On The Run

Album: The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song deals with the pressures of travel, which Rick Wright said would often bring fear of death.
  • The lead instrument is a synthesizer. Many people consider this song one of the earliest pieces of Techno music.
  • When the band performed this in concert, a model airplane would fly from one end of the arena to the other crashing in a brilliant explosion.
  • When the Dark Side of the Moon suite was performed in 1972 (before the album was released), it went under the title "The Travel Sequence" and was, instead of a complex electronic instrumental, a more simple guitar jam.
  • The Chicago Bulls NBA team uses this for visiting-team player introductions.
  • At approximately 25 seconds into the piece, the sound of a voice on a loudspeaker can be heard. Some think it to be an "airport voice" calling notices to travelers. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tim - PGH, PA, for all above
  • The keyboard which can be heard throughout the song is only 5 notes being repeated at a high speed. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    leia - buffalo, NY
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Comments: 32

  • Brian from La Mesa, CaI love Oll's comment.

    Ken from Castle Rock has a good interpretation that sounds very plausible.

    The one I have stuck with all these years is similar to John of Mount Kisco. Once, my brother told me his interpretation, and I thought it was very appropriate. It begins like John's, but the man does indeed catch the plane and perishes. He was desperate to catch the plane only to end up dying. Had he accepted fate, and not been determined to force his will on the situation and let the plane depart without him, he would have lived. It seems to fit the last line of "Breath" and the theme of "Time."

    That said, I would like to think that John was right and that the man missed the flight.

    By the way, my brother's interpretation reminds me of a reportedly true story of a man who gave up his seat on PSA Flight 182 as it left from Sacramento to San Diego, California in 1978 because he was not in a rush to get home. The woman who took his seat was very grateful (I think she had missed an earlier flight). The plane crashed as it approached San Diego's airport, killing all on board. I remember seeing, from my school, the smoke rising from the suburban area where it came down. My father also could have been on the flight, as he was supposed to be at a business meeting in Sacramento, but chose not to attend. Some of the passengers were his coworkers who had been at the meeting.
  • Olli from FinlandPoor Peter James (assistant engineer). He had a job of running back and forth while engineer Alan Parsons recorded him.
  • John from Mount Kisco, NyI was told the song was meant to be ironic,
    *Man runs for a plane only to miss it, he get's to the gate windows in time to see the flight crash during take-off.*
    I agree, a great lead in to the song time, that talks about how we choose to spend the time we have.
    I always thought the whole album was about the human experience, about what we decide to do with our lives before the great gig in the sky.

    Thanks for the "Live for today, gone tomorrow that's me."
  • Drake from Huntington Beach, CaThis song is maybe the fear of flying? I've seen a DSOTM cover case with a silhouetted Private jet on it, plus a shaded building-like structure in front of it as we'll. The song sounds like it too. The airport Terminal, The Turbulance, and The Crashing Noise. This probably could be a future death and a resembles to something else as well.
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjI have a new respect for this song after reading these comments. Thank you.
  • Mark from Yorba Linda, CaI always thought of this song as the perfect companion to the last line of "Breathe" - "you race towards an early grave" - this song is about how we race along in life. Or something.
  • Jesse from Madison, WiAfter commenting on what I was thinking yesterday, I thought I'd better recheck against the facts contained within the Making Of... DVD and lo and behold, I was WRONG! I could swear I remember David hitting six notes to make up the pattern but after watching the DVD, he indeed hits eight. Sorry for the misinformation and kudos to the previous commentor that stated it was an eight-note sequence. It shouldn't be so "standard" but oh well, the Floyd was a rock band, so standard 4/4 is the norm. I just think how the pattern would flip on itself over the course of several measures if it WERE a six-note sequence! Now what about that 7/4 that makes up "Money"?
  • Jesse from Madison, WiWOW! Lots spoken here. Well, yes! This is one of the very first pieces of true-to-life "Techno" music. The electronic hi-hat was built right in to the sequence of notes and was conceived and played back on an EMS Synthi (brother of their VCS3 with built-in digital sequencer - first of its kind, preceded even Tom Oberheim's DS-2) synthesizer. I believe (I've got the "Making Of.. DVD) that Roger used a six note sequence but I will not demand that I'm right! I swear when David demonstrated how it was set up he hit six notes before playing it back and speeding it up. As far as how innovative this track is and was, well, I'm at a loss for words. FANTASTIC. It legitimizes my love for techno. I no longer feel guilt. But I like real techno made the same way, not cut-and-paste stuff made with computers. Great track! An ALL-TIME FAVORITE of mine!
  • Jeff from Portland, OrI saw this performed in concert in 1972 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. A circular screen behind the band showed the view from a hospital bed being wheeled down a long corridor into surgery. The operating room was at the very end of the corridor. The voices that sound like an airport, are the hospital's public address system. The impression I had was that the patient was being taken in for brain surgery. There was a red light blinking at the end of the seemingly endless corridor.
  • Brad from Lexington, KyOnly Pink Floyd could be good enough to make an instrumental song have a concept.
  • Ken from Castle Rock, CoI forgot to add in the fact the very next song on the album is "Time". The song obviously begins with the sonorous chiming of bells which may be in fact- rousing the dreamer from his nightmarish dream of flying on the previous song, "On the Run".
  • Ken from Castle Rock, CoI believe On the Run is actually about someone experiencing a nightmarish dream of flying. If you listen to the song, the voice on the airport public address system is not very clear and is rather haunting. Even the sound of the footsteps can be considered unrealistic for a reason- the protagonist of the song is enduring a dream where he is flying- it is a common fear and a common dream most of us encounter- the fear of flying.

    The unfortunate dream continues with the protagonist on the airplane flying, and of course, the protagonist is very uneasy with this event. And at the end of the song, the plane then crashes.

    At 27 seconds into the piece, the sound of a female voice on a loudspeaker can be heard; apparently an airport public address system. She is saying, "Have your baggage and passport ready and then follow the green line to customs and immigration. BEA flight 215 to Rome, ? and Lagos"
    Ken Rafferty
  • Grant from Olympia, WaDepending on how you sync On the Run to the Wizard of Oz, you can see Dorothy's eyes following the sounds in the sky.
  • Patrick from Chicago, IlWow. I can't believe how many people have trashed this song? "On The Run" is an awesome song, I wouldn't ever consider it not being a Pink Floyd song...
  • Bryan from New York, NyIt's got a good rhythm, but is not worth the three and a half minutes, no offense fans, but Floyd has done much better.
  • Ed from York, Pathis song is all electronic and industrial, it sounds absolutely nothing like Pink Floyd
  • Xander from Towson, Mdon the run(the travel sequence)has a scary point in it where the hi-hat cymbal starts and then this 8 note sequence starts of low note music
  • Steveb from Spokane, WaIf you think this song blows, you may be right. But its also very likely that you miss the point of dark side completely because its a vital section of it. Its more of a transition to the whole album as one song... if you listen to each one individually its more of a collection of really good popular rock songs, not the brilliant progressive rock epic that it is altogether.

    It deals with insanity, the man who says "Live today, gone tomorrow, that's me" goes back to how if you are "balanced on the biggest wave you race towards an early grave" and how being a non conformist will allow you no advancement in this world. The attendant, cars, airplanes, and gunfire are all just examples of how much danger exists in our world for the sake of technology... not quite worth it if you look at the numbers and what it has done to the minds of people. I believe the footsteps, going left to right in speakers, are a method of conveying an attempted mental escape, that you are "on the run" in your mind, so to speak, with your desire to be the individual that you are despite the world around you which disallows you to be so. Listen to this song with headphones to feel the entire effect.
  • Patrick from Tallapoosa, GaLadies and gentlemen please have your passports ready
  • Justin from Alexandria, TnI like the UFO sound at the end
  • Phil from Centerport, Nytom, ,we're from the same town, and i'm ashamed
  • Stacey from St.petersburg, FlI love this song and it doesn't blow it cause you don't like it
  • Jonathan from TorontoThis song may not b a song that you would listen to normally, but this song gives off a feeling of intensity when I listen to it. It doesn't blow.
  • Tom from Northport, Nyi love this album but lets face it, this song really blows
  • Nathaniel from Pittsburgh, PaFirtst off i was wondering if anyone could posible figure out what is said at the beiging of the song. to me it sound like someone over a loud speaker saying flight times. but i cant make out the really words she is saying. also i think that the only words spoken in this song have a great meaning. "leaving today gone tomaro thats me" i think that the the band was trying to say dont just wast your life cause you couild be gone tomaro. those lyrcis also deal with time and travle
  • Nick from Roswell, GaI think that royal from atlanta is pretty on the money here. I mean the terminal lady voice followed by footsteps and engines and running and laughing and blowing up. This song is so intense! I also think that this is the first techno song.

  • Eric from Warwick, Risounds like a spaceship...always reminds me of close encounters of the third kind...
  • Ashley from Moncton, CanadaI always believed the song symbolised a certain feeling of concern for the future. Sort of like just as you begin to realize what death really means to you, and realize that your time is running short on certain things. This song feels like procrastination. Then Time comes on and it's like you finally begin to think you should really get things done or you'll run out of time.
    I think Tyler from Petaluma's comment on Rent demontrates the theory of synchronicity.
  • Tyler from Petaluma, Caanother interesting thing is if you synch dark side of the moon up with the movie version of RENT. Here are a few coincidences
    1) first, you have to press play exactly when you hear the first piano chord in the "Seassons of Love" song, then mute the TV
    2) during Speak to me, as the camera pans the cast on the film, the sound effects get more and more intense until finally when the camera reaches Mark Breath starts
    3) during the line "the high you fly" Joanne is raising her hand
    4) On the Run starts at the same time as RENT starts in the film. Remember in the film after seassons of love where we are seeing Marks footage, and you know how the film transistions to film footage to the actual movie as the drums of "Rent" start? Thats the exact moment that "On the Run" starts, it actually kind of freaked me out.
    4) On the Run provides the perfect soundtrack for the chaotic "Rent" sequence
    5) as the music dies down the the thunder clashes, the camera pans widely over the village for a long shot of all the burning eviction notices
    6) The ticking clocks and chimes of Time begin about when Benny arrives (ticking time as a sign of overdue rent)
    7) Time is played throughout the song "You'll see" agian, time could represent wasted time trying to get the rent paid
    8) Great Gig plays during "On Song Glory" which is perfect considering both songs are about a fear of death
    9) The cash registers of Money start about the same time Mimi enters and "Light my Candle" begins
    10) Us and Them plays during "Today 4U" while it might not sound right for such an upbeat song, trust me, it works. The lyrics could also be saying the sepperation between Angel and Collins and Mark and Roger
    11) Any Colour plays during Tango, which is appropriate for the films only dream sequence
    12) Brain Damage plays during the life support meeting, during the line "The lunatic is in the hall" you see Mark passing the hall to get to the meeting. During the line "The lunatic is in my head" you see Gordon being apprehensive about Mark filming him. The song could also relate to the fear of AIDS messing with the peoples brains, brain damage
    13) Elcipse starts as we see the outside of the Catscratch club and ends as Mimi exits, the line "there is no dark side of the moon really" occurs when Mimi is walking back to the loft (a shot of the moon in the background)

    I seriously reccomend trying it, its not as strong as the Wizard of Oz, but its deffaintly interesting, to say the least.
  • Tyler from Petaluma, Caduring the DSOTM WOO synch, when on the run is playing, the sounds are supposed to simulate an airport terminal. Espesically shoking are two things during this sequence.
    1) as the song fades out, the sounds of crashing thunder can be heard as a shot of the clouds breaking appears on the film
    2) the ticking clocks and chimes of "Time" start right when you see Miss Gultch on her bicycle.
  • Royal from Atlanta, GaWhat conclusion I have come to is this: throughout the song you can hear a man running in what is said to be an airport. If you listen carefully, his breaths can be heard. I also have come to believe that this guy is some guy with a bomb. He has just loaded the bomb onto the plane and when it takes off you can hear his mischevious laugh in the background as the plane is blowing up. That's my thought...
  • Genna from Crown Heights, Nyi guess this song would explain what it said in comments, and it was a good idea to write this song. just like speak to me, it's not a "song".
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