23 Of The Best Songs About Running Away And Escaping

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

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 23 of the best songs about running away and escaping.

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. “Creep” By Radiohead

The English rock band Radiohead sings to the outcast in all of us in their 1993 single “Creep.” This was a worldwide hit, resonating with many who may have felt like an outcast at some point in their lives.

The song begins with the narrator recalling meeting a woman whom he feels is too good for him. He describes her as looking like an angel, contrasting the way he sees himself. He feels like he is a “creep” and a “weirdo,” and this puts such a big distance between them.

The lines “She’s running out the door (run) / She’s running out” suggest that the woman decides to distance herself from him. This reinforces his feelings of not being good enough or not fitting in.

14. “Runaway” By The Corrs

When you’re in love, you will do everything for the person you love. Even if it means running away with them. This is the sentiment behind The Corrs‘ romantic ballad “Runaway.”

Released in 1995, the song is about love, commitment, and the willingness to leave everything behind for your loved one. While it’s not about the physical act of running away, the song uses running away as a metaphor for surrendering oneself completely to love.

The lines “I have run away, run away / I have run away with you” reflect the narrator’s readiness to leave her current life to be with the man she loves.

15. “Smalltown Boy” By Bronski Beat

The British synth-pop band Bronski Beat released “Smalltown Boy” in 1984. Many can relate to the song as it’s about the experiences of a young gay man living in a non-inclusive society.

What drives him to skip town is the homophobia he faces from the people around him. Obviously, he feels trapped and unable to freely express his identity. Even his home is stifling. The lyric “The love that you need will never be found at home” suggests that his parents do not fully understand him.

The recurrent line “Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away” reflects his desire to escape his current situation. It’s the cry of someone looking to be loved for who he really is.

16. “Runaway” By AURORA

A song about escape, AURORA‘s “Runaway” speaks to the desire to find a sense of belonging. This track was released in 2016 from her album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend.

Running away in the song is more metaphorical than literal. It’s about the universal experience of feeling lost and yearning for an escape from certain situations.

Aurora herself states that sometimes, you want to get back home. It’s the realization that it’s a safe place to return to. And so running away can be considered a journey toward self-discovery and finding one’s place in the world.

17. “Runnin’ (Lose It All)” By Naughty Boy Ft. Beyoncé And Arrow Benjamin

We can learn two important things from “Runnin’ (Lose It All),” a collaboration between Naughty Boy, Beyoncé, and Arrow Benjamin. One, pursue love. Two, conquer your fears.

The lyrics use running away as a metaphor to show the internal battle one faces when chasing love and conquering fears. The narrator has been running away from their fears, insecurities, and past mistakes. It’s like a defense mechanism to avoid facing painful realities.

On the good side of things, this song conveys a sense of hope and resilience. It says that despite the urge to run away, there is a possibility of overcoming these challenges.

18. “Time To Run” By Lord Huron

Sometimes we run away after we make questionable decisions. In Lord Huron‘s “Time to Run,” the narrator escapes after doing things driven by his love for a woman.

The song opens with “It’s time to run, they’ll string me up for all that I’ve done.” This suggests committing acts that lead him to a point where he needs to escape. The line “I did it all for you, well, I hope you know the lengths I’ve gone to” indicates that these actions were motivated by his love for someone.

The narrator struggles with his choices and the consequences that follow. He’s running away for his lover and counting the days when he can find peace or resolution.

19. “Runaway” By Bon Jovi

The hit single “Runaway” comes from Bon Jovi‘s self-titled debut studio album. It talks about a young girl who feels neglected that she decides to run away from home.

The song uses running away to illustrate her desperate attempt to escape an unhappy situation. She is likely disillusioned with her life, running away as a form of rebellion and to assert her independence.

In essence, Bon Jovi’s “Runaway” is about teenage rebellion, the quest for independence, and the longing for a more fulfilling life. It shows that running away is a drastic but empowering move to change one’s life.

20. “Fly Away” By Lenny Kravitz

Another song about the desire to escape is Lenny Kravitz‘s “Fly Away.” In the context of running away, it embodies one’s yearning to break free from the current situation and explore a world beyond.

The narrator’s longing for freedom is captured in the line “I wish that I could fly / Into the sky / So very high.” It refers to a mental and emotional escape from the pressures of his life.

“Fly Away” also touches on the idea of escapism through dreams and fantasies. He yearns to fly away with someone to find a fulfilling existence somewhere.

21. “YOUTH” By Troye Sivan

One’s youth is often characterized by being lively, immature, or impulsive. It’s an age when many enjoy their lives to the fullest and do fun things. Troye Sivan‘s “YOUTH” captures this sentiment and more.

The lyrics revolve around two lovers who want to escape the constraints of their lives. They want to drop everything and run away to experience freedom. It’s about how making mistakes and loving hard are okay.

The lyrics “My youth, my youth is yours / Runaway now and forevermore” suggest that running away is a shared experience. Here, giving one’s youth to someone else serves as an act of love and trust.

22. “The Sweet Escape” By Gwen Stefani Ft. Akon

The title track to Gwen Stefani‘s 2006 album is “The Sweet Escape,” featuring Akon. It serves as an apology for a fight between two lovers. The narrator wishes for an escape to a more harmonious place where they can start afresh.

The song does not necessarily suggest physically running away from a situation. Instead, it’s about emotionally escaping from feelings of guilt and regret after a fight. The sweet escape she refers to is an idealized state of their relationship where everything is perfect.

At its core, “The Sweet Escape” uses running away as a metaphorical device to embody reconciliation, and a happier, conflict-free relationship.

23. “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 yearns 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 captured 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.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.