One Song/Three Versions – Wild Horses

Before I get into the One Song thing, I feel the need to post something here completely unrelated. But it’s so cool I feel the need to shoehorn it into a post. It’s “Layla” as if written and performed by Dire Straits. It’s actually done by some awesome dude named Laszlo Buring who played “drums, electric guitar, vocals, a subtle 12-string acoustic, an organ, and bass.” Incroyable!

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program. “One Song/Three Versions” whole point is to demonstrate how others artists can (sometimes radically) reinvent a song or to hear a guy sing a song associated with a female or vice-versa. I am a long-time, rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth Stones fan, and “Wild Horses” is one of their most popular tunes. Some backstory:

This song was recorded for 1971’s Sticky Fingers at Muscle Shoals and Olympic London studios Mick Jagger: “I remember we sat around originally doing this with Gram Parsons, and I think his version came out slightly before ours. Everyone always says this was written about Marianne (Faithfull) but I don’t think it was; that was all well over by then. But I was definitely very inside this piece emotionally.”

Keith Richards adds, “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.” (I always had the feeling that wherever Keef was was where he wanted to be. – ME).

The tune features session player Jim Dickinson on tack piano,* Richards on electric guitar and 12-string acoustic guitar, and Mick Taylor on acoustic guitar.**

Spotify link

I am not 100% sure when exactly the Stones’ and the late Leon Russell’s paths crossed. But at some point in time, he toured with them. And Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger all performed on his eponymous solo album. Somewhere in there they recorded a version of “Wild Horses” with Leon on organ.

But the one I dig is the bonus track from his 1974 album, Stop All That Jazz. This album, like his debut, also has the proverbial cast of thousands including Willie Nelson, J.J. Cale, Carl Radle, Pete Drake and the Gap Band. Leon finds the country in this:

Spotify link

I’ve always loved the Indigo Girls. We saw them a few years back at an outdoor venue. I remember not being as blown away as I wanted to be. Not that they were bad but maybe I wasn’t just as familiar with their tunes as I thought. And I remember they kept changing guitars on every tune like they were Blue Oyster Cult.

Staring Down the Brilliant Dream is a live album they released a few years back. Some of the tunes feature guest vocalists. “Closer to Fine” for example features Canadian actress Jill Hennessy of Law and Order fame. Did you know she’s a musician? And she has an identical twin? Did you also know that in a perfect world she and I would be married? But I digress.

Here are the “girls” doing their version of “Caballos salvajes.”

Spotify link

*According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, tack piano is an altered version of an ordinary piano, in which objects such as thumbtacks or nails are placed on the felt-padded hammers of the instrument at the point where the hammers hit the strings, giving the instrument a tinny, more percussive sound. It is used to evoke the feeling of a honky-tonk piano,

**If watching a band react to a playback of their own tune floats your boat, here are the Stones doing just that from Gimme Shelter. 

22 thoughts on “One Song/Three Versions – Wild Horses

        1. According to the blurb on the YouTube site, Keith’s companion is pianist Jim Dickinson which makes sense. I don’t know how often he played with them as usually it was Nicky Hopkins or Ian Stewart till Chuck Leavell took over.

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  1. I was assuming you were going to include the Flying Burrito Brothers version, which precedes The Stones’ – but it’s just not as good as the Stones.

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  2. First of all that dude doing Layla Dire Straits style, Lazlo Buring, is really cool!

    As for “Wild Horses,” it’s also one of my favorite Stones tunes. Seeing Jagger and co in the video, I can’t quite tell whether they are bored, on drugs, or simply concentrate very hard as they are listening. I suspect it’s a combination of all.

    Leon Russell is my preferred version. I kind of like how he turned it into a country tune, making it more of a remake.

    Indigo Girls stay close to the original. Nothing wrong with a cover. Based on other tunes I’ve heard, I expected a bit more from their harmony vocals.

    Larkin Poe would probably do a nice job with “Wild Horses”. Since they play covers all the time, I bet they already did!

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    1. Is that Straits versiin not fucking great? Funny, too.

      I think Keith, at least, is pretty high. But my sense is they are really listening pretty intently. At the end of the day they’re a band who want to put out a good tune. I think they knew they put out a classic. Leon’s version is the one that got me going. Nice reinvention, which is what these posts are all about.

      As to Indigo Girls, yeah, they didn’t do anything unusual but I wanted to hear some female voices. Larkin Poe would be interesting. I only know them from your posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the Burrito cover. Just heard the Leon version a while ago. All versions have the “country” vibe to me. I find myself singing this one often. Doc and CB version in the works?

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        1. Crazy, huh? Yeah there are. That’s the problem with playing an instrument in a band. It’s as likely as not that there are two guys there that can play every instrument, have perfect pitch, etc. You never feel quite adequate .

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  4. I haven’t ever heard the Leon or Indigo Girls versions before, so some good stuff for my ears there. To be honest, I think the only version that I’m aware of (other than the Stones) is the Burritos. Such a great song, though. Maybe my favourite Rolling Stones song, actually.

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    1. And it turns out that Leon Russell played piano on the Burrito’s version. Let us also not forget that a woman named Susan Boyle did an almost operatic version of this on ‘America’s Got Talent’ several years back. It’s the all-purpose song!

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  5. Couple / trio of thoughts on this, good sir:
    1. That Layla by Dire Straits video has absolutely made my day, very clever and very well done.
    2. I’ve got a feeling it was written about Keith not wanting to be away from his son?
    3. The other part that made my day is the clip from Gimme Shelter, good to see those Men of Kent enjoying themselves in an Alabama studio. The chap on the couch with Keith in the video is the legendary tack pianist, session player and producer Jim Dickinson, I recently read an article – an extract from his biog which seems impossible to pin down at a good price – about how the session materialised, how he ended up playing on it, appearing in the vid (drugs were involved in getting to hang with Keith) and Mick’s comments to him which twice made Charlie tell his front man “he (Jim) ought to punch you in the face for that”. I’ll have to see if I can dig it out and share it

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    1. Yeah, that Straits thing blew my socks off when I heard it too. And I laughed out loud when he started singing. Perfect.

      Your guess is as good as mine on the genesis of the song. I’ve read Keef’s autobio but I’ll be damned i I can recall if he mentioned it.

      Hey. Are those guys really Men of Kent? Never gave it much thought. As to Dickinson, yeah somebody asked me in a comment and I noticed that in the YouTube comment then corroborated it. I confess his name was new to me. Yeah, if you find that piece, please share. For reasons I cannot fully – or even partially – explain, I am on an endless quest to know everything about the Stones.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I knew about the train station thing and Mick carrying blues records under his arm. But I didn’t realize that was in Kent. You Men of Kent must be bursting with pride! What do those Kentish wankers have? As to that piece of art, it’s still there? If that was in any good-size US city it would have long since been covered with graffiti or nicked and sold for scrap metal. Nothing against Mick of course, old chap.

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      1. Impossible to find but through the joys of modern technology I’ve pinged some quality photos of it over to you that’ll hopefully allow you to read it

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    1. No, that’s really nice. I like how she relates to the tune and then the music echoes it at times. I need to listen to more stuff like that. Thanks.

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