Runnin' with the Devil

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"Runnin' with the Devil"
Van Halen - Runnin' With The Devil US single cover.jpg
Single by Van Halen
from the album Van Halen
ReleasedMay 6, 1978
Format7" 45 RPM
GenreHard rock
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen
Producer(s)Ted Templeman
Van Halen singles chronology
"You Really Got Me"
"Runnin' with the Devil"
"Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love"
Music video
"Runnin' with the Devil” on YouTube

"Runnin' with the Devil" is the second single from Van Halen's 1978 eponymous debut album. The song lyrics were inspired by the Ohio Players song "Runnin' from the Devil".[1] In 2009, it was named the 9th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[2]


The song begins with a collection of car horns sounding. The horns were taken from the band’s own cars and mounted in a box and powered by two car batteries, with a foot switch. Producer Ted Templeman slowed the horns down before adding them to the track. This same idea was first used during the band’s club sets and appeared on the Gene Simmons-recorded demo of the song, as well as the song "House of Pain" which preceded it on the demo.[3] A four-measure guitar solo is played after the second and third chorus.[4]

Initial pressings of the Van Halen compilation Best Of, Vol.1 contained an alternate edit of "Runnin' with the Devil" where the verses, chorus and solos were arranged in a different order than that of the original album version. It was reported that this was accidental and subsequent pressings have replaced this version with the one found on Van Halen. However, some radio stations still play this erroneous version of the song.


The song's lyrics have often been misinterpreted as being satanic, yet the members have never revealed the full meaning of the song. It is usually interpreted as being about the life of a touring young band. The song's verses deal with an individual's experience, including learning that a "simple" lifestyle is not as simple as it appears. The lyrics "Runnin' with the devil" are usually interpreted as being a reference to freedom. In the song freedom is portrayed as a lack of social ties and living in the present.[4] The song's meaning has also been interpreted as being an attempt to convince a person that the theme of a simple life is not wrong as it appears. Therefore, the lyrics of "Runnin' with the devil" would not be serious.[5]


Chart positions[edit]

1978/1980 Weekly Chart Peak
Belgian VRT Top 30[6] 11
Dutch Mega Charts[7] 2
Dutch Top 40[8] 8
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[9] 84
U.K. Singles Chart[10] 52
1980 Year-End Chart Position
Belgian VRT Top 30[11] 76
Dutch Megacharts[12] 30
Dutch Top 40[13] 53


  1. ^ Van Halen I.
  2. ^ "Vh1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs". Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  3. ^ "Runnin' With The Devil". Van Halen News Desk. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b Walser, Robert (1 April 2013). Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Wesleyan University Press. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  5. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Howard, Christian David (2004). "The New Rolling Stone Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Radio2 top 30: 8 oktober 2016 | Radio2". Archived from the original on 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  7. ^ Steffen Hung. "Van Halen - Runnin' With The Devil". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  8. ^ "Van Halen - Runnin' With The Devil". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  9. ^ "Van Halen - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  10. ^ "VAN HALEN | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  11. ^ "Lucky's Disco-bar voor wie houdt van feesten". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  12. ^ Steffen Hung. "Dutch charts portal". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  13. ^ "SINGLE TOP lOO : 1980" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-10-13.

External links[edit]