35 Great Songs About Running Away

Sometimes running away is the smartest thing you can do. I don’t doubt that for a second.

But popular society’s views don’t often have a kind opinion of it, whether in films, tv shows, music, or books. 

So even if you did the right thing to get out of a bad situation, later on, you may find yourself second-guessing your decision, as if you acted cowardly. 

After all, John Wayne wouldn’t back down from a fight, would he?

And your father is going to be so disappointed.

But don’t worry because some musicians have you covered with songs about when escaping.is the correct course of action. 

And knowing that others have been through the same experiences is always comforting.

So here are some songs about running away from places, situations, and people.

1. I Ran (So Far Away)

Would you rather have been in a band that everybody has forgotten or a band that people mostly remember for their outrageous hairstyles?

A Flock of Seagulls actually had a few cool songs even if they didn’t age that well.

This one is about a guy who is so smitten with a beautiful woman that his initial instinct is to run away because… it would just be too intense I guess?

Keep in mind that this was in the 1980s and a lot of New Wave singers weren’t afraid to show their sensitive sides.

But then the lyrics take a weird turn as they are abducted by aliens and he is trying to escape from the tractor beam of the UFO. Seriously. 

  • Written by: A Flock of Seagulls
  • Year Released: 1982
  • Album: A Flock of Seagulls

2. Run to the Hills

This track about European colonists hunting down and destroying Native American communities was pretty reflective for a Heavy Metal band of their era. And I say good for them. 

This song is about retreating when you are outnumbered and outgunned. 

So there is no cowardice here; it’s just about living to fight another day.

The verses are written from several different people’s viewpoints but it’s clear that Iron Maiden was condemning what European settlers did. 

  • Written by: Steve Harris
  • Year Released: 1982
  • Album: The Number of the Beast

3. Runaway

If I can be nostalgic for a time when I wasn’t even alive, I feel like they don’t really write vocal melodies like this anymore. Maybe all the good ones have already been done. 

This song is about as classic as you can get and Del sings about a girl who broke up with him, comparing her to a runaway. 

Why did she leave? The character in the song honestly seems to have no idea.

It just goes to show you can never really know what is going on in someone else’s private little world. 

  • Written by: Del Shannon and Max Crook
  • Year Released: 1961
  • Album: Runaway with Del Shannon

4. Something in the Way

This song remains kind of an oddity in Nirvana’s catalog. 

It was so different from most Nirvana songs and showed that Kurt Cobain wasn’t a one-trick  pony.

This song is about someone living under a bridge and while Nirvana members said that Cobain never lived at the particular place being referenced, he did run away from home as a teenager.

So fictionalized or not, the emotions present in the song came from real-life experiences. 

  • Written by: Kurt Cobain
  • Year Released: 1991
  • Album: Nevermind

5. Run On

This song that Moby built around samples from Run On for a Long Time by Bill Landford and the Landfordairs, was actually based on an even older hymn.

So in the lyrics here we have someone with loose morals being advised to get a move on to “try” to outrun the wrath of God (the original song was God’s Gonna Cut You Down). 

But there is also some reference to a homewrecker being advised to get out of the community, which is probably more a warning of impending physical harm than spiritual.  

Which type of warning is scarier to you depends on your personal beliefs. Cool song though. 

  • Written by: Moby
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Album: Play

6. Ms. Jackson

Since we’ve covered people ending relationships as being runaways I think it would be cool to take a look at this early 2000s banger of a song.

Because it offers a little twist to the normal metaphor

Basically this one tells a story of a man who can’t seem to earn the respect of his baby mama’s mother. She has always thought of him as a deadbeat.

And much of the song’s lyrics are statements that he will continue to thrive and be present in his kid’s life even if things didn’t work out with Ms. Jackson’s daughter.

So it comes down to running away from a bad relationship that involves a child, without running away from responsibilities to the kid. Nice.

  • Written by: Outkast and David Sheats
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Album: Stankonia

7. Runaway Train

This song features the singer discussing his issues with depression and empathizing with the hopeless feelings that can lead youth to run away from their homes. 

But wait, it was a little more than that. It was also something of a public service announcement for the very real-world problem of runaways. 

There were a few different music videos for the song that featured actual runaway children, some of whom have been located since although not always with a happy ending

So this is a great example of how a band can use music in a positive way and the song received a 1994 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

  • Written by: Dave Pirner
  • Year Released: 1992
  • Album: Grave Dancers Union

8. Jailbreak

Now I guess it depends on which side of the law you’re on, but what more appropriate place is there to run away from than prison?

This song was obviously about prisoners planning to bust out of jail later that night and it is definitely a product of the dangerous persona that was expected of a rock band at the time. 

Now the lyrics are actually a warning for the townspeople to take cover and stay out of the way, so the prisoner who is the protagonist of the song seems to be a halfway decent person, but he knows that his fellow prisoners won’t play nice.

Maybe this song didn’t age that well, especially the part about “Hey, good-looking female – come here”, but tons of bands have covered it over the years. 

  • Written by: Phil Lynott
  • Year Released: 1976
  • Album: Jailbreak

9. Burma-Shave

This track is about a drifter in the vein of Jack Kerouac or James Dean, who goes by the name of Presley and drives a Ford Mustang.

As he is driving he picks up a young hitchhiker who doesn’t really have any destination in mind, just anywhere but where she is:

“Mister, anywhere you point this thing has got to beat the hell out of the sting of going to bed with every dream that dies here every morning”.

Anyway, there is a story to the song that I won’t spoil for you and if you track down a live version of it, that’s even better. 

  • Written by: Tom Waits
  • Year Released: 1977
  • Album: Foreign Affairs

26 More Great Songs about Running Away

RunawayBon Jovi
Running AwayHoobastank
Born to RunBruce Springsteen
Fast CarTracy Chapman
Running AwayBob Marley and The Wailers
Free BirdLynyrd Skynyrd
Here I Go AgainWhitesnake
Turn Me LooseLoverboy
You Keep Running AwayFour Tops
RunawayThe Corrs
Runaway Child, Running WildThe Temptations
Runnin’ AwaySly and the Family Stone
RunawaysThe Killers
Run Away from It AllBlackberry Smoke
Smalltown BoyBronski Beat
Fly AwayLenny Kravitz
RunawayLinkin Park
How to Disappear CompletelyRadiohead
Sleep on the FloorThe Lumineers
Come Fly with MeFrank Sinatra
Take the Money and RunSteve Miller Band
Running ScaredRoy Orbison
Hold Me DownHalsey
I Am Born to RunAmerican Authors
Little 15Depeche Mode