Crazy Horses

Album: Crazy Horses (1972)
Charted: 2 14
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Songfacts®:

  • Your ears do not deceive you: This is a rock song by The Osmonds, the wholesome family known for pop hits like "One Bad Apple." By the time the album was released in 1972, Donny Osmond, the youngest member of the group, was also making pop music targeted to teenage girls, and in America, the word "Osmond" brought to mind his hits like "Puppy Love" and "Hey Girl." But the Osmonds really could rock, and "Crazy Horses" proved it.

    "Ozzy Osbourne actually told me that 'Crazy Horses' is one of his favorite rock and roll songs," Donny told Songfacts. "The problem is my teenybopper career was selling like crazy and it overshadowed anything we did as a rock and roll band."
  • The song is about air pollution. "Crazy Horses" represents automobiles - "horsepower" - that create pollution in the skies from the exhaust.
  • This was written by Alan, Merrill and Wayne Osmond; it was sung by Merrill. They were the oldest of the group, who were all fathers and concerned about the polluted world their children would inherit.
  • "Crazy Horses" was just a minor hit in America, where it peaked at #14, but it was much bigger in the UK, where it went to #2. The group's rock material did a lot better there.
  • The Osmonds rocked out on their next album as well, The Plan, which was imbued with Mormon theology. Knowing it would be a tough sell to radio stations, they had their reps bring it to program directors without identifying the group, revealing the artist only after they had an impartial listen.
  • The electronic-sounding intro is not a theremin, but a YP-30 Yamaha organ with a portamento slide. Donny Osmond told Songfacts: "We had a wall of Marshalls in the studio. It was so loud that you couldn't even walk in the studio, so we had to play the organ from the control room.

    My brother Alan actually played it on the record. I played it live. But the secret to it was a wah-wah pedal. We opened the wah-wah just enough to get that really harsh kind of a piercing sound, but it was the loudness of the Marshalls that got us that sound. And then we doubled it. That was the secret to that sound."
  • This song was initially banned in South Africa because "horses" is a slang term for heroin there, so "crazy horses" was thought to be referring to drugs.

Comments: 18

  • AnonymousWayne sang it!
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiThe Osmonds should have just stuck to pop music. This has to be the cringiest (if that's a word) song ever. I can't imagine anyone dancing or singing along with this ever.
  • Allona from CanadaOnly two songs on here by The Osmonds? They had more hits than that.
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrThe horse "noise" was indeed a Yamaha, with what they called a Theramin Bar.
  • Nancy from Isle Of Wight, United Kingdomjust in case anyone else came here trying to find out what they used to make the "Screaming" sound, it was a Yamaha YC-45D combo organ apparently.
  • Ammy from Oklahoma City, OkFirstly, I think the song makes most sense as a protest of pollution, especially in light of the lyrics "Crazy horses all got riders, and they're you and me." After all, cars and other fossil fuel-powered transportation devices resemble horses insomuch as horses were the transportation device for centuries and centuries before cars were ever invented. Also, cars "smoke up the sky," and, if compared to a horse as it's prototype does, indeed, seem crazy.

    Also, although,I don't mean to make this a discussion about Mormonism, but seeing as it could be related to the interpretation of the song, I feel I should make a correction to the comment about "Mormon laws." While Mormons are supposed to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, and sex outside of marriage, and although many do abstain from caffeine, they are not prohibited from consuming caffeine, and sex within marriage, even if only to express mutual affection without the intent to create life, is perfectly allowed.

  • Jordan from Los Angeles, CaThe Osmonds never smoked in their entire lives, due to the strict Mormon laws, that also prohibit them from consuming alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, as well as gambling, pornography, pre-marital sex, and recreational sex while married, except for the sole purposes of producing children.
  • Gina from Hiawatha, IaDid anyone hear the recut on Donny Osmond's 2002 CD "Somewhere In Time"? Donny said a while back on Graham Norton's BBC program that his brothers backed him up on it.
  • Shaun from Luton, Englandthis is an anti pollution song i think time shows this as a 70's classic.check out the re mix with the utah saints.
  • Ted from London Town, EnglandThis song IS about cars and buses. At least two of the osmonds were smoking when this was released as it was after all 70's america. n Anyway, LISTEN TO THE LYRICS
  • Neil from MiddlesbroughGlam Metal Detectives did a Cover Version in 1995.
  • Bobbie from Central, NmI was 13 when my sister lugged the 45 version of this home in the 70s. I thought it was a desperate attempt for the Osmonds to break away from bubbble gum music, and into hard rock
  • Vince from Tucson, AzHow come One Bad Apple (the song that started it all for the Osmonds) isn't listed?
  • Wes from Springfield, VaOne of the very few Osmond songs that rock (another being perhaps Traffic on my Mind). I have always mentally toyed with the notion of attching Donny to some electrical wires to provoke that screaming sound at the beginning. Not much of an Osmonds fan if you couldn't tell.
  • Paul from Glasgow, ScotlandIn the early eighties, before there were enough doomy goth records to fill a club night, goth DJ's used to play the 45rpm version of this at 33rpm. Try it if you like that sort of stuff.
  • Artimus from Oxford, EnglandThe Independent: Where did the inspiration for the song "Crazy Horses" come from?
    Donny Osmond: It was Alan, Wayne and Merrill who wrote "Crazy Horses". Wayne and Merrill were in the studio and Wayne had started the main riff for the song. Then Alan came in and brought a cohesive concept about pollution: the horses being horsepower. Then Merrill added the "crazy" before the horses. It's a very serious song.
  • Christie from Edgewater, MdI thought that this was about the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse
  • Oriole from Birmingham, MiThis song was **NOT** about cars or buses - it is an anti-smoking (or cigarette) song! There are many print interviews from that era by the brothers stating such.
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