20 Best Songs About Running Away
Sometimes life gets a bit tough and you want to throw in the towel and run away. Maybe your job is getting you down, you’re fighting with your partner, or you just need a break from it all. Whatever the reason, running away is an option that most of us would love to take but realistically can’t. Responsibilities and everyday life often get in the way. But it’s nice to dream about disappearing for a bit. That’s why these fantastic songs about running away are a great way to distract you from your problems.
If you can’t actually leave, you can at least imagine you are getting away with these songs. Covering a wide range of genres and artists, all of these songs focus on escaping the problems of life. Some are about getting away from a bad relationship while others detail trying to get out of a small town. No matter why you want to escape, there is no doubt a song that speaks to you.
So here are 20 of the best songs about running away you can put on to and escape from the real world, at least for a few minutes.
1. Kanye West – “Runaway”
Inspired by several controversies Kanye West found himself part of, including his 2009 Grammy’s speech incident with Taylor Swift, “Runaway” is about West begging his girlfriend to leave him due to his personal problems. West discusses his intimacy issues and terrible behavior over a probing beat and piano keys.
The music video is also stunning, featuring ballet dancers completing a routine while a white-suited West plays the piano while rapping. It’s also part of 35 minute short film about West meeting a phoenix (played by Selita Ebanks) in a forest who he takes in and teaches how to live like a human. The short film is soundtracked by nine songs from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and is quite an interesting watch.
2. Bronski Beat – “Smalltown Boy”
Here’s a bit of classic 80s pop for you from Bronski Beat. “Smalltown Boy” was a smash hit across the globe that’s actually quite deep and addresses themes of sexuality and bullying. The music video fleshes this out, depicting what is happening in the lyrics. Vocalist Jimmy Somerville is a young lad who is bullied due to his sexuality. He approaches a young man at a swimming pool but is rejected. This man and his friends then beat up Somerville.
Brought home by the police, his parents are shocked by what they learn, with his mum supporting him and his dad refusing to shake his hand when he leaves. Somerville is then seen on a train with his mates (other members of the band) goofing around and happy with who he is.
All this happens as Somerville’s falsetto floats over the synth-pop instrumentation that makes “Smalltown Boy” such a fantastic song.
3. Aurora – “Runaway”
Norwegian singer Aurora’s debut single is a pleasant folk meets synth composition highlighting the singer’s incredible vocals. First released in 2015, the song got a second life in 2021 thanks to TikTok. Written when Aurora was around 11 or 12, “Runaway” is about escaping but then realizing you want to be back home.
In an interview with The 405 she said: “It’s strange how this song fits my life better now than I could ever imagine when I wrote the song itself. It’s about how important it is to have a soft place to fall.”
4. Craig David – “Walking Away”
Fed up with his lady, Craig David decides he’s “Walking Way.” This is a top tune taken from David’s debut album Born To Do It. During the early 00s, David was one of the UK’s biggest R&B successes, with “Walking Away” reaching the third spot on the UK charts and topping the New Zealand charts.
There are two different film clips for this tune, with the original (above) showing David and his girlfriend arguing in a car. Fed up, David gets out and walks away as the background continuously changes. The other clip, shot for American audiences, finds David escaping from a range of problems, including a flooded apartment and a tornado.
5. Soul Asylum – “Runaway Train”
With a name like Soul Asylum, you’d expect some sort of death metal but this American alternative band couldn’t be further from that genre. While they’ve been together for over four decades, they really only had one bright moment. That was in 1993 when their hit single “Runaway Train” won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.
The acoustic power ballad describes lead singer Dave Pirner’s battles with depression, asking the listener, “Can you help me remember how to smile?” The song was accompanied by a music video clip featuring images of lost children followed by their full names. The band wanted to put the spotlight on missing kids, and it’s believed around 26 missing children were found after featuring in the video, although not all the reunions had happy endings, with many of the kids having been murdered.
6. Rolling Stones – “Before They Make Me Run”
Written by the Rolling Stones Keith Richards in response to his arrest for heroin, “Before They Make Me Run” is the Stones guitarist’s way of flipping the bird to everyone else. He makes no apologies for the rock and roll lifestyle he’s lived. The drugs, the sex, and the trashed hotel rooms; it’s all part of the fun.
But Richards also points out that this period of his life is finished. While he has no regrets, he wants to move on and get away from heroin and try and live a more drug-free existence.
7. Bruce Springsteen – “Born To Run”
The Boss is the man when it comes to songs about escaping your dreary day-to-day life. “Born To Run” acts as a love letter to a woman named Wendy, with Springsteen wanting to get out of Freehold, New Jersey, and live his life to the fullest. It’s a rock and roll anthem with blistering guitar riffs, pummelling drumming from Max Weinberg, and Springsteen’s passionate plea about being “born to run.” Nobody does middle America rock like the Boss.
8. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away With Me”
Taken from her critically acclaimed third album Emotion, “Run Away With Me” is a playful pop ditty from Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s a song about long-distance love and how it can be magic, despite two people not being in the same space.
“The song’s about being away from someone for so long and having to make this one weekend together count,” Jepsen explained. “It’s totally romantic and not very real-life, but there’s something kind of magical in that.”
9. Linkin Park – “Runaway”
Nu-metal favorites Linkin Park wrote this song about being tortured and bullied by society and wanting to run away from it all. It features less rapping and more singing than most of Linkin Park’s early work. It has a very Korn-type vibe to it, especially during the middle section of the song.
10. Bon Jovi – “Runaway”
The debut single from Bon Jovi perfectly encapsulates the rock of the 80s. Riveting power chords, a catchy chorus, synths, and a rollicking guitar solo. Then there’s Jon Bon Jovi himself, whose come hither voice pairs well with this rocking tune.
The runaway in the songs is a young girl who wants to get away and experience the real world where women are “made of lipstick, plastic, and paint, a touch of sable in their eyes.”
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11. Ghostface Killah – Run (ft. Jadakiss & Comp)
If you’re an aspiring criminal and need some advice on what to do when the cops come, Ghostface Killah has you covered: run! Ghostface is joined by Jadakiss and Comp on this head-bopping tune from The Pretty Toney Album. The two wax lyrical about running away from the cops when they catch you dealing.
It’s not one of Ghostface’s best, but it’s still an enjoyable mid-00s tune with some hilarious lines, such as “Can’t go to jail my momma cooking chicken for dinner” and “My Timbs start feeling like they Nike Airs on me.” Great stuff from these three.
12. Bob Marley and the Wailers – “Running Away”
This reggae number from Bob Marley and the Wailers can be interpreted in several ways. From listening to the lyrics it can be seen as a warning that you can’t run away from your problems. No matter what you have done, your problems will always be there. “Running Away” is also seen as Marley defiantly telling his critics that he is not running away and will be back.
Two days before Marley was set to play a free concert (Smile Jamacia), his house was shot up. Marley, his wife, and manager Don Taylor were all injured but survived. The politically motivated attack saw Marley and his family move to the UK. His self-imposed exile lasted two years before he returned to Jamacia and played the One Love Peace Concert, where he was able to get the two opposing political leaders to appear on stage and shake hands.
13. Lenny Kravitz – “Fly Away”
A huge hit for Lenny Kravitz in the late 90s, “Fly Away” is about getting away with your favorite person and having fun together. Although a moderate success in the States (it peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100), the song reached the top of the charts around the world. It also won Kravitz Best Male Rock Performance at the 1999 Grammy Awards.
Funnily enough, the song wasn’t even meant to be released. Kravitz wrote it after submitting his album but was convinced by a friend to include it. Kravitz sent the song through to his label, who upon hearing the song, gladly added it to the tracklist.
14. Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
This is Taylor Swift’s way of dealing with all the media scrutiny she has found herself under over the years. “Shake It Off” is about not letting the media and internet trolls get to her. It’s an upbeat tune meant for the dancefloor and is one of Swift’s biggest hits.
While most people can’t relate to being a pop music superstar, we’ve all suffered from people talking negatively about us, so taking Swift’s advice and just ignoring the trolls is the best way to go about it. So be more like Swift and just “shake it off” next time someone says something about you.
15. The Killers – “Runaways”
A lovestruck couple is having a whirlwind romance and decides to get married, but it’s not long before the guy is beginning to have doubts and wondering whether he should run away from the relationship. Although he loves her and their unborn child, he has a habit of running from his problems.
Frontman Brandon Flowers believes we are all running away from something in our lives, making us all “Runaways.” Despite this, the song is still rather positive, with the man coming to terms with his problems and wanting to continue his relationship.
“Runaways” is a return to form for The Killers after the more dance-heavy material from the third album Day & Age. Full of Springsteen-type lyrics and grandiose rock sounds, it’s everything you want from a Killers track.
16. Ed Sheeran – “Runaway”
Looking to escape from his home and living with his father who he doesn’t get along with, Ed Sheeran plans to run away with his girlfriend. The song is semi-autobiographical, with Sheeran himself fleeing to London to kick start his music career at 16, despite his parent’s reservations.
This finger-clicking ditty wasn’t originally going to be released, with Sheeran writing it during a jam session. When he played it for Elton John and told him he wasn’t going to put it on his album, Elton told him he was an idiot. So the song ended up on his X album and was a minor hit when released as a single. The morale of the story: listen to Elton John when he sepeaks.
17. Radiohead – “How To Disappear Completely”
Inspired by a dream Thom Yorke had where he is floating down the River Liffey and around the city of Dublin, “How To Disappear Completely” is an ambient composition from Radiohead’s Kid A album. There’s a soothing quality to this one, with Yorke’s understated vocals breezily swaying to the minimal instrumentation.
This is a very atmospheric track and something you’d expect to hear as part of a movie soundtrack. The chorus is influenced by REM’s Michael Stipe, who told Yorke to say the mantra, “I’m not here, this isn’t happening,” as a way to calm himself when the pressures of fame got too much.
18. Bryan Adams – “Run To You”
Poor old Bryan Adams. Not only is he in a loving relationship, but he has a side piece he is also very much in love with. “Run To You” finds him running to his mistress when things get a little tough with his actual partner. Despite Adam’s poor form (cheating on your partner is never a good idea), this 80s pop ballad is a great tune with a sweeping chorus.
The music video is very much of its time, with Adams, decked out in a black leather jacket, stonewash jeans, and sunglasses, dancing and singing in a variety of different weather conditions.
19. A Flock of Seagulls – “I Ran (So Far Away)”
A Flock of Seagulls had possibly the worst haircuts of the 80s. They also had a cracking tune in the form of “I Ran (So Far Away).” Although not a big hit in the band’s native UK, it topped the charts in Australia and reached the top ten in America.
The song itself doesn’t make a lot of sense but has something to do with a man and woman trying to escape a UFO. Not that it really matters, as “I Ran (So Far Away)” is a great, catchy tune you’ll have stuck in your head after listening.
20. Naughty Boy – La La LA (ft. Sam Smith)
This song from the UK’s Naughty Boy came out of nowhere in 2013. Featuring the vocal talents of Sam Smtih, the song is about Naughty Boy blocking out negative thoughts by covering his ears and saying “la, la, la” like a child does.
It’s an absolute tune that reached the top of the charts in an incredible 26 countries. The inclusion of Smith on vocals, who had a massive hit collaborating with Disclosure on “Latch” a year earlier, no doubt played a big part in the song’s success.
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