Wild Horses

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: December 1969 & February 1970
Recording locations: Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Florence, Alabama, USA & Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
Producer: Jimmy Miller        Chief engineers: Jimmy Johnson, Glyn Johns & Andy Johns
Performed onstage: 1971, 1975-76, 1994-95, 1997, 2002-03, 2005-06, 2012-16, 2018, 2021-22


Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Bill Wyman
12-string acoustic guitar: Keith Richards
Acoustic guitar (Nashville tuning): Mick Taylor
Electric guitar: Keith Richards
Lead vocal: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Tack piano: Jim Dickinson
Percussion: Mick Jagger

Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady, you know who I am
You know I can't let you slide through my hands

Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses couldn't drag me away

I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
Now you decided to show me the same
No sweeping exits or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind

Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses couldn't drag me away

I know I dreamed you a sin and a lie
I have my freedom but I don't have much time
Faith has been broken, tears must be cried
Let's do some living after we die

Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses, we'll ride them someday

Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses, we'll ride them someday

If there is one classic way of Mick and I working together, this is it. I had the riff and the 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.
- Keith Richards, 1993

Wild Horses almost wrote itself. It was really a lot to do with, once again, fucking around with the tunings. I found these chords, especially doing it on a twelve-string to start with, which gave the song this character and sound. There's a certain forlorness that can come out of a twelve-string. I started off, I think, on a regular six-string open E, and it sounded very nice, but sometimes you just get these ideas. What if I open tuned a twelve-string? All it meant was translate what Mississippi Fred McDowell was doing - twelve-string slide - into five-string mode, which meant a ten-string guitar.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)

Wild Horses
, we wrote the chorus in the john of the Muscle Shoals recording studio 'cause it didn't finish off right.
- Keith Richards, 1971

It was one of those magical moments when things come together. It's like Satisfaction. You just dream it, and suddenly it's all in your hands. Once you've got the vision in your mind of wild horses, I mean, what's the next phrase you're going to use? It's got to be couldn't drag me away.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)

(I)t was (Keith's) melody. And he wrote the phrase wild horses, but I wrote the rest of it. I like the song. It's an example of a pop song. Taking this cliché wild horses, which is awful, really, but making it work without sounding like a cliché when you're doing it.
- Mick Jagger, 1995

On Wild Horses, it sounds like a 12-string that Mick Taylor's playing, but it's a Nashville-strung guitar. It gives you that really nice ring that a 12-string will give you, without that boom underneath.
- Keith Richards, 1977

I played one of Keith's Gibson acoustic guitars in what they call a Nashville tuning. The guitar is tuned exactly the same way as regular tuning, but you use all first and second strings and you tune them in octaves. It's kind of like playing a 12-string guitar without the other six strings. That's the best way to describe it. I think I played a 12-string too. Keith played the electric solo on Wild Horses.
- Mick Taylor, 1979

Wild Horses was all Jagger - pure Mick. Even Ian Stewart didn't play on it. Stu had an aversion to minor chords or too many chord changes.
- Mick Taylor, 2011

(D)uring Wild Horses Jim Dickinson showed up, from Memphis. What happened is that their touring piano player, who was also their road manager, Ian Stewart, he played on Brown Sugar some, but during Wild Horses Jim Dickenson was out behind where we put the guitar amps... (It) was our tack piano, an old upright piano; we put tacks on the hammers so it sounded like a honky tonk. Anyway, Jim was back there just tiddling on it, playing along with what they had settled on as the groove, and Keith walked by and said, Hey you need to play that!
- Jimmy Johnson, 2005

Yeah (it has to do with Marlon's birth),'cause I knew we were going to have to go to America and start work again, to get me off me ass, and not really wanting to go away. It was a very delicate moment, the kid's only two months old, and you're goin' away. Millions of people do it all the time but still ...
- Keith Richards, 1971

I wrote this song because I was doing good at home with my old lady, and I wrote it like a love song. I just had this, Wild horses couldn't drag me away, and I gave it to Mick, and Marianne (Faithfull) just ran off with this guy and he changed it all around but it's still beautiful.
- Keith Richards, December 4, 1969, in Muscle Shoals
Studios, Alabama (from Stanley Booth's
The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones)

I remember we sat around originally doing this with Gram Parsons, and I think his version came out slightly before ours. Everyone always says it 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. This is very personal, evocative, and sad. It all sounds rather doomy now, but it was quite a heavy time.
- Mick Jagger, 1993

The vulnerability! Well, that's what you've got to do with these kinds of tunes. You've got to emote it, otherwise it's meaningless. When I wrote those verses I was feeling vulnerable, so you take it up.
- Mick Jagger, 2015

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