Man O'War was one of the greatest race horses of all time, winning 20 of his 21 starts in 1919 and 1920. Will Harbut became Man O'War's groomer in 1930 after the horse retired from racing to become a stud.
The two were said to have had a very strong bond, and Harbut enthusiastically showed his steed to thousands of visitors annually at Lexington's Kentucky Horse Park. Many actually credit Harbut with helping to grow Man O'War from a Champion to a Legend with his many tales of the great animal he called "The Mostest Hoss That Ever Drew Breath."
Will Harbut died in the fall of 1947. Man O'War passed less than a month later... many say from a broken heart over the loss of his friend.
This song laments not only the loss of the noble champion Man O'War and his friend Will Harbut. It also mourns the passing of a way of life in Kentucky and chastises the "men who have sold out the Bluegrass for greed." The narrator seems sure that the ghost of Will Harbut will one day be waiting to pass harsh judgement on those responsible.
Wishing Chair is a folk duo from Kentucky made up of Miriam Davidson and Kiya Heartwood. The version of the song I'm sharing with you here is a live performance from Morehead State Public Radio's Americana Crossroads Live concert series (you can hear the original radio broadcast here). The studio version appears as the title track of an album Wishing Chair released in 2000. The "purchase" link points to that album.