The Osmonds: Crazy Horses
It was one of the strange moments in pop when the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the apartheid-era cheerleaders for racist Puritanism, banned those clean-living Osmonds from its airwaves because they assumed Crazy Horses was about drugs. The song is, in fact, the rockingest environmental anthem of its day – at least among those songs of that kind aimed at the pubescent crowd or younger.
The song is, of course, not about heroin, but about the air pollution caused by automobiles. Written by Alan, Merrill and Wayne (the three older brothers), the Osmonds at other times apparently suggested it might about smoking cigarettes, one of the hundreds of things their Mormonism bans. Why in that case the single cover (and the LP of the same title) would show exhaust fumes emanating from heaps of cars copiously corrupting the air in clouds of poison, heroically breathed in by Donny and his brothers for my benefit and yours, is as unclear as the air of any urban conurbation in rush hour traffic.
Crazy Horses certainly is not your typical Osmonds number. If one didn’t know better, one would imagine the gruff lead singer to sport a beard bigger even than that of the dude in Kansas; the keyboardist not being happy young Donny, but some bespectacled evil genius whose excess consumption of hallucinogenic substances has given him the illusion that his screaming synth riff will literally blow your mind, man (and if you are under the influence of hallucinogens while listening to Crazy Horses, our putative malevolent mastermind might well be right); and the guitarist being the newly-recruited glam rocker who by sheer force of glitter and make-up infuses the old band’s hard rock sound with a pop sensibility.
Instead, as we know, the performers are not drugged dropout hippie veterans who in 1972 still coming to terms with the cold ’70s, but a gang of clones created by a mad orthodontist and his flamboyant hairdresser brother.