Guardian readers recommend: Songs about horses ( videos)


The horse has been long celebrated in story and song. We dream of horses as symbols of strength, freedom and understanding. Below are songs chosen by the British readers of the Guardian – We have included a few of the videos to them are at the end of the article. Submit in the comments your own choices – we would love to hear them. ~ HfH

From: The Guardian

Whooah there! Who knew there were so many great songs about horses? From the hundreds of comments on last week’s blog, I could have easily picked a playlist consisting solely of country rock or Irish folk. Or come to that, of Mongolian throat singing, or deep house.

Horses have been our closest companions throughout history; our transport, our engines, our tanks. They’ve left hoof prints all over the human psyche. Readers recommended songs about horses real, symbolic and phantasmagorical, galloping stallions and trotting ponies, lullabies and night-mares, cowboys and Cossacks, and more than a little innuendo.

Let’s start our ride in Central Asia. Horses, as you probably know, are big in Tuvan folk music.

Huun-Huur-Tu’s first album was called 60 Horses in My Herd: you don’t need to speak Tuvan to be stirred by the whinnies and hoof beats of Chiraa Khoor (“Yellow Trotter”).

The relationship between (wo)man and horse is an intense one, and often rears its head as a love metaphor. The lines are blurred in The Byrds’ Chestnut Mare – the obsession with catching and branding a free-spirited mare who’ll be “just like a wife” reveals troubling attitudes to women, horses, or both. But just breathe in that wonderful widescreen Western air.

Leonard Cohen’s cowboy once nailed iron and gold to his stray mare’s feet, but by the end “there’s no need for the whip, no need for the rein”. In a photo finish, his Ballad of the Absent Mare edges out Emmylou Harris’s version, Ballad of a Runaway Horse.

Joanna Newsom and her horse are “as thick as thieves”, sharing their alfalfa and rolls in the hallucinatory You And Me Bess. But when she finds herself sentenced to hang for stealing a horse, is the “glad neighing” of Bess kind or callous?

Parents of young girls will know that ponies are as unavoidable as princesses and Barbies; riding lessons generally end with the discovery of boys. The boys had better watch it, if Frida Hyvönen’s Pony is anything to go by: “The stable’s where you learn to be in charge and not take shit / Dressed for the occasion, leather boots and a stiff black whip.” But now, how she misses the horses of her childhood.

The Cowboy Junkies are neither cowboys nor junkies, but nevertheless have a fine horse song. A Horse In The Country is one woman’s escape from a life that’s failed to live up to expectations. She gets to see him every second Sunday. They’ll saddle up and ride away, one day.

Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! by Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans is almost certainly the best concept album about the life of a cavalry solider released in the last decade. The title track takes us on an exhilarating gallop through 2,000 years of military history. The wars change, but the horse soldier remains the same.

In Edwin Muir’s poem The Horses, after an apocalyptic war, the coming of strange horses offering their “long-lost archaic companionship” signals a new beginning. I’m reminded of it by Heavy Horses, Jethro Tull’s rousing eulogy for draught horses which almost gives eight-minute 1970s prog-folk epics a good name: “One day when the oil barons have all dripped dry… They’ll beg for your strength, your gentle power / Your noble grace and your bearing.”

Leonard Cohen – Ballad of the Absent Mare
Corb Lund – Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!
Cowboy Junkies – A Horse in the Country
Ray LaMontagne – All The Wild Horses

POST DATE: 01/24/2014