Chris Stapleton - White Horse Single Cover
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‘White Horse’ by Chris Stapleton - Lyrics & Meaning

August 3, 2023 9:06 pm GMT
Last Edited February 5, 2024 3:35 pm GMT

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Chris Stapleton - ‘White Horse'

Label: Mercury Nashville

Release Date: July 21st 2023

Album: Higher

Producers: Dan Wilson & Chris Stapleton

Songwriters: Chris Stapleton, Dave Cobb & Morgane Stapleton

Chart Performance:

  • No. 4 on Mediabase
  • No. 5 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs
  • No. 6 on Billboard's Country Airplay
  • No. 18 on Billboard Hot 100

Awards:

  • 2024 Grammy for Best Country Song
  • 2024 Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance

The Background:

Since bursting onto the scene as a country music artist with his debut album, Traveller, Chris Stapleton has consistently been outdoing himself with each new release.

Starting with his award-winning debut, through his pair of Platinum-certified From A Room records and finishing with his 2020 Grammy-winning album, Starting Over, Stapleton has continued to up the ante while also stretching himself creatively, cementing himself as one of the most versatile and sonically unique artists in modern day country music.

With the announcement of his next record, Higher, and its accompanying lead single, 'White Horse', it's obvious that Stapleton is planning to continue that tradition.

Though it shares a title with our country-turned-pop Queen Taylor Swift's 2008 hit, Stapleton's track is a bluesy rock warning of unrequited love that we just can't get enough of, and clearly country music fans can't either.

Another crown jewel in Stapleton's collection, 'White Horse' debuted at No. 7 on the Hot Country Songs chart, No. 21 on Country Airplay, No. 31 on the all-genre Hot 100 and No. 31 on Mediabase. Upon its release, the song also nabbed 135 adds at country radio, marking the biggest add day of 2023 in the format and the biggest add day in Stapleton's career thus far.

After three years without much, if any, new music from Holler's favorite bearded wonder, it's no surprise that 'White Horse' arrived with such a bang. If it's any indication of what's to come with Higher, we're in for quite a treat.

The Sound:

'White Horse,' which is an explosive love song at its core, takes a familiar page out of Stapleton's artistic book, blending his gritty vocals and Kentucky drawl with a bluesy country sound. Sonically akin to 2020's 'Arkansas', Stapleton's signature electric guitar riffs lay a southern rock essence across the fiery tune.

Stapleton's honey-drenched snarl, as well as all of the instrumentation, was recorded at Nashville's RCA Studio A, with the decorated entertainer taking his spot behind the soundboard alongside his wife, Morgane, and his longtime producer, Dave Cobb.

Opening with some chilling cymbals, an acoustic guitar quickly picks its way through the track, as a bass and electric guitar veer into its rear view mirror, accentuating a handful of the notes in it's build. Stapleton's vocals gracefully swoop in around the 45-second mark, as everything else subtly falls away.

Backed by a steady electric guitar throughout the verse, his vocals are the focal point, as the band grow around him. Before you know it, we're off to the races for the chorus, which we'll have the pleasure of hearing another three times before the tune is over.

Clocking in at four and a half minutes, 'White Horse' dedicates some significant time to its jolting guitar solos and riffs. It gives off an ominous feeling, setting the stage for the dramatic single's lyrics to beautifully come through.

Only tallying a lean 113 words (if you only count the chorus once), Stapleton co-wrote the song with frequent collaborator, Semisonic's Dan Wilson, over a decade ago in 2013... but more on that shortly.

The Meaning:

"This love is getting kind of dangerous
Feels like it's a loaded gun
My mind is turning like a cloud of dust
My heart always wants to run"

We open on our male protagonist explaining to his love interest that he feels some sort of danger lurking about that he likens to a loaded gun. As the first verse continues, we realize that the threat in question is their relationship.

In four quick lines, we start to understand that our speaker might have some commitment issues, and it's important to note that the "danger" he fears is never actually addressed in the song.

"Oh-oh-oh-oh
If you want a cowboy on a white horse
Riding off into the sunset
If that's the kind of love you wanna wait for
Hold on tight girl, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet

White Horse"

As we sail into the chorus, Stapleton begins to paint a picture thanks to a healthy dose of cowboy imagery. Our speaker is very direct and up front about the fact that if his love interest is looking to ride off into the sunset with a cowboy and his trusty steed, he's not the one for her... at least not right now. If she's willing to wait for him, we're left with the impression that one day he'll be able to be that guy.

We're never explicitly told what she wanted from him, though we can assume she's in search of more commitment or security. Similarly, we never find out what needs to happen for our could-be-cowboy to get his act together.

"Someday
Maybe you could have your way
Right now's just not the time
Some things a man's just got to do
I wish you could change my mind"

The second verse finds our speaker spilling out more of the same lines, saying that maybe one day he could be right now he's not. Feeling like a cliché "it's not you, it's me" moment, he lobs an empty line, signaling that he perhaps has some undisclosed unfinished business to tend to but conveniently never provides any more details or timestamps.

Though the last line tries to sell that he wishes things could be different, we're left thinking that, at this point, it doesn't seem like he really cares about her or the relationship anyway... some cowboy he is.

"Oh-oh-oh-oh
If you want a cowboy on a white horse
Riding off into the sunset
If that's kind of love you wanna wait for
Hold on tight girl, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet"

What has Chris Stapleton said about ‘White Horse’?

Stapleton notoriously hasn't done a whole lot of interviews throughout his career and, so far, that hasn't changed with the announcement of his fifth studio album, Higher, which is due out in November.

However, iHeartCountry did nab a few minutes with the crafty singer-songwriter where he shared how 'White Horse' originally came together. As we mentioned before, the song was actually born over a decade ago in 2013.

"There was a movie called The Lone Ranger that was coming out, and I walked in the room to write with Dan [Wilson] at his house. He said, 'Hey they're looking for songs for this Lone Ranger movie.' I said, 'Cool. Let's write something. What do you know about it?' He goes, 'Well, we don't really know anything.' I was like, 'Well, let's just make a song that might sound like that," Stapleton recalled. "We got to talking about how it would be cool to have a rock-driven, western-themed song... We kind of built it around a guitar riff, really".

Later on, Stapleton also unveiled that his trusty lifelong collaborator, his wife Morgane, was not an instant fan of the tune, saying: "The first person that I play any song for is always my wife and 'White Horse' was no exception. Again this was many years ago, but I think at the time she kind of heard it as a song that was not the most romantic thing in the world".

Stapleton added with a smile. "Over time I kept bringing it up and finally we decided we'd give it a shot in the studio. Once we got the track on it and everything in place, it really just felt so right that I think she might have changed her mind on it a little bit!"

We're pretty glad she gave the song a shot, considering it's going to be at the top of our playlists until the rest of the project arrives on November 10.

For the full lyrics to Chris Stapleton's ‘White Horse,’ see below:

This love is getting kind of dangerous
Feels like it's a loaded gun
My mind is turning like a cloud of dust
My heart always wants to run

Oh-oh-oh-oh
If you want a cowboy on a white horse
Riding off into the sunset
If that's the kind of love you wanna wait for
Hold on tight girl, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet

White Horse

Someday
Maybe you could have your way
Right now's just not the time
Some things a man's just got to do
I wish you could change my mind

Oh-oh-oh-oh
If you want a cowboy on a white horse
Riding off into the sunset
If that's kind of love you wanna wait for
Hold on tight girl, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet

White Horse

If you want a cowboy on a white horse
Riding off into the sunset
If that's the kind of love you wanna wait for
Hold on tight, I ain't there yet

If you want a cow boy on a white horse
Riding off into the sunset
If that's the kind of love you wanna wait for
Hold on tight, girl I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet
No, I ain't there yet

White Horse

For more on Chris Stapleton, see below:

Written by Lydia Farthing
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