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The Year of the Horse

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Gung hay fat choy!  Here is your playlist to celebrate the Lunar New Year in fine equine fashion.

1. Cliff Nobles & Co., “The Horse” (1968). A huge instrumental hit on the AM radio of my youth. In this rare video of Nobles and his band performing the song, you can see that Nobles’ horseback-riding and lasso-twirling dance moves clearly inspired PSY’s “Gangnam Style”.

2. Patti Smith Group, “Horses” (1975). “The boy looked at Johnny …” and we’re off to the races. Patti Smith’s epic song-poem from her debut album is captured below in an incredible 1976 video from “The Old Grey Whistle Test”.

3. Lee Dorsey, “Ride Your Pony” (1965). I had the pleasure of seeing the great New Orleans R&B singer of “Workin’ in a Coal Mine” fame sing “Ride Your Pony” live (complete with cap pistols firing) when he opened for the Clash on their 16 Tons Tour in 1980. Here’s the electrifying Dorsey performing “Ride Your Pony” before a German audience in 1967 (from the “Sam and Dave Show” DVD). I have to say, his jockey moves have it over Cliff Nobles’ by a mile.

4. U2, “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” (1991).  Achtung Baby still sounds big and sexy and Bowie-esque after all these years. Plus, this video contains nostalgic footage of Bono with hair and without shades.

5. Gram Parsons with the Flying Burrito Brothers, “Wild Horses” (1970). Everybody’s heard the Stones’ original, but Parsons’ delicate, yearning version from Burrito Deluxe is the one that cuts deep.

6. America, “A Horse with No Name” (1972). Sorry. I had to include it. How could I not? Let’s pretend we’re back in high school. You guys, it’s about an acid trip!  And it’s really Neil Young!

7. Echo and the Bunnymen, “Bring on the Dancing Horses” (1985). Your Pretty in Pink moment.

8. Tower of Power, “Don’t Change Horses (in the Middle of a Stream)” (1974).  Oakland funk, from their most fertile era. Giddy-up!

9. The Little Willies, “Tennessee Stud” (2006). This classic song, written by Jimmie Driftwood, was recorded by Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Doc Watson and many more. But I (unapologetically) love the bounce of this version by Norah Jones and the Little Willies.

10. Theme song from Mr. Ed. Of course, of course.

©Joyce Millman, The Mix Tape, 2014

About Joyce Millman

I've been a professional journalist for, let's just say, a long time. I started my career in the early '80s as a pop music and TV critic for the Boston Phoenix, relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in '87, and never left. I was the TV critic for the San Francisco Examiner, then a founding staffer of Salon.com and its first TV columnist. My freelance TV reviews and pop cultural criticism have been published in the New York Times, among other places. Check my website and my blog The Mix Tape for more. I like hockey. I'm a terrible guitar player. But enough about me...

3 responses

  1. Joyce, you are the BEST! (Note my new avatar.)

    http://tinyurl.com/mqhsjee

  2. Great list. To continue a theme: along with McArthur Park, my high school band also played an arrangement of The Horse. We were apparently hipper than I thought.

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