Top 10 Crazy Horse Songs

Crazy Horse Songs

Photo: Reprise Records [Public domain]

Our Top 10 Crazy Horse Songs takes a look at a band more known for their association with Neil Young than their own solo albums and material. However, the band has released six albums without him. They are a talented and popular band in their own right. This article will focus on their lesser-known work without Neil Young. They were founded by vocalist and guitar player Danny Whitten in 1963 as Danny & The Memories, they became a psychedelic influenced folk rock band called the Rockets. In 1969 they teamed up with Neil Young and The Rockets became known as Crazy Horse. The band was named after a famous historical Native American chieftain.

The only consistent members of Crazy Horse are bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina. Talbot and Molina are the only band members to appear on every release. Crazy Horse had a rotating lineup that changed from album to album which added more variety to their sound. Other important members over the years have included guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, vocalist Rick Curtis, vocalist and organ player Michael Curtis, guitarist Nils Lofgren and multi instrumentalist and producer Jack Nietzsche as well as at least seven other musicians. Their mix of folk rock, country rock, R&B and hard rock has been an influence on multiple artists such as Nazareth, Dinosaur Jr., Mudhoney and Nirvana. Crazy Horse still continues to tour and record both with and without Neil Young.

10. Love is Gone

Recorded for their second album At Crooked Lake and released in 1972. “Love is Gone” was written by Rick and Michael Curtis. Rick Curtis and his brother Michael joined the band to replace former singer and guitarist Danny Whitten who died of an overdose of alcohol and valium after recording their first album. “Love is Gone” is a country rock song based around an acoustic guitar melody with acoustic and steel guitar solos.

9. She’s Hot 

Released on 1978’s Crazy MoonShe’s hot features Billy Talbot on bass and vocals, Frank “Poncho” Sampedro on guitar and vocals, Ralph Molina on drums and vocals and Neil Young making a guest appearance on the guitar. “She’s Hot” makes use of feedback and a heavy electric rhythm guitar to create a dissonant sound. Neil Young’s distinctive electric guitar soloing is a prominent part of the track. It has a grungy, noisy back to basics garage rock feel to it with no piano, organ or acoustic guitar whatsoever.

8. Beggar’s Day

 Written by Nils Lofgren for their first album, Crazy Horse in 1971. “Beggar’s Day” is based around a blues hard rock guitar riff. “Beggar’s Day” incorporates Crazy Horse’s trademark full band harmonies into a hard rock format. “Beggar’s Day” is rooted in R&B but the use of effects pedals displays Crazy Horse’s innovative techniques and willingness to experiment with their sound. A cover version of “Beggar’s Day” by Scottish hard rockers Nazareth became a hit.

7. Thunder and Lightning

Recorded in 1978 for the album Crazy Moon. “Thunder and Lightning” was composed by billy Talbot and Frank “Poncho” Sampedro. “Thunder and Lightning” is notable for having Neil Young play electric guitar on the track. The vocals were recorded by the entire band. “Thunder and Lightning” is much more musically complex than Crazy Horse’s earlier straight hard rock or country rock material. “Thunder and Lightning” features synthesizers, brass instruments, an organ, saxophone and violin.

6. Gone Dead Train

Written by Russ Titelman and Jack Nietzche “Gone Dead Train” is the first track from their first album, Crazy HorseIt has a heavy blues rock style to it and the full group harmonies that Crazy Horse is known for. The piano is very prominent in “Gone Dead Train.” Lead vocals on the track were performed by Danny Whitten.

5. I’ll Get By 

From 1971’s Crazy HorseI get by was written and sung by Danny Whitten. It has very tight vocal harmonies similar to those of The Byrds or Crosby Stills and Nash. A bluesy riff kicks off “I’ll Get By” but overall the instrumentation relies more on piano and acoustic guitar than their usual hard rock electric sound.

4. Dirty, Dirty

 A Danny Whitten composition from their first album, Crazy Horse It has a slow, mellow beat and piano is prominent. “Dirty, Dirty” has a clear rhythm and blues influence which can be heard in the frequent slide guitar solos. These were performed by Ry Cooder, a great musician in his own right who also worked with The Rolling Stones. Whitten sings the lead with backing vocals from the rest of the band. The lyrics of “Dirty, Dirty” are sexually suggestive.

3. Rock and Roll Band 

From their third release, 1972’s At Crooked Lake. Rock and Roll Band has their characteristic heavy rock rhythm guitar playing and includes tight folk rock harmonies reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield, The Hollies and Crosby Stills & Nash. The lead guitar ranges from bluesy to psychedelic. “Rock and Roll Band” was written by Sydney Jordon. The lead vocalist is Rick Curtis who replaced the deceased Danny Whitten on vocals.

2. Crow Jane Lady

This song appears on their first album, 1971’s Crazy Horse“Crow Jane Lady” has an upbeat tempo and blues arrangement for the first half of the song. The sound is guitar heavy with a clear blues influence. The second half of “Crow Jane Lady” is pure country rock, with a mellow beat and prominent acoustic and steel guitars. “Crow Jane Lady” is a perfect example of how Crazy Horse blended their blues influenced hard rock sound with their country rock leanings. “Crow Jane Lady”was written and produced by Jack Nietzche. Danny Whitten was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist on “Crow Jane Lady.”

1. I Don’t Want to Talk About It

This melancholy country rock ballad was written and sung by Crazy Horse’s rhythm guitar player and vocalist Danny Whitten. “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” was released in 1971. It appeared on their first album, the eponymous Crazy Horse. I Don’t Want To Talk About It” is undoubtedly Crazy Horse’s most famous and popular song outside of their work with Neil Young. It was produced by Jack Nietzche.

Thanks to their association with Neil Young they were signed to the major label Reprise Records. In 1977 “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” was covered by Rod Stewart. Stewart’s version of “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” went to the top of the UK charts and exposed Crazy Horse to a wider audience. It has been covered by multiple artists including Arthur Conley, Everything But The Girl, Indigo Girls and Llama Farmers among others.

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