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Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)

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"Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)"
European picture sleeve
Single by Mike + The Mechanics
from the album Mike + The Mechanics
Released7 October 1985 (UK)[1]
4 November 1985 (US)[2]
GenreSoft rock
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[3] on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it stayed for five weeks.[4]

Paul Carrack provided lead vocals on the song.[5] 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.[6] The single was re-released in the UK in January 1986 to tie-in with the film, and peaked at No. 21 in the UK charts.[7]

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."[8]


"Silent Running" was one of the first songs to emerge from the Rutherford/Robertson songwriting partnership. It was among a series of songs that the pair wrote in order to test the results of their collaboration. When producer Christopher Neil heard the song on a demo tape that Rutherford played, he recommended that it be used for the album.[9]

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.[9]

Rutherford named the song after the film Silent Running "because I remembered that film so well, and our song had a spacey feel to it."[10]

Music video[edit]

The song's video features several clips from the film Choke Canyon, but it is primarily based on the completely unrelated story upon which the song's lyrics are based.[11] Billy Drago makes a cameo appearance in the video. It was produced by Paul Flattery and directed by Jim Yukich, who had directed many videos for Phil Collins and Genesis.


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1985–1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[12] 23
Canada RPM 100 (RPM)[13] 8
Canada Top Singles (The Record)[14] 15
Ireland (IRMA) 21
Netherlands (Mega Top 100)[15] 39
United Kingdom (OCC) 21
US Billboard Hot 100[4] 6
US Billboard Top Rock Tracks[4] 1
West Germany (Media Control Charts)[16] 8

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1986) Rank
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[17] 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. ^ "Music Week" (PDF). p. 20.
  2. ^ "Great Rock Discography". p. 324.
  3. ^ "Silent Running" chart history, Song-database.com
  4. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). Billboard Books. p. 425. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4.
  5. ^ Mike + The Mechanics (Media notes). Mike + The Mechanics. 1985.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  6. ^ "Mike + The Mechanics Filmography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  7. ^ Mike + The Mechanics UK chart history, The Official Charts. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b Neer, Dan (1985). Mike on Mike [interview LP], Atlantic Recording Corporation.
  10. ^ Casey Kasem's American Top 40 – The 80's from 15 February 1986
  11. ^ Mike + the Mechanics: Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)[promotional video]. 1986.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ Nanda Lwin (1999). Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide. Music Data Canada. ISBN 1-896594-13-1.
  14. ^ Nanda Lwin (1999). Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide. Music Data Canada. ISBN 1-896594-13-1.
  15. ^ "Silent Running" chart history, Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Mike + The Mechanics / Single". Music Line (in German). Germany: Media Control Charts. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  17. ^ "1986 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 98, no. 52. Nielsen Business Media Inc. 27 December 1986. p. Y-21.