Tracknotes: “Horses” by Palace

horsesBefore he was Bonnie “Prince” Billy, he was Will Oldham, and before that he was Palace Music, and before that he was Palace Brothers, and before that he was Palace, and before that he was Palace Songs, and really, all of the Palace monikers got shuffled about without making any apparent sense.  Originally released in 1994 as a 7″ single on Drag City.

[Turns out “Horses” was written by Sally Timms & Jon Langford of The Mekons, first released on Sally’s LP Somebody’s Rockin My Dreamboat in 1988. Thanks to reader Tom H. for pointing this out. Mea culpa.]

Old (classic) version:

  • “I’d be riding horses if they let me…”, “Everybody needs an angel/But here’s that devil by my side…” Fantastic lyrics here. It’s a pretty simple little strummer, but the lo-fi recording makes all the difference.
  • This is basically Will Oldham + Slint. The four Spiderland players form his backing band here, and that’s David Pajo shredding the frets late in the song. Interestingly, it appears that this track pre-dates most of the other Palace material, and even Spiderland. The A-side label for the 7” single lists a 1988 copyright for Low Noise Music. Anyone know anything about the producer, Steve Good?
  • Not too sure how I feel about the updated “Nashville session” recording. The original is such a classic, was it really necessary? I’m a sucker for the mandolin and all, but some things should just be left alone.
  • Probably one of the all time great tracks in at least 2 genres: indie & alt-country. I have to say I’m surprised this one doesn’t see more covers.

New (decent) version: