What comes to mind when you think about running away? You probably imagine a teenager running away from home to take on the world. Or maybe you see images of a woman leaving an abusive relationship.
Running away is a large subject in music. Many songs utilize the idea, literally and figuratively, but they all come down to one central theme. Running away means leaving a part of your life in the past. It means taking on a new challenge in the future.
If you’re at this point in your life, then I suggest you check out our list of 13 of the best songs about running away.
1. “Born To Run” By Bruce Springsteen
The American dream is alive in this song Bruce Springsteen performed for the first time in 1974. “Born to Run” was borne, so to speak, out of one of his songwriting sessions when the words just came to his head.
Springsteen himself said that the song was about a young man wanting to make a life for himself. As you listen to the words, they conjure the image of a restless young man who longs to hit the road on his motorcycle.
The man tells his girlfriend that he wants to take her out into the world and leave their lives behind and never return. He believes that staying in their hometown would be more dangerous than taking on the future.
2. “She’s Leaving Home” By The Beatles
At some point in our lives, we leave home to make a life for ourselves. It isn’t any easier for our parents, but it’s not something that they should prevent. But that’s how the girl in The Beatles‘ “She’s Leaving Home” feels.
Despite her parents giving her “everything money could buy,” it’s obvious she’s not happy. Perhaps the hidden fact here is that she never felt loved. She feels alone, more so because her parents are always working to give her everything she needs and wants.
That’s why she felt “Something inside that was always denied.” This compels her to finally pack her bags and sneak out. She’s leaving home.
3. “Run” By George Strait
Country music is full of songs with the theme of running away. One of the most memorable is the 2001 song “Run” by George Strait.
Released on his album titled The Road Less Traveled, “Run” is a charming and humorous song about a man wanting his woman to come home to him badly. He says, “Don’t you walk to me/Baby, run,” which could only reflect how much he misses her.
He knows she’s someplace where she doesn’t belong because she’s not right next to him. And so he wants her to hurry and take all the available forms of transportation to get to him.
4. “I Think We’re Alone Now” By Tommy James And The Shondells
Ah, young love. A time in our lives when we just want to be alone with the person we love, but the adults will have none of it. That’s the sentiment you’ll find in Tommy James and the Shondells‘ song, “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
This song is about a couple of teenagers running away to have privacy and be alone together. But their parents tell them, “Children, behave.” And so the young lovers end up “running… tryin’ to get away into the night.”
That is a sentiment many of us can relate to. Teenage couples are constantly under the watchful eye of adults. This only cements their desire to have time alone at every chance they get.
5. “Run To The Hills” By Iron Maiden
Far from being a love song, Iron Maiden‘s “Run to the Hills” is full of historical references. It chronicles the colonization of the Americas and is told from the perspective of a Native and an American cavalryman.
In the first verse, the Native tells how the “white man… brought us pain and misery.” In the next verse, the white man recounts how they chase “the redskins back to their holes.”
The song details the native Arawaks who lived in the Bahamas. They were enslaved by the Spaniards and forced to work in gold mines. They eventually tried to escape by running into the hills and were massacred by the Spaniards.
6. “Love Story” By Taylor Swift
Who doesn’t know Romeo and Juliet’s tragic love story? There was no happy ending for both of them, as they came from rival families. Taylor Swift‘s “Love Story” depicts a version of Romeo and Juliet.
As we can tell from the lyrics, this is a song that mentions “running away” as an escape. Her family is against the boy she likes. Too much in love, she implores him to “take me somewhere we can be alone.” And she wants to “escape this town for a little while.”
Many people believe that Swift is referring to her romance with Joe Jonas in this song. As both of them are famous, they lack privacy. She sings about running away from the paparazzi to have time alone with him.
7. “Escape” By Metallica
Our next on the list is a song of self-resilience. Metallica‘s “Escape” came out on the album Ride the Lightning in 1984.
This song is about running away in a symbolic sense. The singer reminds us that “Life is for my own to live my own way.” It means keeping your individuality in a society that tries to dictate how you should live and what you should be.
In addition, the song reminds us not to let the world’s expectations define us. We should try to be our own person even if others frown on it.
8. “Don’t Stop Believing” By Journey
Many of us can relate to the message behind Journey‘s 1981 iconic hit “Don’t Stop Believing.” It features a city boy and a small-town girl who have left their homes to find success elsewhere.
“Took the midnight train going anywhere” symbolizes their decision to establish their roots away from home. You can imagine how this feels. Running away from the only life you’ve ever known can be scary.
Despite that, this song represents the story of people who left their homes anyway, even if they did not know what awaited them.
9. “Running Back” By Thin Lizzy
This 1976 song has a haunting melody and lyrics that invoke feelings of longing and forgiving things from long ago. Thin Lizzy‘s “Running Back” is saying that the singer will run away from his new life to go back to his lover.
The lyrics say that the protagonist is seeking to feel approval. If he could gain the forgiveness of his lost love, he would go running back to her immediately.
It is true of so many of us who have lost someone due to mistakes we have made. There is that regret and knowing that everything will be all right if they forgive us.
10. “These Boots Are Made For Walking” By Nancy Sinatra
The daughter of Frank Sinatra had a successful singing career of her own. “These Boots Are Made For Walking” is considered by many to be Nancy Sinatra‘s most famous title.
In the song, Sinatra sings as an empowered woman tired of the man she is with. She says he constantly cheats on her, takes her for granted, and disrespects her. She is leaving him and running away from their relationship.
She tells him, “These boots are made for walking… One of these days, these boots are gonna walk all over you.” In other words, one day, he will realize what he had. But then it will be too late.
11. “Janie’s Got A Gun” By Aerosmith
This song was written by Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton for the Pump album, released in 1989. When you listen to it, you’ll find a sad, sad story of a girl abused by her own father.
This could be a sensitive issue for many, but Tyler put into words the feelings that came out of the situation. In the lyrics, he sings about how she has taken revenge by shooting her father and going on the run.
A song with “run away” in the lyrics, a line says, “Run away, run away from the pain.” The pain comes from the father, who should have been her number one protector. One can only imagine how long this has been going on for it to push her on the edge and end him.
12. “Runaway” By Avril Lavigne
This list would not be complete without adding this song from Avril Lavigne’s album The Best Damn Thing from 2007. “Runaway” perfectly captures how one feels when they have a bad day.
Coming from a person as young as she was at the time, trust Lavigne to know what she sings about. In the song, she shares the feeling of a teenager who wants nothing more than to get away from their problems.
She feels like she is losing control, but in a good way. Like “letting it go,” “forgetting about everything,” and “laughing so hard it hurt like hell.”
13. “Runaway” By Ed Sheeran
Rounding our list is Ed Sheeran‘s “Runaway” from his 2014 album, X. It was a collaboration between him and Pharell Williams and had a different feel than usual.
In the song, Sheeran talks about wanting to run away with a girlfriend to escape an alcoholic father. He probably hates this part of his life when his father disappears all night to drink. It comes to a point when he feels “I don’t wanna live in his home.”
In this song, with the idea of “running away” in the title, we understand where the singer is coming from. He loves his father so much, but he years to leave a toxic environment.
Summing Up Our List Of Running Away Songs
There are many reasons musicians write about running away. It could be the desire to get away from a situation. Or to just discuss the feelings of apprehension in leaving and facing an uncertain future.
Running away can be symbolic of discovering new things about yourself, reflecting on what you left behind, or aspirations of a hopeful future. It can be about regret in past relationships or embarking on new ones.
The songs above capture the theme in different ways. Listen to them and open yourself up to the subject of running away to discover what those words mean to you.