This song was Gary Richrath's answer to fellow band co-leader Kevin Cronin's "Keep On Loving You" (#1 in 1981) - both were going through difficulties in their relationships, Cronin with his wife Denise and Richrath with his girlfriend Debbie. Said Richrath: "When I wrote that, I woke up one night, half asleep, and sat down in front of the TV. There was a soap opera on it. I was just sitting there, strumming a guitar, thinking, 'God, these guys' relationships are worse than mine.' I just sat there and sang vocals about the effects of gossip and relationships breaking up, which was what was on the tube and all that was similar to what was going on in my life."
Originally, this was called "Don't Let Me Down," with lyrics geared more toward men than the final result.
This song peaked on the Hot 100 on May 30, 1981, a little over a month before MTV went on the air. The band shot a concert video for the song with director Jay Dubin, which was the ninth video MTV aired when the network launched on August 1, 1981. Shortly after the video started, the tape got glitchy and cut out, a bad omen for the band, which was soon replaced on the network by more charismatic bands that made concept videos.
The Hi Infidelity track "In Your Letter" also deals with a cheating woman. Kevin Cronin's wife Denise offered a retort in a 1981 People magazine story. "They should have called the album Wives on the Run. The band gets all this sympathy and is excused for all that goes on when they’re on the road. No one even mentions the problems of the wives who are home alone."
Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias poached the vocal melody and the "Heard it from a friend" lyric on their 2016 collaboration, "Messin' Around."
Chris from ArizonaI think you can understand the song more if you understand the guy who wrote the song better. Gary Richrath (RIP) the lead guitar player for REO back in those days, wrote the song. I heard him say in an interview once that he was not a very good “alone” person, as he put it. Knowing that bit of information then makes a difference. The song is pretty easy to understand in the beginning as the words are easy to take at face value. It’s when he says “You’re under the gun so you take it on the run” This can now be interpreted as this – right after he says “They’re talking about you and it’s bringing me down”. He says “I’m telling you babe, that I don’t think it’s true babe and even if it is keep this in mind.” First, by him adding the word “even” in the statement “Even if it is” almost sounds like he was going to say “Even if it is I don’t care” Having that word “even” in there makes you feel he was going to say something like it didn’t matter or something like that but he changed to “you take it on the run …….”. If he was sure of himself the words would have gone “And if it is keep this in mind”. At first I thought maybe the word was there to help the flow of the song but either phrase can be sung to make it flow just fine. I mean they got “and you need never look back again” to flow pretty good so I have to think that word was left in the song on purpose. The “You’re under the gun part”, I take as him satisfying his “I’m not a good alone person” thing by saying, he doesn’t think it’s true and feels it’s possible that she is being pressured by someone to be with them (Being under the metaphorical gun} and taking it on the run is her going there to just do it to satisfy this guy and then get out of there. The back and forth feeling you get is him not wanting to believe it but eventually knowing that it very well could be true. Then the chorus kicks in again and we are back to not being sure. It’s really a great song. At any rate this is my take on what the words mean. I got to this site because I wanted to see if Kevin or Gary wrote it. Mainly because if Kevin wrote it, it was a very good follow up to Keep on Loving you (KOLY). In that song it starts with implications of infidelity then this one takes it a step further. The Fact that Gary wrote TIOTR only goes to show how tight their song writing skills were when they were at the height of their fame.
Clemence from New YorkIt's just such a strange turn of phrase to me "You're under the gun so you take it on the run." I've never heard anyone say, "Take it on the run" to mean cheat on your boyfriend/husband. "Take it on the run" makes her sound like a fugitive from justice. And "You're under the gun" -- what does that mean? She's stressed out? The law is coming for her and she doesn't have many places left to hide?
These are the things that go through my mind when I hear this song, rather than just wondering whether this woman is cheating and whether he should bail.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm Gary Richrath, guitarist with REO Speedwagon from 1970 to 1989, died Sunday, September 13th, 2015 at the age of 65... Gary wrote many of the groups tunes, including "Ridin' the Storm Out" (#94-1977) and "Take It on the Run" (#5-1981) and co-produced most of their later recordings... His solo album, "Only the Strong Survive," was released in 1992... May he R.I.P
Dustin from NashvilleBrandon and Bill and others who are utterly confused by the lyrics of this song,
I am not sure what is so hard to understand about how the lyrics and music is structured in the song. Of course the lyrics flip-flop back and forth; he does not want to believe what is happening is true but he is slowly coming to terms with reality. Surely that is not so complicated?
I find it odd that people cannot understand a song written about a moment(s) in time. Instead of a definitive statement of feeling or understanding, the song represents feelings of uncertainty and the perpetual gray-zone that a person can feel when going through a break-up or divorce (which the song-writer was doing at the time he wrote this). That’s what makes situations and relationships painful and it’s also what makes inspiration for songwriters and songs…
Trying to understand how you are supposed to feel, just because someone betrays another, there is no switch to turn off feelings or redirect them and often you are left with a little bit of Love and Hate.
He's trying to give her the benefit of the doubt but as more time progresses, the more he is realizing that he needs to send her packing.
Doug from Bristol, MeActually, Camille, you were closer the way you first thought it was. I believe it's "keep kissin' my eyes." Basically, he's saying even if she's a tramp, he likes what she does to try and convince nothing's going on outside of their relationship. Lotta ambiguity going on there. "Alright, I'm tired of you. Or, maybe I'm not." He doesn't like the cheating, but he's not sure he wants to dump her, either. "You're under the gun, so you take it on the run" sounds like "I know you're looking for love (or just plain male attention) wherever you can find it." In other words, I know why you run around; I don't understand why you can't just settle down with me. More proof that it's not good to be in a relationship with anyone crazier than yourself. 8-D
Camille from Toronto, OhI always misinterpreted a line in this song. When he sings "But I'm telling you, babe, that I don't think it's true babe, and even if it is *keep this in mind*..." I used to think the words to that last line were "keep kissing my 'hind." In other words, I thought he was telling her to keep kissing his ass.
Camille from Toronto, OhHe wants to NOT believe his woman is cheating on him. Yet he can't get past the gossip going around about her. He still loves her but isn't going to put up with the cheating. I think he's trying to give her a chance to clean up her act if she wants him. He will forgive her if she does. But she can't keep cheating on him. She's gotta decide if she wants him because he's giving her an ultimatum: "if you leave tonight KEEP RUNNIN'". The song makes sense to me except I don't know what it means to "take it on the run."
Bill from San Bernardino, CaI have to agree with Brandon, I actually came on here because to me the song just makes no sense. I like the sound of the song but the lyrics are a mess. He doesn't believe it but even if it's true that's fine then a line or 2 later it's if it's true he doesn't want her around??? I was hoping to get an explaination here & sorry, Brandon's is the best one
Andy from Republic, Pa, PaI saw reo in concert in west va last summer. One of the best shows i've ever witnessed. I'm 61 and it really rocked me. The main reason is that some artists concert version of their hits aren't as good as studioo. Reeo was superb.
Robin from Rockville, MdMy favorite line of the song is, "If you leave tonight, KEEP RUNNIN'" -- I figure you may as well get it over with, and make a CLEAN BREAK of it! :-)
Paul from Kennewick, WaI've always loved it,and it far,uh, outguns Keep On Lovin' You. However,Take It On The Run reminds me of a specific girl, while the former was more of a high school anthem in my crowd.
Danny from Your Town, IaEveything on Hi-Infidelity was great, including this!
Anonymouseverytime i hear this song , it reminds me of my time in Greece from Nov. 1979 - Mar. 1 , 1982 . I believe this song may have been one of the songs Kasey Kasem played for the "America's Top 40s - End Of The Year Countdown " for 1981. At the time me and my brother was listening to it on AFRS (American Forces Radio Service)from Athens , we both were high school students going to school at ACS ( American Community School of Athens). So I think my brother recorded the song off the radio onto a round - wheel tape . It also reminds me of those times when we rode on our Grrek school bus , listening to 80s songs from the tapes the other kids would play on the bus. Back then .. we were more into 80s rock , pop music , and early rap ; plus a little heavy metal , and the dance called "Break Dancing". ..There was no "hip - hop" stuff or 90s music ; and movies we became fans to : Molly Rinwauld , Michael Jackson , Pat Benetar , etc. No junk music .
Jim from Liverpool, United Kingdomreminds me of nelson and air supply. which i personally don't fancy. but Speedwagon really kicks something.. its catchy. Heard it from a friend who...
Syed from Lakewood, CaThis song gives me nostalgic goose pimples every time I hear it. The lyrics bring back memories of my school days in the early eighties and it brings tears to my eyes when I hear the touching vocal delivering the message of a man who has lost his love to another. A true American classic rock ballad.
Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI like this song,too.I don't remember the video. I like REO Speedwagon!
Rick from Tuscola, United Statesmy favorite reo song. i live 25 miles from where reo formed. it is hard to believe they had the top album in the country for almost 2 months. hi infidelity was superb.
Eduardo from San Jose, OtherThis song reminds me of my last year of high school. I like the melody and performance. I like it better than Keep On Loving You, but the whole album was of great quality. Cronin has a great voice.
David from Youngstown, OhI try to look on the bright side of things. If you read the lyrics, you could interpret them to say I know you're a cheating whore and I'm going to kill you if you do it again. "You're under the gun so you take it on the run."
Coronaboy from Monticello, IlEddie, that was Tough Guys that had the clip from Little Rascals. That song is the next track on the album, High Infidelity. Amazing song, and the entire album is great to be honest.
Eddie from Natchez, MsAs we get older we forget things. I thought that at the start of this song there was some lines from Spanky, Darla, and Alfalfa. Am I right or wrong.
David from Indianapolis, Ini think Brandon is a little narrow. your missing it, off course he knows whether or not she cheated, he's not contridicting by saying either tell me you did it or don't and i'm gone!!! this song ROCKS!!!!!
Brandon from Peoria, IlPersonally, I think this song is stupid. It is so full of contradictions. Concerning her sleeping around, he says that he "don't believe it...not for a minute" but in the same breath he gives her an ultimatum and tells her that he don't want her around. This song reminds me of a prenuptual agreement. I love you forever...but...
Ashleigh from Palm Coast, FlI love this song. I bought REO Speedwagon's greatest hits for "Keep On Loving You" then I heard this song and I couldn't stop listening to it. This is an awesome song!!