Dead Horse

Album: Petals for Armor (2020)
Play Video


  • The phrase "flogging a dead horse" refers to wasting energy on a lost cause. Here, Hayley Williams talks about a relationship that she should have abandoned long before she actually did.
  • The relationship Hayley Williams is referencing is with New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert. It began as an affair back in 2008, when she was 18 and he was married to Eisley vocalist Sherri DuPree-Bemis. They got engaged on Christmas Day 2014 and married 14 months later, but split up in the summer of 2017 after Gilbert cheated on Williams.
  • During the song, Williams comes clean about getting involved with a married man and her shame of what she did to Sherri. After getting married to Gilbert, she tried her best to make the relationship work only for her husband to betray her.

    And after all, it's only fair, yeah
    I got what I deserved; I was the other woman first
    Other others on the line
    But I kept trying to make it work

    Their relationship lasted much longer than it should have, but in the end Williams was flogging a "dead horse."
  • Speaking to Rolling Stone, Williams admitted to feeling guilty throughout her 20s about the way her relationship with Gilbert began. Now, being able to admit it makes her shame less scary. "It gives people a chance to actually know me and decide if they like me or not," she said.
  • Hayley Williams has written about Chad Gilbert before on several Paramore tracks.

    On "All I Wanted" she recalls her insecurities bubbling up when Gilbert goes on tour for the first time after they started their relationship.

    "Still Into You" is a love ballad where Williams discloses there's not a day she's not into her beau.

    On "Be Alone," she recounts her desire for Gilbert's company after moving to Los Angeles to record the Paramore album.
  • Williams wrote nearly all the lyrics for the tune during a flight. She explained in an Instagram post that it is one of the few songs she top-lined for the Petals for Armor album, rather than building it from scratch. She added: "It really gave me a place to put some haunted thoughts I'd carried for far too long."
  • The intro is from a voice note Williams sent her co-writer Daniel James from her bathroom to show him the parts for the song that she'd written.
  • Hayley Williams admitted to Billboard that when she wrote "Dead Horse," she "was very surprised that something that pop-y would come out of me."

    Williams was embarrassed about some of the lyrics and initially planned to shelf the song. The Paramore frontwoman eventually decided that rather than stifling her creative process, she should follow her muse and release the track.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & TearsSongwriter Interviews

The longtime BS&T frontman tells the "Spinning Wheel" story, including the line he got from Joni Mitchell.

Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers

Bill Medley of The Righteous BrothersSongwriter Interviews

Medley looks back on "Unchained Melody" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" - his huge hits from the '60s that were later revived in movies.

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Psychedelic Furs lead singer Richard Butler talks about their first album since 1991 and explains what's really going on in "Pretty In Pink."

Kevin Godley

Kevin GodleySongwriter Interviews

Kevin Godley talks about directing classic videos for The Police, U2 and Duran Duran, and discusses song and videos he made with 10cc and Godley & Creme.

Gavin Rossdale On Lyric Inspirations and Bush's Album The Kingdom

Gavin Rossdale On Lyric Inspirations and Bush's Album The KingdomSongwriter Interviews

The Bush frontman on where he finds inspiration for lyrics, if his "machine head" is a guitar tuner, and the stories behind songs from the album The Kingdom.

Al Jourgensen of Ministry

Al Jourgensen of MinistrySongwriter Interviews

In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.