Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)

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"Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)"
Mike the mechanics-silent running (on dangerous ground) s.jpg
One of European artworks
Single by Mike + The Mechanics
from the album Mike + The Mechanics
Released4 November 1985
GenreSoft rock, new wave
4:09 (7")
Songwriter(s)Mike Rutherford, B. A. Robertson
Producer(s)Christopher Neil
Mike + The Mechanics singles chronology
"Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)"
"All I Need Is a Miracle"

"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 on the 1985 self-titled debut album of Mike + the Mechanics. It was also released as the band's first single, peaking at number 6 on 8 March 1986[1] on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it stayed for five weeks.[2] It reached No. 21 in the band's native United Kingdom.[3]

Paul Carrack provided lead vocals on the song.[4] Alan Murphy was hired as a session guitarist and provided lead guitar on the track. 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 United States.[5]

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."[6]


"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.[7]

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.[7]

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."[8]

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.[9] Billy Drago makes a cameo appearance in the video. It was produced by Paul Flattery and directed by Jim Yukich who had done many videos for Phil Collins and Genesis.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985–1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 23
Canada RPM 100 (RPM)[11] 8
Canada Top Singles (The Record)[12] 15
Germany (Media Control Charts)[13] 8
Ireland (IRMA) 21
Netherlands (Mega Top 100)[14] 39
Poland (LP3)[15] 23
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company) 21
US Billboard Hot 100[2] 6
US Billboard Top Rock Tracks[2] 1
Year-end chart (1986) Rank
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[16] 70


The Protomen released a cover of the song as a mash-up with their own song, "Breaking Out" in 2012 as a B-side to their single "I Drove All Night", with an extended cover of the song later appearing as the final song on their 2015 album, The Cover Up.


  1. ^ "Silent Running" chart history,
  2. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). Billboard Books. p. 425. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4.
  3. ^ Mike + The Mechanics UK chart history, The Official Charts. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  4. ^ Mike + The Mechanics (Media notes). Mike + The Mechanics. 1985.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  5. ^ "Mike + The Mechanics Filmography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  6. ^ Kirby, Mark; Kidd, Warren; Koubel, Francine; Barter, John; Hope, Tanya; Kirton, Alison; Madry, Nick; Manning, Paul; Triggs, Karen (2000). Sociology in Perspective. Heinemann. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-435-33156-6.
  7. ^ a b Neer, Dan (1985). Mike on Mike [interview LP], Atlantic Recording Corporation.
  8. ^ Casey Kasem's American Top 40 – The 80's from 15 February 1986
  9. ^ Mike + the Mechanics: Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)[promotional video]. 1986.
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ Nanda Lwin (1999). Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide. Music Data Canada. ISBN 1-896594-13-1.
  12. ^ Nanda Lwin (1999). Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide. Music Data Canada. ISBN 1-896594-13-1.
  13. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Mike + The Mechanics / Single". Music Line (in German). Germany: Media Control Charts. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  14. ^ "Silent Running" chart history, Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  15. ^ "Notowanie nr 214" (in Polish). 26 April 1986. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  16. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (27 December 1986). "1986 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 98, no. 52. p. Y-21.