Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones song)

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"Wild Horses"
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Sticky Fingers
B-side "Sway"
Released 12 June 1971
Format 7"
Recorded December 1969 – February 1970
Length 5:42
Label Rolling Stones Records
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"Brown Sugar"
"Wild Horses"
"Tumbling Dice"
Sticky Fingers track listing
Promo CD of Stripped version of "Wild Horses"

"Wild Horses" is a song by The Rolling Stones from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Rolling Stone ranked it at No. 334 in its "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list in 2004.

Inspiration and recording[edit]

In the liner notes to the 1993 Rolling Stones compilation album Jump Back, Jagger states, "I remember we sat around originally doing this with Gram Parsons, and I think his version came out slightly before ours. Everyone always says this was written about Marianne but I don't think it was; that was all well over by then. But I was definitely very inside this piece emotionally." Richards says, "If there is a classic way of Mick and me working together this is it. I had the riff and chorus line, Mick got stuck into the verses. Just like "Satisfaction". "Wild Horses" was about the usual thing of not wanting to be on the road, being a million miles from where you want to be."[1]

Originally recorded over a three-day period at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama during 2–4 December 1969 while Albert and David Maysles were shooting for the film that was titled Gimme Shelter, the song was not released until over a year later due to legal wranglings with the band's former label.[citation needed] Along with "Brown Sugar", it is one of the two Rolling Stones compositions from Sticky Fingers (1971) over which ABKCO Records co-owns the rights along with the Stones. It features session player Jim Dickinson on piano, Richards on electric guitar and twelve-string acoustic guitar, and Mick Taylor on acoustic guitar. Taylor uses Nashville tuning, in which the EADG strings of the acoustic guitar are strung one octave higher than in standard tuning. Ian Stewart was present at the session, but refused to perform the piano part on the track due to the prevalence of minor chords, which he disliked playing.[2]

Music video[edit]

A music video, filmed in black and white was produced to promote an acoustic version in 1995.[3]

Release and legacy[edit]

Released as the second U.S.-only single in June 1971, "Wild Horses" reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

An early, acoustic take of "Wild Horses" was released on the Deluxe and Super Deluxe versions of the reissued Sticky Fingers album on June 8, 2015.

A reworked studio version recorded in 1995 appeared on the album Stripped. This version was released as a single in early 1996.

The song appears on a handful of the Rolling Stones' concert DVDs: Bridges to Babylon Tour '97–98 (1998), Rolling Stones - Four Flicks (2003), and The Biggest Bang (2007).

Jagger's ex-wife, Jerry Hall, has named "Wild Horses" as her favourite Rolling Stones song.[4]

"Wild Horses" figures prominently in the films Adaptation (2002) and Camp (2003). On television, the song was played during Parks and Recreation S3: E16 as background music to Lil' Sebastion's memorial service, and was used during the Season 1 finale of Bojack Horseman in the Episode "Later".

In the TV version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the cover version by The Sundays is used for Angel's appearance at Buffy's prom in "Prom", Season 3 Episode 20.

An instrumental version of the song is featured during the end credits of Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary film Shine a Light (2008).


The Rolling Stones
Additional personnel


Chart (1971) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[5] 11
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 28
Chart (1996) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[7] 59
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[8] 53

Cover versions[edit]

Studio versions[edit]

One year prior to its release on Sticky Fingers, Gram Parsons convinced Jagger and Richards to allow him to record "Wild Horses" with his band The Flying Burrito Brothers. He'd become good friends with Richards and helped with the orchestration of "Country Honk" as it appeared on the album Let It Bleed. The song was included on the album Burrito Deluxe released in April 1970.[9]

Leon Russell recorded the song in 1974 for his album Stop All That Jazz, and again in 1998 for the multi-artist tribute album Cover You: A Tribute to the Rolling Stones. Leon played piano on the original Burrito Brothers recording of the song on Burrito Deluxe.

The bluegrass band Old and in the Way released a version of the song on their 1975 debut album.

The song was prominently covered by British dream-pop group The Sundays, for the B-side of their 1992 single "Goodbye". This version was featured in the 1996 thriller film Fear, the CSI episode "Crash and Burn", the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Prom", and was released on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album compilation. The Sundays' cover was also used in a television advertisement for Budweiser beer in the mid-1990s, featuring slow-motion footage of galloping Clydesdale horses.

Otis Clay recorded the song for the 1997 tribute album Paint It Blue: Songs of the Rolling Stones.

A cover version by Neil McCarthy and Ivo Matos appeared on the 2011 album Paint It Black An Alt Country Tribute To The Rolling Stones.[10]

In 2009 Susan Boyle recorded a version as the opening track of her I Dreamed a Dream album.

Live performances[edit]

It has proven to be a popular live cover song for other artists. It has been covered by Susan Boyle, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals,[11] The Black Crowes, Deborah Harry, The Avett Brothers,[12] Garbage, Elvis Costello with Lucinda Williams, Neil Young, Gary Stewart, Old and in the Way, Leon Russell, Guns N' Roses, Johnny Goudie, Gregory Isaacs, Bush, Labelle, Robin Williamson, Jewel, Dave Matthews, Indigo Girls, Charlotte Martin, Kelly Clarkson, Chantal Kreviazuk, Molly Hatchet, Alicia Keys featuring Adam Levine, Tre Lux, Flowing Tears, Iron & Wine, Stone Sour, Honeytribe, Sheryl Crow, Deacon Blue, Elisa, Melanie Safka, John Barrowman, The Sundays, BlackHawk, The Lovemongers with Chris Cornell, Corey Taylor, Richard Marx with Jessica Andrews, Robert Francis, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Solveig Slettahjell. In 2007, Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps used the song for their field show, "Triple Crown", and Daniel Letterle sang it in the film Camp. Dave Matthews performed a live duet of the song with Jagger, backed by the Rolling Stones, on 12 December 1997 in St. Louis, Missouri (released officially on the Bridges to Babylon Tour live DVD). Aly Michalka covered the song in a Hellcats episode. Willie Nelson and the Nelson Family covered the song and issued a video to help the Animal Welfare Institute campaign to protect wild horses in America.[13]

On the first season of the American version of The X Factor in 2011, contestant Josh Krajcik performed a rendition of the song solo while playing the piano as his fifth live performance.

Haley Reinhart sang a version with Slash and Myles Kennedy at the 18th Annual Power of Love Gala for Muhammad Ali.

Cui Jian performed this song with the Rolling Stones during A Bigger Bang Tour in Shanghai, 2006.

The song was performed on the American television series The Voice by Sarah Simmons in 2013 and Bria Kelly in 2014.

Miley Cyrus covered this song during her Bangerz Tour in Europe in 2014.


  1. ^ "Wild Horses". Time Is On Our Side. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  2. ^ Wyman 2002. p. 482.
  3. ^ "Wild Horses - The Rolling Stones 1995". YouTube. 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  4. ^ Odell, Michael (29 April 2007). "This much I know: Jerry Hall, actor and model, 50, London". The Observer. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5351." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  6. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for The Rolling Stones. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2933." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  9. ^ Einarson, John (2001). Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 166, 179. ISBN 9780815410652. 
  10. ^ "Review: Various Artists, 'Paint It Black: An Alt Country Tribute To The Rolling Stones' » Cover Me". Covermesongs.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  11. ^ "Grace Potter live - Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones cover) - at Fabrik in Hamburg 2013-03-05". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  12. ^ "Rolling Stones-Wild Horses". YouTube. 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  13. ^ "Willie & The Nelson Family | Animal Welfare Institute". Awionline.org. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 

External links[edit]