Having been a longtime fan of the band, Bridgers has covered The Killers multiple times over the years. In 2019, she and Better Oblivion Community Center bandmate Conor Oberst shared a rendition of “Human”, while Bridgers and boygenius covered “Read My Mind” at a host of live shows in 2018.
Lyrically, “Runaway Horses” tells the story of an ambitious “small town girl” who loves Radiohead and is “crazy about ‘The Bends’”, and soon “puts her dreams on ice” for love, “trading school for weddings and rent”. Having met Brandon Flowers during an interview, she later jumped at the chance to collaborate on the song and add the frontman’s desired “female element” to the vocals.
“I still remember the first time I heard [her 2017 single] “Funeral” on some college public radio station and just thinking, ‘This must be Phoebe Bridgers’,” Flowers told NME for this week’s Big Read cover story. “I knew it just from the way that people had written about her. There was so much beauty. It seemed so natural.”
Flowers continued: “She has a little bit of Wild West in her. She has rodeo people in her bloodline. She brought a sadness to the song that’s integral to it, but also inherent in her. It was the perfect combination.”
Recalling their time in the studio together, drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr told us: “We were working with producer Tony Berg at studio B at Sound City. One of her records was made there and so her presence was already there.
He went on: “It was really in the thick of it where LA was really scary during COVID so she didn’t stay long. Everybody was wearing masks. It was really quick, but she did it expertly in two takes and got out of there. I think she’s perfect for it.”
This comes as Bridgers is also set to appear on Taylor Swift’s upcoming re-recorded version of “Red”, as well as lending a cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” to the 30th anniversary reissue of “The Black Album.”