Muskrat Love

Album: Song of Joy (1976)
Charted: 4
Play Video


  • This was written by the Texas singer Willis Alan Ramsey in 1972, who recorded it as "Muskrat Candlelight." America recorded the song on their 1973 album Hat Trick (it charted at #67 US) before Captain & Tennille recorded their hit version in 1976. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA
  • This song really is about two muskrats making love. It's not to be taken seriously, and even contains synthesized sound effects to simulate the muskrat copulation. This sound was played at the end of the song and included in the end groove of the 45 single, so when the record ended, it played the muskrats on a loop until the record player was attended.
  • America was known for their self-penned, panoramic songs "A Horse With No Name" and "Ventura Highway" when they issued "Muskrat Love" as the first single from their third album, Hat Trick, in 1973. A rather literal cover song about little furry creatures was a questionable career move, and the album underperformed.

    For their next album, they brought in a rainmaker: Beatles producer George Martin. It worked, and they recovered with the hit "Tin Man."
  • This song's composer, Willis Alan Ramsey, is one of the more mysterious men in rock. Based in Austin, Texas, his 1972 self-titled album was released on Shelter Records when he was 21. It quickly got lots of attention, and Ramsey was lauded as a new breed of "progressive country" performer.

    It wasn't just "Muskrat Candlelight" that got covered: The Bellamy Brothers took "Satin Sheets" to #73 in 1976; Jimmy Buffett recorded "The Ballad of Spider John" and "Northeast Texas Women"; Jimmie Dale Gilmore did "Goodbye Old Missoula."

    Ramsey was poised for stardom, but it wasn't to be: He moved to Los Angeles and worked on songs at Leon Russell's home studio, but couldn't get a sound he liked. That lifestyle didn't suit him, so he moved back to Texas and sat out his Shelter contract. In the '80s, he went to the United Kingdom and studied Celtic folk music, eventually moving back to Colorado. From time to time, he is rumored to be working on a second album, but nothing has appeared.
  • This was not the first, or biggest song about a rodent. Michael Jackson had his first #1 as a solo artist with "Ben," a song about a rat, in 1972.

Comments: 18

  • Penny For Texas from TexasI so enjoyed captain and Tennille as growing up. Still like to hear there songs!!
    Is tennille still alive today if so where is she and is she still healthy?
  • Moonshine from Mammoth Springs ArkansasI’m camping along the Spring River watching muskrats and this song was going thru my head. I found out my husband doesn’t remember it! So we played it and I was able to sing along to most of the lyrics! I don’t love or hate the song but will say that I just learned that muskrats are vegans - they don’t eat bacon or cheese!
  • Serg from UkraineMuskrat Love is a sweet and slightly strange song about a romantic relationship between two anthropomorphic muskrats, written by American folk musician Willis Alan Ramsey for his only album released in 1972. The song gained notable popularity in the 1970s largely due to covers by the rock band America and pop music duo Captain & Tennille.

    As noted by Gerry Beckley, America's vocalist, Muskrat Love was a point of contention between the fans and how they perceived the song: some fans regretted that the song was not a part of the band's set, while others expressed gratitude for the lack of this song in the show.

    America's version of the song follows the harmony, tempo, and mood of Willis Alan Ramsey's original recording very closely. The band added polyphonic vocal lines and expanded the arrangement well while leaving the recognizable acoustic guitar riff unchanged. Although America's label Warner Bros was reluctant to release the song as a single, the band insisted on it and Muskrat Love hit the radio.

    Curiously, Willis Alan Ramsey's self-titled album was considered groundbreaking and progressive, an excellent beginning of the successful career ahead of him. Unfortunately, the album remained his only work, supposedly caused by some conflicts with his label, Shelter. Ramsey is regularly asked about the release of his second album to which he usually replies, "What's wrong with the first one?"
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenWhen this song comes on, my hand breaks the sound barrier as it moves to change the station.
  • Penny Lesley from Beyond HellIn memory of my mother...
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaStrange song.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 12th 1973, "Muskrat Love" by America entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #86; and on September 16th,1973 it peaked at #67 {for 1 week} and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100... It reached #11 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...Between 1972 and 1983 the trio had seventeen Top 100 records; seven made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, "A Horse With No Name" for 3 weeks on March 19th, 1972 and "Sister Golden Hair" for 1 week on June 8th, 1975...R.I.P. original member Dan Peek {1950 - 2011}.
  • Brian from Nictaux, NsThis is one of two C&T songs which include the sounds of muskrats, the other is "Tahoe Snow" (from 'the Secret of Chrismas')
  • Brian from Nictaux, NsCaptain & Tennille used to sing this song at the Smokehouse (Encino, CA) constantly. almost every night. Sometimes several times a night at the request of the audience. However, this song almost never become a single because C&T and A&M never thought it had "hit potential". A radio station in Wisconsin was constantly receiving requests to play "that muskrat song" and their Music director called A&M and bet them it would be a hit if they released it as a single. Guess he won!
  • Brian from Nictaux, NsSome copies of this 45 were actually flawed as the needle of the record player went into the center before the ending of the song (the drumming) was finished.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhI remember listening to the 45 of this, and the sped-up synth line...I thought it was a flaw in the record, and it drove me crazy. You mean to tell me that it was done on PURPOSE?
  • Elmer from Westville, OkI remember "Muskrat Love" from 1976. Weird not cute! It got all the way up to #4 on the Billboard charts though. I guess that shows you there's no accounting for bad taste!
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxThe world's collective IQ drops a point every time this song is played.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn July of 1976 First Lady Betty Ford invited the Capt & Tenille to perform at the White House, the Queen of England was a guest at that time. They played "Muskrat Love" and the Queen was the only one who didn't applauded whe they finished the song!!!
  • Jesse from Madison, WiMy 45 plays the synthesized rhythm track at the end of it. And those two frisky muskrats were courtesy of The Captain's E-mu modular synthesizer. Otherwise a great classic and an all time favorite of mine!
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI always think of this song as pornography for rodents.
  • John from Brisbane, United StatesCredit credit and credit more for what they have done to this all so peaceable good music.A ton of flowers is what I want to throw to you on you for this lovely song.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaGreat song! Give Captain & Tenille cresit for recording such a silly song and releasing it as a single. I think a lot of people like it who don't want to admit it.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Divided Souls: Musical Alter Egos

Divided Souls: Musical Alter EgosSong Writing

Long before Eminem, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj created alternate personas, David Bowie, Bono, Joni Mitchell and even Hank Williams took on characters.

Ed Roland of Collective Soul

Ed Roland of Collective SoulSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Shine," "December," "The World I Know" and other Collective Soul hits.

Reverend Horton Heat

Reverend Horton HeatSongwriter Interviews

The Reverend rants on psychobilly and the egghead academics he bashes in one of his more popular songs.

Joe Ely

Joe ElySongwriter Interviews

The renown Texas songwriter has been at it for 40 years, with tales to tell about The Flatlanders and The Clash - that's Joe's Tex-Mex on "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

Eric Clapton

Eric ClaptonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really write "Cocaine" while on cocaine? This question and more in the Clapton edition of Fact or Fiction.

Carl Sturken

Carl SturkenSongwriter Interviews

Hitmaker Carl Sturken on writing and producing for Rihanna, 'N Sync, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Donny Osmond, Shakira and Karyn White.