life of insults. The time that it goes by two days, three days, nine days... He's tired of simply existing and not living. After nine days he let the horse free, releasing his sadness and memories of his pain. He finally accepts human behaviour, and accepts that we are as we are and that the only real content you live with is yourself and the ground you walk on. It seems to me, he killed himself. Because it says that he let go but he still knew that hmans couldn't give love and maybe that was just to much for the character and he gave up. Oh. And CLaude is a good name for the horse.Sara - Cambridge, Canada
Can you imagine this horse taking part in the Grand National at Aintree in Liverpool.
"and its Dewey Bunnell approaching Becher's Brook on.....sorry,but theres No Name listed"
Terry - Northampton, England
I feel this is a song about the state of America at that time it was written. As a kind of desert or dead piece of land,where the citizens 'use' horses or other "vehicles" to get what they want.
The name of the 'horse' is not important or simply doesn't matter to the one who uses it for their selfish desires.
But the lyric,"a fly with no buzz" could refer to a 'joint' that has lost it's potency somehow, meaning even the power of drugs have died in this metaphor of a dead land.
Just how I see it...
David - Atlanta, Ga
This song has been debated over the years. All I can say is believe what you want. Only the members of America really know what the song is about.Scott - Lewisville, Tx
Okay gang, read my lips: HWNN WAS NOT ABOUT HEROINE, OR ANY OTHER DRUG. Got it?

I heard it from the horse's mouth; no pun intended. Dewey Bunnell himself has said that the song was based on his memories of exploring the deserts of the West, with his brother, when he was a kid. I've heard wankers like Randy "Short People" Newman making fun of the song, saying it was about "some kid who thinks he's on heroine," etc. That's all baloney. I think Newman was probably just jealous of America's success.
John - Atlanta, Ga
I think this is one of the greatest songs in modern times and as always there's a lot of mistery in it, specially if your mind has been affected for some type of external substances.But as I said the same mistery happen with other great songs of the time.Just enjoy your ride on the horse.Rauleo - Acapulco, Mexico
Jonathan- I'm picking up your sarcasm. Have you ever heard the term, "He's back on the horse." That means you relapsed. The "Desert" refers to the isolation and longing that comes with addiction. Although there is longing for it, it feels good to get out of the "rain". You get to enjoy the little things again i.e. "Plants and birds and rocks and things"Joe - Charlotte, Nc
The song is obviously about drugs. Let's examine the facts: The song was written in the United Kngdom where 99.9999999% of the population has been calling a horse a horse for the past 800 or so years. On the otherside of the Atlantic some college students and hippies had been using the word "Horse" as one of hundreds to describe heroin (Comprising about 0.000000001% of the population at the most)for the past few years. Using all logic the song MUST be about drugs.Jonathan - Perth, Australia
I thought Neil Young was straight?Kelli - Cedar Rapids, Ia
I actually slept with neil young during the 70's
he was a good lover
Max - Sydney, Australia
In the desert you can remember your name
'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
Russell - Ca
This talks about life at first we see it feel smeel it, and it is all joy. Then we get surronded by people that are just concerd with gain, then comes the pain. only in the isolation of the dessert can nature nurture the soul. The river that flowed was the joy in life that had died. The horse was let free ie..{drugs,spouse,family,failure,etc}because this was what drove him to the dessert, to remember his name you would remember the pain. Then without forgivness you would be the same. And to be happy in society you must always give love to find it and stay conected to natureRon - Dallas, Tx
I agree. Claude would be a good name. I vote we name the horse Claude.Charles - Bronxville, Ny
one word 'CLASSIC' simpleMarlow - Perth, Australia
Here's an idea that may just settle the debate: Whether or not the song itself is about drugs, the band was obviously high when they wrote it! Do sober people write things like "the heat was hot"? No! You would have to be on drugs to write crap like this! To prove my point: look at the lyrics of other America songs, like "Tin Man." What the crap is the Tropic of Sir Galahad? Somebody was high....Brock - Provo, Ut
I've read all these comments. This is not a song about drugs. The muse has clearly been at work here. The song follows a logical progression and is concerned with the universal theme of the journey towards finding your true sense of self. By travelling with your persona - (horse with no name) through desert (place away from societies influences) you can remember your name (sense of self) until you reach the ocean (your essence/core self) where you dont need a horse (persona) anymore.Radical - London, England
It is possible that Dewey Bunnell was deliberately trying to imitate Neil Young's singing style as well as the slightly surreal cast of the lyrics. Mr. Young had a backup band called Crazy Horse and sometimes used horse imagery in songs, more with an eye to the glamorized history of the Old West than heroin (although considering Danny Whitten's demise, heroin was there, too).Ekristheh - Halath, United States
I think this song is about cocaine. " I been through the desert on a horse with no name, it felt good to be out of the rain, in the desert you cant remember your name " I think all that is a reference to being high on coke.Jonathan - Deltona, Fl
This song was sometimes referred to by a nickname title, "Horse With No Neil", to remind listeners that it was not Neil Young singing.Justin - Glen Burnie, Md
it makes sense why this song would be about drugs, from reading all these interpretations, but I think it's ablut being in the desert, or maybe a road trip across America, the country.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Of America's string of hits in the 1970's, this was the only one not produced by George Martin. He became thre group's producer starting with their second album through their "Greatest Hits" LP in the late 70's.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Thanks, dude! You know, it's very strange because I just read your comment under "How Soon Is Now" by the Smiths in which you raised the question: the last great rock song? I almost put a comment after that, because it got me thinking about it. My first reaction was, "Come on, there've been no great rock songs in the last 20 years? What about Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, etc. etc." But I think I see what you mean, too. As far as the truly epic, 70's style songs go, there really haven't been too many. But perhaps we should continue this dialog under "How Soon Is Now" rather than "A Horse With No Name." Or better yet, e-mail me at Ashjr@charter.net. And sure, I loves me some Thai stick!!!Ash - Charleston, Wv
Also, it does rain in the desert. Not very often, but it does.Craig - Madison, Wi
Ash, you're my hero. It's about time somebody finally said it. People have got to get out of English 101 and their college dorm fascinations. Not all martyrs are christ figures; not all long thin objects are phallic symbols (even if they might be a weapon), and not all songs written between 1965 and 1975 were about drugs. Great job Ash, next time I'm in West Virginia, we'll smoke a Thai Stick together.Craig - Madison, Wi
I always thought the song "White Chirstmas" must be about drugs because you know, white=cocaine. And in the U.S. national anthem, there are all sorts of images about rockets red (reds! those are drugs) glare, bombs bursting in air and stuff like the guy that wrote it was clearly having hallucinations, so that song was definitely about drugs. And don't even get me started on "Danny, Boy." The pipes, the pipes are calling!!! The point is, people, you can find drug references in everything. NOT EVERY SONG IS ABOUT DRUGS, FOLKS!!!!Ash - Charleston, Wv
The horse in this song I have been told by many people represents weed wraped in brown paper. On another note the similarities are evident and almost undeniable the the song is about some type of drug: When he says "There was sand and hills and RAIN" This shows that there must be something dissoriented with what he is seeing (probably a hallucination. Later this is strangely countered by saying "It felt good to be out of the rain" This is odd and I never really got that. When he says "After nine days I let the horse run free cause the desert had turned to sea" this to my knowledge implies that he must have started to hallucinate too much and got scared so he threw away his weed for fear of seing more "rain" (weird or scary thing). "The ocean is a desert with it's life underground and a perfect disguise above" The Ocean representing the pinnacle of a buzz(or hi)and it is almost commemerating the drug, saying that it put a perfect disguise on life and makes it...awesome(couldn't think of a better word. "Under the cities lies a heart made of ground but the humans will give no love" Is reffering to the drugs secrecy and how people won't except that the altered reality during a hi.
(I would like to point out that none of these ideas are specifically true this is just my sketch on the meaning of this bizzare song, It is one of those songs like "Smells like teen spirit" that will never be truly understood)
Ben - Perth, Canada
how about naming the horse Claude ...Claude's a good namePete - Nowra, Australia
i love this song, everyone was saying it was by neil young but i never really thought it was, turns out i was right, but it sounds alot like himDexter - Cape Broyle, Canada
What if horse with no name was acid and the song was about an acid trip in the desert?Thomas - Ogden, United States
Tack, San Antonio, TX--- I read your comment, i totally agree man.Anthony - Merritt, Canada
You know as much as everyone wants to make every song from the 60s and 70s a hidden reference to drugs, and acknowledging that "horse" is a well-known slang for heroin, I see absolutely no evidence that this has anything to do with drugs. If you dig really deep and think as abstractly as possible I think this is is about...travelling across the desert to the sea, probably in the American southwest.

I live in the desert, and I think the experiences described in the lyrics are common to most people who experience the desert, especially for the first time. The line "The desert is an ocean with its life underground" is something I think anyone who has spent any time in the desert, with its rolling hills and deep valleys, and burrow holes everywhere, could understand. The fact of the matter is, that in the United States, the desert is dead only at first glance, and here in the Sonoran desert, we have literal forests of saguaro cactuses, and in fact the town north of Tucson where I live, Marana, is a word that means something like "tangled underbrush," though it is a desert by any standard nonetheless.

It is the realization of this that makes the desert a peaceful, restful place for those who can totally grok it (not everyone can; the desert is not for everyone, though everyone should visit it at least once). The sole mystery to me in this song is the last bit about how "the humans will give no love" which may well just be an Aquarian Age reference.

I think there are definitely songs with hidden meanings and subtexts, but I don't think this is one of them, especially not if you know the rest of America's work. California, Revisted and Sandman are two examples of America tackling a specific issue; cloaking things in deep metaphor for the purpose of obscuring meaning isn't something they seem to be very much into. And if it is true that they formed as children of American servicemen stationed in the UK, the song makes even more sense, given the contrast in climate and how striking the desert must have seemed in comparison.

While America was a band of its time, I never really took them as particularly hardcore in terms of excess. And if this song is about heroin, it's not very well written. This website is the first time I've ever heard anyone make that claim.
Chris - Marana, Az
Lots of highly creative views here on what this song is "Actually" about, but I notice no-one offers any actual evidence supporting their theories. I suspect these interpretations probably say more about those expressing them, than the motives of the song's creators.Danskii - London, England
According to Billboard's Book of Number One Hits, the song was inspired by the area around Vandenberg AFB in central California where the band members once lived as children. Very dry terrain does meet the Pacific Coast. It is not desert, but compared to England (where the boys were living at the time as sons of Air Force personnel) Vandenberg would seem like a desert. I'm sure that memories of the area evoked vague dream-like visions where details really did not matter. There are horses in the area -- now whether they have names, that is a different story.John - Santa Maria, Ca
This song is clearly about a breakup between two lovers (or rather the aftermath of this breakup). The "horse with no name" is a rebound fling that the singer had. "It felt good to be out of the rain" since he was no longer crying and sad. "...there ain't no one for to give you no pain" shows that while he was with this new lover (the horse with no name in the desert) he wasn't feeling sad from the breakup. In the beginning of the song, he talks about the first part of this journey and looking at all the (new) life. In other words, a new beginning. In the second chorus, he talks about a dry riverbed and then becoming sad since he remembers the river that flowed (the love he had for his ex which is now replaced by a dry emotionalist fling). After nine days he let the horse run free since she had serve her purpose which was to get over his ex, but after listening to the final verse, you have to wonder if he is any better off than if he had never rode the horse.Tack - San Antonio, Tx
as pointed out by Q magazine (UK publication)this is a great song for the open road. Sitting behind the wheel and driving on some wide open roadways.Gary - Maple Shade, Nj
This song is very often mislabled in mp3 form as being by Neil Young.Aaron - New Glasgow, Canada
Bottom line-it's aneat song, whatever it meansSteve - Willmar, Mn
The beauty of the song is that the tune seems to match perfectly in rhythm with the trot of a true horse. I feel that anyone who listens to it for the first time can imagine the singer is riding on his horse crossing a vast desert, stranded in it, not knowing when he'll reach his destination. He has nothing else to do but sing, just to keep him going and keep his sanity. Whether the lyrics are about drugs or not-which I have reservations about-I have no objection that this song is legendry.Aziz - London, England
I think the 'fly with a buzz' was the only drug inuendo in the song and that started others looking for deeper symbols. I think the writer had a good melody and started throwing words at it...and wound up with an accidental hit. It takes me back to my high school days.Rich - Elkins, Wv
Horse is a name for heroin. the desert is a metaphor for withdrawl from the drug. He comes across a "fly with a buzz". buzz is a simile with high. A sky with no clouds is a simbol of no help. Being out of the rain is being out of the endless circle of having to pay for drugs. THe skin turning red is something which happens during a withdrawl. Looking at the dead river bed is a metaphor for learning about something or someone dieing, I dont know. After the ninth day, he lets the horse run free, meaning he stops using heroin.57 - Norwich, Ct
This song I believe, is about a drug adiction that the guy had...but since he was famous, all that his fans saw was him as a musician-not him as a drug adict. And this song just describes how he wasn't just a singer, and that the people who were his fans were mistaken.Ethan - San Leandro, Ca
I think that Geoff's interpretation nails it on the head.Tyler - Iowa City, Ia
This song does in fact relate to drugs because in the 1970's people would go into empty fields, or deserts and get high/stoned whatever you do on heroin. Yet I do like the song.Ashley - St. Paul, Mn
Just a thought, maybe the horse has no name because the name wasn't important, the experience was. By naming the horse the rider would be inflicting the same kind of oppresion he was escaping from ("in the desert you can remember your name,cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain").
I'm not sure if that made sense, but it did to me. Anyway, its a great song, and I never could believe it's about drugs
Geoff - Adelaide, Australia
A study in irony. The guy thinks "it felt good to be out of the rain", although in a desert you'd logically want rain. One would think you'd forget your name in the desert because no-one talks to you using it. Also, as noted by Valerie, if you were riding through the desert with a horse, wouldn't you logically name it? I think America were trying to see if they could mask absurd statements like that with great music so no one would consider the stupidity of it all. It worked.Greg - Calgary, United States
This song drives me up the wall insane. A guy, a horse with no BLEEPing name and he's riding through the desert. He has nothing better to do than just NAME THE HORSE!!!!!!Valerie - Boise, Id
If there was no name, then how could it be about something with several names. Ya, those kids on Army bases were doing heroin everywhere...they hid in on the space ships' in area 51..... I don't think it was about drugs.Tim - Livonia, Mi
In a music class in college back in the 1970's, 'horse' was another name for heroine - the group, America, was not all that innocentBruce - Stone Mountain, Ga
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