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

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A Horse With No Name song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThe 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
  • +3
    General CommentI 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
  • +3
    General CommentI'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
  • +2
    General CommentI 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 CommentI'll refrain from my feelings about people discarding all the imagery in this song just to try and sound like experts when they say "DOOD ITS HEROIN HORSE MEANS HEROIN! YAY! IM SO SMART AND COOL LOLZ!"

    Basically, if the only word you can come up with for this song is heroin, how do you explain the last lyrics "Under the cities lies a heart made of ground, but the humans will give no love"?

    There are many different possible meanings for this song, the way I see it, but I believe it's about individuality: The narrator discovers his individuality while he's alone (the desert). Soon, however, he realizes the toll society (the rain) has taken on him, and its impact. Eventually, he has to return to society, and mask his true identity, although on the inside, he is still the same person (The ocean is a desert with its life underground.)

    As for the last line, I believe it's a statement about how people only look skin-deep, and don't treasure what makes a person individual.
    Werewolvesofthunderon January 16, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love how people assume that a song is about a drug based on the time period and possibly the musicians.
    Oh, ok. So one of America's most well-known songs is about heroin? Lobotomize yourself.

    There's been some awesome interpretations here, though.

    I always thought of it as writing about an escape from civilization and mankind. The verses, especially the last, suggest that a desert contains just as much diversity and wonder as mankind has created. Whether or not the writers were on substances is besides the point. I dont think the drug heroine itself is a desert and oceans and flies and stuff that anyone would automatically pluck out and say "oh yeah that reminds me of heroin!"
    laylaman713on March 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI 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 CommentThere are people who think about a song for 60 seconds, and the first thing that comes to their mind, they are forever after sure the song is about. And then it's always drugs, death, or some wildly implausible scenario.

    The guy's in the desert to think. He's spending quite some time out there. He's thinking. He does not die. The horse is not a metaphor. End of story. Even if the songwriter wasn't on record saying this, it's obvious from the lyrics themselves.
    rikdadon September 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love how these posters are bent on this song being about Heroin.
    silentthrilleron July 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe song was origionally named the "desert song".... so while the song possibly had something to do with heroin I'm not sure it's about it because the horse was not supposed to be the main point of the song. I believe the song is more about getting away from people, judgements and the pain of society. I love the line the ocean is a desert with the perfect disquise above because I feel it really shows someone trying to be part of society but themself at the same time. The writer might have smoked heroin while writing it or put it in to show that society doesn't always approve but its not going to stop him from doing and being what he wants.
    horsew/nonameon January 03, 2009   Link

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