You Better Run

Album: Crimes Of Passion (1980)
Charted: 42

Songfacts®:

  • This was originally performed by The Young Rascals in 1966, and was written by group members Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati. It's a kiss-off song to a girl that did him wrong, and it worked well for Benatar with the gender reversed.
  • Imagine it's 1981 and you're trying to figure out what videos to show when MTV launches on August 1. The first one is obvious: Video Killed The Radio Star. But after that, what have you got? Lots of Rod Stewart and some obscure European stuff like Haircut 100 are available, but American acts weren't making videos yet because there was nowhere to show them. You could go with Devo, who made some slick videos because they thought they could sell them on laser disc, but showing a guy whipping the clothes off his wife 5 minutes after you sign on might not be a good idea.

    Ah! Pat Benatar. An up-and-coming American who can really sing and is fun to look at. She's on the charts with "Fire And Ice," and she made a real video for "You Better Run," which was her first single from Crimes Of Passion. Sure, it's a year old, but a lot of people know the song and we need to get a guitar solo on the air soon. Be it said that Pat Benatar will be the first woman, the first American, and the first rocker on MTV.

    In a 2012 Songfacts interview with Benatar's guitarist/producer/husband Neil Giraldo, he explained, "I didn't think it would revolutionize the music industry, so to speak. First of all, I couldn't imagine a TV channel that was going to be with no commercials for 24 hours. And the other thing, I didn't realize that they were going to play those five videos over and over again for 24 hours. So if you do that for five days and you've got all those people looking at it, it went from somebody maybe knowing what you look like to where you couldn't walk the street anymore, because everybody around is going to be, 'Holy, cripe, I just saw you on MTV.' So it's like, how did that happen so fast?"
  • Benatar recorded this song for the 1980 movie Roadie, which starred Meat Loaf and featured appearances by Roy Orbison and Blondie.
  • The video for this song was fairly straightforward, with Benatar and her band belting it out in a warehouse. Over the next few years, her videos got more conceptual and more inscrutable, which didn't sit well with Neil Giraldo, who ordered a ban on historical costumes after Pat's "Shadows Of The Night" clip, where she portrayed a WWII pilot. He told us, "'You Better Run' was okay, but I didn't like videos because I thought they changed the context of the words. As videos got more popular, they became little stories or vignettes, and to me they didn't represent the song anymore."
  • According to Steve Casey, who was an executive at MTV, playing this video as just the second clip on the channel was meant to send a message to the record labels and critics of the network.
  • Benatar was genuinely angry when she shot the video for this song - she didn't like taking direction from the film geeks. In the book I Want My MTV, she said: "The bad attitude I had was exactly what we needed for that song - I come across as extremely sassy and aggressive, which was perfect for the lyric and for the image I was trying to project."
  • The music video was directed by Nick Saxton, one of the few Americans with experience in the form. To this point, he had worked with R&B acts like Earth, Wind & Fire and Michael Jackson ("Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"). In those videos, he could show dancing, but it would be a few years before anyone worked up the courage to ask Pat Benatar to dance in a video. European acts were making glamorous, conceptual videos with big budgets, but Saxton was on a shoestring, so he kept it simple, helping popularize the rock video trope of "band performing in warehouse."

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