The Horse

"The Horse" is an American instrumental song by Cliff Nobles and Company. It was released as the B-side of the single "Love is All Right" and is simply an instrumental version of that song. It peaked at #2 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 chart (in June 1968) and the US Billboard R&B chart.[1] It missed the top spot on the Hot 100 because of the success of Herb Alpert's "This Guy's in Love With You" from 29 June through 13 July 1968.[2]

"The Horse"
Single by Cliff Nobles and Company
A-side"Love is All Right"
LabelPhil-L.A. of Soul 313 (US) Columbia C4-2812 (Canada)
Songwriter(s)Jesse James
Producer(s)Jesse James
"The Horse" on YouTube

The song sold a million copies within three months of release, and attained the gold record award from the Recording Industry Association of America in August 1968.[3] Although Nobles is the title artist, he does not personally perform on the track. The song was simply "Love is All Right" without his vocal track. The horn section which is featured eventually became the group MFSB.[4] Mike Terry played the baritone saxophone on this recording.[5]

The track itself features a simple, unvarying rhythmic line played by different instruments, finished off each time around by a melodic, heralding horn section line.

According to Bobby Eli, a guitarist on the session, the instrumental track was the result of he, guitarist Norman Harris, bassist Ronnie Baker, and drummer Earl Young (later to become the first MFSB rhythm section and the core of the group The Trammps) jamming in the studio. The jam was then "tweaked" by arranger Bobby Martin and recording studio owner and engineer Frank Virtue. Neither Cliff Nobles nor Producer Jesse James were present for the session. According to John A. Jackson, the players only received a modest fee for their work, which "did not sit right with Bobby Martin." Martin stated that he '"tried to get some [additional] bread" for the actual creators of "The Horse," the band members, but James "wouldn't give me anything." Nevertheless, with the success of "The Horse" the session players were "suddenly in great demand" and they all swore never to work with James again. Instead, they began to work with Gamble and Huff.[citation needed]

At the time, the record was popular for radio stations carrying into their hourly news segments and the like. It was also well known for being the theme music to the music promotional video series ‘’The Now Explosion’’, which premiered almost a decade before MTV.

Four decades after its release, the song continues to be a staple of American marching bands and pep bands, and is often heard at American football and basketball games.

The song was covered by Dexys Midnight Runners and appeared as the B-side to their 1980 single "There, There My Dear".

The first four notes of the horn line were incorporated into the Taylor Swift song Shake It Off.


  1. ^ Chart Positions,
  2. ^ Biography,
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 244–245. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir, ed. (2003). All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide to R&B and Soul. Backbeat Books. p. 468. ISBN 0879307447. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  5. ^