Runaway Horses

Album: Pressure Machine (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song finds Brandon Flowers recounting the story of him and an ambitious "small town girl." They fall in love and she puts her dreams on ice so they can marry. But the "runaway horses" eventually change courses and go on different paths.
  • Flowers wrote this as a duet and recruited Phoebe Bridgers to add a "female element" to the vocals. He told NME: "She has a little bit of Wild West in her. She has rodeo people in her bloodline. She brought a sadness to the song that's integral to it, but also inherent in her. It was the perfect combination."
  • Bridgers laid down her vocal at studio B at the Sound City studio in Los Angeles. Drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. recounted Bridgers recorded her Punisher album at the same place "so her presence was already there."

    He added: "It was really in the thick of it where LA was really scary during COVID so she didn't stay long. Everybody was wearing masks. It was really quick, but she did it expertly in two takes and got out of there. I think she's perfect for it."
  • The track opens with a recording of a woman describing a sad remembrance of a horse breaking its leg at a Utah rodeo event.
  • Flowers wrote the song himself. The Killers recorded it for their 2021 album Pressure Machine, which is a concept record based on Flowers' childhood in the small, sleepy Utah city of Nephi.
  • "Runaway Horses" is the first part of a trilogy about the star-crossed lovers on the album. "In The Car Outside" finds the young husband's side fighting the temptation to cheat on his wife, and on "In Another Life" the guy questions the choices he made.
  • Shawn Everett and Jonathan Rado (of Foxygen) co-produced this track along with the rest of Pressure Machine. Both of them worked on The Killers' 2020 album Imploding The Mirage.
  • Flowers and Bridgers sang lead on the track; his bandmate Vannucci Jr. played the drums and Dave Keuning returned to the group to play guitar after sitting out the sessions for Imploding the Mirage. There is no bass, as Mark Stoermer wasn't around for the recording because of difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the instrumentation is:

    Strings: Rob Moose
    Piano: Jonathan Rado
    Organ: Jonathan Rado
    Guitars: Jonathan Rado and Joe Pug
    Cello: Gabriel Cabezas

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