When The Rolling Stones released Wild Horses in 1971 the final product was not the same as the original.
Always a band with an interesting backstory the song Wild Horses is no different. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger technically wrote Wild Horses together, but that is not the whole story. Sadness from one heartbreak transformed into the depression from a different lost love. The story of The Rolling Stones song “Wild Horses” is the product of Richards and Jagger alternating stories of pain.
In 1969 The Rolling Stones were one of the most popular bands on the planet, selling out arenas all over the world. In the peak of this success Keith Richards became the father of his first son. Knowing that he would soon have to leave to tour with The Rolling Stones really bothered Richards. American Songwriter describes how Wild Horses was originally “the composition of this plaintive ballad by Keith Richards, whose first child was born in August 1969, causing Keith regret about going out on the road and leaving the boy behind.”
Keith Richards goes on to say,
“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.”
Therefore, the original story for The Rolling Stones “Wild Horses” was about Keith Richards missing his son. Richards moves on from the opening lines to write the guitar melody, but then things changed a bit.
As American Songwriter explains, “So Richards wrote the music, using a 12-string acoustic guitar to really draw out the melancholy in those chords.”
“He then handed the song off to his songwriting partner Mick Jagger to complete the verses. That’s when the track took a turn away from Marlon, Richards’ son, and veered toward Marianne.”
Marianne Faithful was Mick Jagger’s fading flame during the time “Wild Horses” was written. The Rolling Stones vocalist denies writing the song about his former lover, but most think this is unlikely. Jagger discusses his story for Wild Horses in the liner notes to the 1993 Stones’ anthology Jump Back: The Best Of The Rolling Stones. “I remember we sat around 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.”
The story of The Rolling Stones song “Wild Horses” is a glimpse into years of what made the band legends. The Stones have been together for 50 years which shows complete professionalism. Regardless of the internal quarrel, the product was top-quality kick ass rock music. The Rolling Stones story of “Wild Horses” shows the band’s vulnerability which is a different look for the rock legends. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wrote one of the most beautiful rock love songs in history.