It might particularly bold to claim that Dewey Bunnell is one of America’s greatest songwriters, but it’s worth remembering that, beyond his acumen as a songwriter, he’s also one of the founding members of the band America.
See what we did there? But it’s true: alongside Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek, Bunnell is one of America’s greatest songwriters! And to prove it, we’ve put together a list of 10 tracks from throughout America’s ‘70s tenure on that show just how much quality work features Bunnell’s name attached to it.
“A Horse with No Name” (America, 1971): The band’s first single would turn out to be the band’s most successful. It’s also the song that inspired mockery from Steve Martin during an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, who found great amusement in the lyric, “For there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.” Also, in case you haven’t noticed, it also sounds a whole lot like Neil Young.
“Sandman” (America, 1971): Perhaps best known by longtime fans as the B-side to “A Horse with No Name,” it’s actually the second song on the band’s first album. In fact, Bunnell pretty much dominated the entire first side of the America album, writing all but one song (“Here”).
“Ventura Highway” (Homecoming, 1972): In the liner notes of the America box set Highway, Bunnell described this track as having “the most lasting power of all my songs,” adding, “It's not just the words—the song and the track have a certain fresh, vibrant, optimistic quality that I can still respond to.”
“Cornwall Blank” (Homecoming, 1972): This track was inspired by the band’s success and Bunnell’s desire to find a little peace and quiet on a trip to Cornwall, England. "We were basically venturing away from our families for the very first time, and just piling into a car and driving to Cornwall was a huge undertaking for us,” he said in the Highway liner notes. “That's when I thought, Boy, it's nice to be out here and blank out—turn it all off. It was bitter cold, so it wasn't like the tropics, but it was the feeling of getting away."
“Green Monkey” (Hat Trick, 1973): Although released as a single, this track failed to garner much in the way of airplay. That said, it remains a favorite among fans thanks to some guest guitar work from Joe Walsh.
“Tin Man” (Holiday, 1974): Produced by George Martin, this song provided America with one of the biggest hits of their career. Not only did it climb to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it went on to top the adult contemporary chart.
“Hollywood” (Holiday, 1974): An album track, this song has a melancholy feel to it that makes it stand out as an album highlight.
“Seasons” (Hearts, 1975): While never released as a single or even a B-side, this track benefits tremendously from George Martin’s production and gift for classical instrumentation, making for a beautiful combination.
“Amber Cascades” (Hideaway, 1976): Described on the website SongMeanings.com as having “a peaceful yet up-tempo sound with harps, soft trombones, and breezy harmonies,” this track was a minor hit, topping out at No. 75.
“Down to the Water” (Harbor, 1977): As the last song on the last album America released in the '70s, there’s hardly a better way to wrap up this piece. Plus, it’s about as bouncy a song as Bunnell’s ever written, making for a decidedly upbeat conclusion.