Bring On The Dancing Horses

Album: Songs To Learn & Sing (1985)
Charted: 21


  • The dancing horses, "headless and all alone," are statues. In a Songfacts interview with lead singer Ian McCulloch, he explained: "It's about the way people would sooner look at statues than themselves. We revere things that tell us about ourselves. It's that thing of how we think art is very important. A life without art, who knows what that would be like? We think the Mona Lisa is this thing that's valuable, when something else isn't."
  • This song first appeared on the Echo & The Bunnymen compilation album Songs To Learn & Sing in 1985, where it was the only new song on the track list. The following year, it was used in the movie Pretty In Pink; it plays in a scene where Molly Ringwald's character shares some banter with her love interest, played by Andrew McCarthy, while she's working in a record store. It's a fitting placement because in America, Echo was a very niche group, known mainly among those with eclectic (some would say pretentious) tastes, including record store employees.

    In the 2000 film High Fidelity, Echo is part of some dialogue that takes place in a record store. When a customer comes in looking for "The Killing Moon" EP, he tells Jack Black's character (an obnoxious clerk prone to upbraiding customers for their tastes in music) that he owns all the other albums by the band. Black then pushes the Jesus And Mary Chain album Psychocandy on him, saying, "They picked up where your precious Echo left off, and you're sitting around complaining about no more Echo albums. I can't believe you don't own this f--king record."
  • Three different characters are named in this song: Jimmy Brown, Charlie Clown and Billy. Ian McCulloch told Songfacts: "It's about, are we statues or are we human? Not like The Killers' thing but it's about heart and soul: 'Jimmy Brown, made of stone.' I'm not Jimmy Brown, I'm someone else. I'm the one who's just shivering and saying 'the words of every lie I've heard.'"
  • Anton Corbijn directed the video, which contains many abstract images, including an anthropomorphic unicorn. Corbijn also did the videos for "Lips Like Sugar" and "Bedbugs And Ballyhoo."
  • Echo & The Bunnymen released a new version on their 2018 album The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon.

Comments: 3

  • Dave Socal from Playa Del ReyThis band had a impact on this man/child in the 80s. Looking back it was definitely pretentious but that's what we (part of this generation) were looking for. Vapid lyrics make them mean what ever you want them to mean. It reminds us of the time as with most music that touches youth. It still sounds like a freedom I can never truly relive.
  • Buzzcutgtr from Lebanon, Nh, UsaI've read the other posts on this page, and now I'm kinda bummed out LOL! I took this song as being in love with a heroin (horse) addict and coming to the realization that - for your own survival - you've got to break it off with him/her. "Hating all the faking, shaking while I'm breaking your brittle heart..." I suppose you could take a lot of snippets of lyrics out of this song and misinterpret them (as I apparently have) -- Jimmy Brown as slang for heroin, "sinking sand, skin and bone" suggesting what drug addiction does to the body. And while I've never personally been in love with a heroin addict, I have attempted romantic entanglements with alcoholics, meth addicts, pill-heads... None of which ever comes to light, of course, until after I've left "my brittle heart" a little too exposed. Anyway, another Gen-Xer heard from. :-)
  • Tony from San DiegoSeriously how am I the first person commenting on this incredible song? One of the alternative 80s classics. Oh, this and The Furs, The Cure Oh, Yaz...
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