Before They Make Me Run

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"Before They Make Me Run"
Song by The Rolling Stones
from the album Some Girls
Released9 June 1978
RecordedMarch 1978; Pathé Marconi Studios,[1] Paris
GenreBlues rock
LabelRolling Stones
Producer(s)The Glimmer Twins
Some Girls track listing

"Before They Make Me Run" is a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, featured on their 1978 album Some Girls.

Written by guitarist Keith Richards, the song is a response to his arrest for heroin possession in Toronto in February 1977. The criminal charges and prospect of a prison sentence loomed over the Some Girls recording sessions and endangered the future of the Rolling Stones.[2]

In the lyrics, Richards reflects unapologetically on his lifestyle up to that point. The line "it's another goodbye to another good friend" in the first verse can be interpreted as referring to Gram Parsons, Richards's close friend who died in 1973 from a drug overdose,[3] and/or to heroin itself: Richards had sought medical treatment for heroin addiction following his arrest in Toronto, and his resolution to overcome his addiction would be a significant factor in his upcoming trial.[4]

Richards recorded the song in five days without sleeping.[5] Originally entitled "Rotten Roll", the song was recorded in a Paris studio in March 1978 during one of Mick Jagger's absences from the Some Girls sessions.[6] The completed track - "a high-energy rock & roller"[7] - features Richards on lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars and bass; Ronnie Wood on pedal steel guitar, slide guitar and backing vocals, Charlie Watts on drums, and Jagger on backing vocals.[8]

Richards first performed the song in concert on the New Barbarians' tour of North America in 1979; it was not until the Steel Wheels Tour in 1989 that it entered the Rolling Stones' concert repertoire.[9] Like "Happy", the song has become one of Richards' "signature tunes", performed on most Rolling Stones tours since 1989; he also played it on the X-Pensive Winos' 1992-93 tours promoting his album Main Offender.[9]

Live performances of the song are included in the Stones' 2003 Four Flicks DVD collection and as bonus tracks in their 2013 and 2016 DVD & Blu-ray sets Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live and Havana Moon.

Steve Earle has also performed the song in concert and has recorded it as part of a split single with the Supersuckers.[10] Great Lake Swimmers covered the song on the 2011 album Paint it Black: An Alt-Country Tribute to the Rolling Stones.


  1. ^ Recording of Some Girls at Pathé Marconi studios
  2. ^ Appleford, Steve (2000). Rip This Joint: The Rolling Stones: The Stories Behind Every Song. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 162–163. ISBN 1-56025-281-2.
  3. ^ Appleford 2000. pg. 162-163
  4. ^ Flippo, Chet (1985). On the Road with the Rolling Stones. Doubleday/Dolphin. pp. 134–136. ISBN 978-0-385-19374-0.
  5. ^ "Keith Richards' Wildest Escapades: 19 Insane Tales". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  6. ^ Elliott, Martin (2002). The Rolling Stones: Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002. Cherry Red Books. p. 263. ISBN 1-901447-04-9.
  7. ^ Elliott 2002. pg. 262
  8. ^ McPherson, Ian. "Track Talk: Before They Make Me Run". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  9. ^ a b Zentgraf, Nico. "The Complete Works of the Rolling Stones 1962-2008". Archived from the original on 19 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "Steve Earle: Miscellaneous Lyrics". Retrieved 2008-03-18.

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