Rocks Off's regular readers presumably know by now that we love few things more than offbeat anniversaries, and recently we came across one of the oddest yet. Thirty-two years ago Monday, on Feb. 28, 1979, the "actor" who played the original Mr. Ed in the 1960s TV show passed away. Yes, we're a day late, but then again the rodeo starts today and continues for the next three weeks, so we figure we've got a little leeway.
We also live in Texas, a state where most people who don't live here think we still ride horses to work. (Sorry to disappoint, y'all.) Here, then, are five of our favorite songs about our equine companions.
5. America, "A Horse With No Name": Yes, the desert folk-rock trio's 1972 hit is generally regarded as one of the most blatant Neil Young ripoffs ever recorded, which is true. But the fact that the song went to No. 1 and remains almost inescapable 40 years later is itself testament to the impact Shakey's acoustic side has had. Right, Band of Horses?
4. Ginuwine, "Pony": This 1996 bit of R&B raunch did things with a Vocoder that would be illegal in most animal-porn films. Thanks, Timbaland!
3. Lyle Lovett, "If I Had a Boat": Lyle Lovett is almost as accomplished a horse breeder as he is a songwriter, so it's no surprise a pony figures prominently in this chimy tune from 1988's Pontiac, even if Rocks Off could never figure out why he wants to take a horse out on his boat in the first place. Best line: "But Tonto he was smarter, and one day said kemo sabe/ Kiss my ass I bought a boat, I'm going out to sea"
2. PJ Harvey, "Horses In My Dreams": Rocks Off believes we may have already discussed our admiration for Ms. Harvey once today. This throaty acoustic ballad helps pull Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea to safety after the sheet-ripping strife of "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" and "Is This Love?"
1. Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson & John Wayne (sort of), "My Rifle, Pony & Me": As the Duke wisely refrains from harmonizing, Martin and Nelson warble this ode to their favorite trail-riding partners while waiting out some bad guys in Howard Hawks' classic 1959 Western Rio Bravo. Stick around for "Cindy Cindy" too. Made a memorable cameo in a 2002 episode of The Sopranos.
Crazy Horse (kick-ass country/garage-rock band)
Patti Smith, Horses (album)
Emerald City Residents, "A Horse of a Different Color" (The Wizard of Oz)
The Promise Ring, The Horse Latitudes (album)
"Two Little Boys" (Written in 1902, song Spud sings at Tommy's funeral in Trainspotting)
The Palomino (legendary L.A. honky-tonk)
Oak Ridge Boys, "Elvira" (for the refrain "Hi-yo Silver, a-way")
The Bad Livers, Horses in the Mines (album)
Dark Horse Records (label started by ex-Beatle George Harrison)
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An Horse (Australian indie duo playing SXSW and Fitz March 20)
"Wildfire" (Michael Martin Murphey make-out song; added by popular demand)