Run On
by Moby

Album: Play (1999)
Charted: 33
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This was released as the second single from Play. Like its predecessor, "Honey," it made an impression on the UK charts. Aside from peaking at #33 on the Singles chart, it went to #27 Dance and #7 Indie.
  • The song samples a 1943 recording of the traditional folk song "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Bill Landford and the Landfordaires.
  • Moby told Rolling Stone that this "was one of the first songs written and it was really hard to put together, because it has so many samples in it. I didn't use computers at this point, it was all done with stand-alone samplers. When it was finished, I collapsed in exhaustion."
  • Many artists have recorded versions of "God's Gonna Cut You Down." Moby said to Rolling Stone: " I didn't know this when I recorded it, but it's a standard. Everybody's done it. Elvis Presley did a version of it, Johnny Cash did it. If you were a gospel or country star, everyone covered that song. And I had no idea."
  • This was used in an advert for the Renault Kangoo car. Moby's push towards licensing tunes for commercials and films helped drive up lagging sales of Play. It ended up selling over 12 million copies worldwide, with 2 million coming from the US.
  • This was featured in the movies Osmosis Jones (2001) and Mercy Streets (2000). It was also used in the TV series Harsh Realm in the 1999 episode "Leviathan."
  • When Melody Maker pointed out that Moby's use of blues samples on "Run On" and other tunes could be construed as exploiting impoverished Black artists, he replied:

    "To an extent that's true... though in my defense I could say that by sampling this maybe I'm bringing more recognition to it. Sampling is like a homage to something we love, and cultures are constantly going back and forth influencing each other. Hip-hop, for example, is Black music, but if you really want to deconstruct it, where would it be without samplers? Which are Japanese."

    He added: "All I can say is that there's something about African-American singing that's always resonated really strongly with me. I sampled these singers with the best intentions, very naively, and if I've done wrong, I'm sorry. But I've made a lot of tracks that have sampled Black disco records from the '70s, and I've never been accused of being exploitative there."
  • In the music video, directed by Mike Mills (Yoko Ono's "Walking On Thin Ice"), Moby is named Employee of the Month at a heavenly help line for rescuing an aerobics instructor who collapsed during her class. By the end of the clip, we learn Moby worked in a similar office environment before his death but was much less appreciated by his co-workers. Moby talked to The New York Times about the clip, which unfolds as a reverse narrative.

    "I've said to directors that I don't have much ego invested in this," he explained. "I'm realistic. I'm 33 years old and balding and not the most attractive guy in the world. I'd rather just go in and be myself."

    He said that electronic music lends itself to offbeat scenarios. "Electronic music often has a more visual quality than conventional pop," he added. "You have a wider palette of sounds."

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