On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
La, la

After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red
After three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed
And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead

You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
La, la

After nine days I let the horse run free
Cause the desert had turned to sea
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The ocean is a desert with it's life underground
And a perfect disguise above
Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love

You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
La, la



Lyrics submitted by Ice

"A Horse With No Name" as written by Dewey Bunnell

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind


A Horse With No Name song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment:The song is NOT about Heroin!! I mean, seriously!! Does the band Godsmack's name refer to a deity on heroin?!?!?!

    The America album was released in Britain to moderate response. Though "I Need You" was discussed as an initial single, Warner Bros. asked the band to come up with another song that would break them on the radio. So, five months after the album came out, they went into a small London studio and demoed four new tunes. Among them was an enigmatic Bunnell number with a catchy rhythm that was initially called "Desert Song." Much to the band's surprise, that was the song that Warners chose to release.

    The band went into Morgan Sound Studios (where Beckley had played bass on demo sessions a few years before) to record the song, with Samwell producing and Kim Haworth brought in on drums. At Samwell's suggestion, "Desert Song" was retitled "A Horse With No Name."

    A tune as famous as this one deserves a detailed explanation, though Bunnell suggests that its meaning has evolved over time: "I was messing around with some open tunings--I tuned the A string way down to an E, and I found this little chord, and I just moved my two fingers back and forth, and the entire song came from basically three chords. I wanted to capture the imagery of the desert, because I was sitting in this room in England, and it was rainy. The rain was starting to get to us, and I wanted to capture the desert and the heat and the dryness."

    The imagery came from Dewey's childhood: "I had spent a good deal of time poking around in the high desert with my brother when we lived at Vandenberg Air Force Base [in California]. And we'd drive through Arizona and New Mexico. I loved the cactus and the heat. I was trying to capture the sights and sounds of the desert, and there was an environmental message at the end. But it's grown to mean more for me. I see now that this anonymous horse was a vehicle to get me away from all the confusion and chaos of life to a peaceful, quiet place."

    Bunnell adds an aside about his choice of language in the song: "I have taken a lot of poetic license in my use of grammar, and I always cringe a little bit at my use of 'aint's,' like 'ain't no one for to give you no pain' in "Horse." I've never actually spoken that way, but I think it conveys a certain honesty when you're not picking and choosing your words, and you use that kind of colloquialism."
    SoundandFury1031on January 13, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:I actually hung out with Dewey, the lead singer of America, last year and we asked him what the song meant. He said he wrote the song in while he was in Europe, on tour I believe. He said it was so rainy and dark all the time and he was just sick of being there. The song is basically his fantisy of being out of rainy Europe where everyone knew who he was. He went to a sunny place where nobody knew him.
    td300con December 28, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:I've been in the desert for all my life, funny how ppl don't get this. The song has nothing to do with drugs. The desert can be a near mystical/impersonal place, especially if you are close to heat-stroke, lol. I think it's mostly about a person who died in the desert:

    After nine days I let the horse run free
    Cause the desert had turned to sea

    That'll happen after 9 daze, probably much sooner.
    RickB001on July 28, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Isn't the chorus actually:

    "You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the desert you can't remember your name
    'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no name"

    Cuz It was just on the radio, and that makes alot more sense, and its sounds right-er
    smallthoughtson April 30, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I saw this song as a tune about someone who tries to escape their life, but through his journies realizes everywhere he goes, his problems follow him, everywhere is the same.

    -On the first part of the journey
    I was looking at all the life
    There were plants and birds and rocks and things-

    Our hero starts out on a journey, and notices how much life there is. It's odd, to find such life in the desert.

    -I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the desert you can remember your name
    'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain-

    The rain is where he started from- the rain is all his problems, so he goes to the desert, where you wouldn't expect all this rain (problems) to follow. I interpret this as his time of solitude, of finding himself. He sort of shuts off from life and looks introspectively, because out in the desert, there's only him and the horse with no name. The horse could be many things, I haven't decided what it means to me. However, one thought is it's his own desire to flee- the 'horse' is carrying him off to the desert.

    -After two days in the desert sun
    My skin began to turn red -

    As he's looking inwardly, he's finding a lot of crap he doesn't want to deal with. The solitude is getting to him. He can't live alone with his thoughts.

    -After three days in the desert fun
    I was looking at a river bed
    And the story it told of a river that flowed
    Made me sad to think it was dead-

    I think this refers to some sort of a relationship- when he left, he broke this relationship, and now it's dead. It could also be some character trait of himself (good sense of humour, positive outlook, ect) that was taken away when he was in the rain.

    -After nine days I let the horse run free
    'Cause the desert had turned to sea-

    Finally, he can't take the solitude, so he goes back into the world again. But he doesn't go back to whereever he came from, he moves to somewhere else.

    -There were plants and birds and rocks and things
    there was sand and hills and rings
    The ocean is a desert with it's life underground
    And a perfect disguise above-

    So, he settles down into this new life, expecting it to be perfect. But he finds it isn't. Like where he came from, the water (problems) are still there. Also, there are the parts of the desert- he's still being introspective.

    -Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
    But the humans will give no love-

    People are shallow and messed up, no matter where he goes.

    However, I really like Tack's understanding of the song- very well put.
    _biggreenmonkey_on June 19, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:SoundAndFury had the most concise answer. But I still think it's about drugs, specifically peyote. I was just listening to it last night when the idea came to me. He's decribing all these little things he's noticing (as someone on mescalin does) as he begins to trip. Of course the chorus... being out of the rain, you can remember your name... because you begin to reflect on your inner-self. He describes the trip (journey) as being over a course of days. By the ninth day!?!? He let the horse run free... he finally let go of his last inhibitions. A nine day trip? Only on mescalin.
    reflect4everon December 21, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I really disagree with the song referring to drugs...the singer finds himself in a desert, and slowly descends into madnesss that was probably caused by dehydration, and then he most likely died 9 days later. A prime example of how isolating yourself can be deadly.
    myname_is_benon February 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:LOL.. Let's try to clear this up a bit.. Quoted from the boxset booklet:

    The America album was released in Britain to moderate response. Though "I Need You" was discussed as an initial single, Warner Bros. asked the band to come up with another song that would break them on the radio. So, five months after the album came out, they went into a small London studio and demoed four new tunes. Among them was an enigmatic Bunnell number with a catchy rhythm that was initially called "Desert Song." Much to the band's surprise, that was the song that Warners chose to release.

    The band went into Morgan Sound Studios (where Beckley had played bass on demo sessions a few years before) to record the song, with Samwell producing and Kim Haworth brought in on drums. At Samwell's suggestion, "Desert Song" was retitled "A Horse With No Name."

    A tune as famous as this one deserves a detailed explanation, though Bunnell suggests that its meaning has evolved over time: "I was messing around with some open tunings--I tuned the A string way down to an E, and I found this little chord, and I just moved my two fingers back and forth, and the entire song came from basically three chords. I wanted to capture the imagery of the desert, because I was sitting in this room in England, and it was rainy. The rain was starting to get to us, and I wanted to capture the desert and the heat and the dryness."

    The imagery came from Dewey's childhood: "I had spent a good deal of time poking around in the high desert with my brother when we lived at Vandenberg Air Force Base [in California]. And we'd drive through Arizona and New Mexico. I loved the cactus and the heat. I was trying to capture the sights and sounds of the desert, and there was an environmental message at the end. But it's grown to mean more for me. I see now that this anonymous horse was a vehicle to get me away from all the confusion and chaos of life to a peaceful, quiet place."

    Bunnell adds an aside about his choice of language in the song: "I have taken a lot of poetic license in my use of grammar, and I always cringe a little bit at my use of 'aint's,' like 'ain't no one for to give you no pain' in "Horse." I've never actually spoken that way, but I think it conveys a certain honesty when you're not picking and choosing your words, and you use that kind of colloquialism."

    "A Horse With No Name" broke more than the rules of English--it broke America as a major recording act in Britain, the U.S., and Europe. After reaching #3 in the U.K., it was released in the States, where it topped the Pop chart for three weeks in March/April 1972. It stirred some controversy--stations in Kansas City and elsewhere banned the song for supposed drug references ("horse" being a street name for heroin at the time).

    The song's resemblance to Neil Young's work stirred some grumbling as well. Coincidentally or not, it was "A Horse With No Name" that bumped Young's "Heart Of Gold" out of the #1 slot on the U.S. Pop chart. "I know that virtually everyone, on first hearing, assumed it was Neil," Bunnell says. "I never fully shied away from the fact that I was inspired by him. I think it's in the structure of the song as much as in the town of my voice. It did hurt a little, because we got some pretty bad backlash. I've always attributed it more to people protecting their own heroes more than attacking me."
    TCSwanon May 01, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:"Horse With No Name" was written by Dewey when he was eighteen. The song was a kind of abstract summation of everything he was missing about the States. He explained: "I really do like the desert a lot and 'Horse With No Name' was written while I was sitting in a room in England on a grey drizzly day -- those last few years we were there it seemed like the sun never came out!" There is a visionary feeling to the song also: "It was at first just the two-dimensional version brought into the desert, and then the last verse has something to do with an ecological thing. The actual horse didn't have much to do with it; it was representative of freedom or something, because it had no name and it just ran away at the end!"

    Source: Comprehensive History: America Revisited
    accessbackstage.com/america/…
    leonardo217on September 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Seriously, everyone knows this song is about H. Stop analyzing it so much! Does the song make any sense? Unless you're high it doesn't! Take it and then you might get it! hahahaha!
    Coopnbgon November 06, 2009   Link

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