Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)

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"Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)"
Single by Mike + The Mechanics
from the album Mike + The Mechanics
Released 4 November 1985
Format 7"
Recorded 1985
Genre Soft rock
Length 6:14
4:09 (7")
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Mike Rutherford, B. A. Robertson
Producer(s) Christopher Neil
Mike + The Mechanics singles chronology
"Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)"
1985
"All I Need Is a Miracle"
1986

"Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)" is a song performed by Mike + The Mechanics. Written by Mike Rutherford and B. A. Robertson, it was the first track from their 1985 self-titled debut album. It was also released as the band's first single, reaching number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it stayed for five weeks.[1] It reached number 21 in the band's native United Kingdom.[2]

Paul Carrack provided lead vocals on the song.[3] The song's original title was simply "Silent Running"; the name extension was given when the song was chosen to appear in the 1986 movie On Dangerous Ground, which was titled Choke Canyon in the US.[4] The longer title for the song has proved confusing, not only because of the film's different title in the US, but because the song's lyrics have nothing to do with the film. Possibly because of this, the song is listed as "Silent Running" on many later releases, such as the Hits album.

The song was banned by the BBC during the Gulf War due to its address of war, nationalism and religion, as well as a direct reference to weaponry in the line, "There's a gun and ammunition just inside the doorway."[5]

The Protomen released a Cover version of the song as a mash-up with their own song, Breaking Out in 2012 as a B-Side.

Composition and meaning[edit]

"Silent Running" was one of the first songs to come from the Rutherford/​Robertson songwriting partnership. It was, in fact, one of a series of songs that the two wrote simply to test how effective collaboration between them would be. When producer Christopher Neil heard it on a demo tape that Rutherford played for him, however, he recommended that it be used for the album.[6]

According to Rutherford, the song

is about a guy who's traveled light-years away, out in space somewhere, and he's ahead in time. Therefore he knows what's going to happen to his wife and kids back home, on Earth. And he's trying to get the message to them to say what's going to happen, the kind of anarchy, the breakdown of society, to tell them to be prepared.[6]

When Rutherford was looking for a title for this particular song, he says, "I called it Silent Running, because I remembered that film so well, and our song, had a spacey feel to it."[7]

Music video[edit]

The song's video features a few clips from the film Choke Canyon, but is primarily based on the completely unrelated story on which the song's lyrics are based.[8] Billy Drago makes a cameo appearance in the video.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985–1986) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report) 23
Canada (RPM) 8
Germany (Media Control Charts) 8[9]
Ireland (IRMA) 21
Netherlands (Mega Top 100) 39[10]
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company) 21
US Billboard Hot 100 6[1]
US Billboard Top Rock Tracks 1[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th Edition). Billboard Books. p. 425. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4. 
  2. ^ Mike + The Mechanics UK chart history, The Official Charts. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  3. ^ Mike + The Mechanics (Media notes). Mike + The Mechanics. 1985. 
  4. ^ "Mike + The Mechanics Filmography". IMDB. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Kirby, Mark; Kidd, Warren; Koubel, Francine; Barter, John; Hope, Tanya; Kirton, Alison; Madry, Nick; Manning, Paul; Triggs, Karen (2000). Sociology in Perspective. Heinemann. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-4353-3156-6. 
  6. ^ a b Neer, Dan (1985). Mike on Mike [interview LP], Atlantic Recording Corporation.
  7. ^ Casey Kasem's American Top 40 – The 80's from 15 February 1986
  8. ^ Mike + the Mechanics: Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)[promotional video]. 1986.
  9. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Mike + The Mechanics / Single". Music Line (in German). Germany: Media Control Charts. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Silent Running" chart history, Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 16 November 2011.