[Published in the Broad Street Review, 15 Jun 2013, under the title A horse with no name? Why not?]
For 40 years, since the band America came out with the song “A Horse With No Name” (see below), I knew one thing for sure. I was absolutely certain that in the desert you can’t remember your name.
Why? ’Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.
Can’t remember your name.
And it made a kind of sense. We usually remember our names, I think most of us anyway, and most of us aren’t usually in a desert, and… that horse had no name, but maybe that was just the guy talking, maybe he couldn’t remember that either, ’cause it was hot (“the heat was hot,” he says, that’s a quote, unlike some other heat, I guess, that isn’t so much) and… you know, it kind of fit together, the not knowing names thing.
But now I find—I looked it up on Wikipedia and YouTube and all sorts of places we didn’t have in 1972—that, no no no, in the desert you can remember your name.
You’re asking yourself why, and of course you are; I don’t blame you. I ask this myself. Why, in the desert, can you remember your name? And if you can, I mean, big whoop, why even mention it?
(We usually remember our names, right? So what’s the big whoop about the desert? It’s like, I’m walking around, knowing my name like usual, but now I’m, I don’t know, browsing in the Classical CD section at Barnes & Noble and whoa, I remember my name here too! I think I’ll write a song!)
Well. I’ll tell you why.
’Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain, that’s why.
Well there ain’t no one in the Classical CD section either, to give me pain or not to give me pain, so what’s the big whoop about the desert?
OK, that’s got nothing to do with it. But neither does heroin, which is what horse means, wink wink, because “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is about LSD and so is “White Rabbit,” but they mean absolutely nothing, which is what good drug songs ought to mean.
So to sum up: For all these years I was absolutely certain of this one thing, and here it’s the opposite. Aaannd for the same reason. And all I keep thinking is: that poor horse.
La la, lahh, la, la-la la, la la-la, lahh, la. La la, lahh, la, la-la la, la la-la, lahh, la.