Before They Make Me Run

Album: Some Girls (1978)

Songfacts®:

  • This is about the rock and roll lifestyle that got Keith Richards in trouble. The song was recorded while he was out on bail after getting caught with heroin and arrested for drug trafficking in Toronto in 1977. He was found guilty of the lesser charge of heroin possession, and sentenced to probation.
  • Richards sang lead and did the majority of the work on this song. With Keith's drug charges pending, Mick Jagger took a lot of control on the album, but this song was pretty much all Keith.
  • The original title was "Rotten Roll."
  • Richard's vocals were double-tracked to make them stand out.
  • This lyric in the first section is about Keith Richards' good friend Gram Parsons:

    Booze and pills and powders, you can choose your medicine
    Well it's another goodbye to another good friend


    A member of The Byrds, Parsons died in 1973 at age 26 after taking an overdose of alcohol and morphine. His corpse was stolen and burned in the Mojave Desert.
  • An engineer named Dave Jordan helped mix this song. He went on to work with groups like The Specials and The Pogues.
  • This was one of the songs that took Keith Richards the longest time to work in the studio. He explained in his book Life (2010): "For sheer longevity - for long distance - there is no track that I know of like 'Before They Make Me Run.' That song, which I sang on that record, was a cry from the heart. But it burned up the personnel like no other. I was in the studio, without leaving, for five days... I had an engineer called Dave Jordan and I had another engineer, and one of them would flop under the desk and have a few hours' kip and I'd put the other one in and keep going. We all had black eyes by the time it was finished... That's probably the longest I've done. There have been others that were close - 'Can't Be Seen' was one - but 'Before They Make Me Run' was the marathon." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 3

Comments: 26

  • Rainking from MplsWhen I finally got to see the stones I remarked that I could die now it was the last on my bucket list..this girl behind me said to her boyfriend.. that Keith was ugly and couldn't sing.. I turned around and said..who told you Rock and roll was supposed to be pretty.. KEEF is the man and a rock and roll icon.... either you get it or you don't and if you don't you have no idea what you're missing out on..
  • Daddyough from North BethesdaQuestion: Is this song MONO? For sure it's not separated like the rest of the album. Before earbuds I heard it at least hundred times on speakers, boomboxes and in the car but never noticed. Listening to the three songs it makes a sandwich with, `Respectable` is three minutes of left-right guitar repartee then `Before They Make Me Run`almost slices the listener's brain between the lobes and then `Beast of Burden` opens with some chords planted firmly in the right ear. There's one tell in `Before`though, two beats before the lyrics start in the far left it sounds like a chord is being lifted off the fret board. After that it's not the razor thin slice like when you push the mono button on your dad's old Sansui receiver but it sure ain't an aural swirl. But man sure is good.
  • Cheryl from Hesperia Who says he can’t sing?! He’s got a ‘country’ sound and tho I adore Mick, I LOVE Keefs songs. Love you Pirate Richards.
  • Sim from Cleveland RocksOne of the best songs on some girls if not the best. A true classic.
  • Zabo from Pugh, Pa.My all time favorite song in Keef's Arsenal. Love hearing him do it live as well. First time I saw a Keith Richards live and a non Stones show as well he sang this song and I was hooked like a fish on a fishing rod. I think the ticket cost less than a measly twenty bucks. Nothing better than Keef Richards really into a performance. Awesome guitarist, awesome musician, and awesome human being!
  • Jim from Long Beach, Ca"...gotta find my way to heaven, becouse I did my time in hell" great lyric!!KEEF!!
  • Chuck from Concord, NhKeith may not be a great singer, but he sings with real, raw feeling and I think the songs he chooses to sing become his alone. To hear anyone else sing them, I believe would render them less effective. ANOTHER great Keith vocal is Thru and Thru from Voodoo Lounge. It was used in a Sopranos episode to awesome effect! Give it a listen.
  • Jeff from Ft. Lauderdale, FlKnowing this was written and recorded after Keith's heroin bust I always thought he sang, "Another good bust, another good frame," instead of "Another goodbye to another good friend." Even now, if I'm not paying attention, those are still the words I hear.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaThe 8-track-tape version of "Some Girls" as TWO versions of this song, bizarrely. I think it was an eff-up on the part of the record company. I got a copy of the alternate version in an internet trade, and am glad I did. The lyrics are a little different, and the guitar solo--with slide guitar really dominating--is different.
  • Juan from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaKeith Richards is one of the best singers. Even now that he has no voice, he KNOWS and he has an incredible feeling. Listen to Slipping Away , This Place Is Empty, You Don't Have To Mean It or The Worst.
  • Patrick from Greenville, Sc"here's another goodbye to another good friend." GREAT line.
  • Neil from Liverpool, U.k., EnglandAfter the glorification of drugs on 'sticky fingers' & 'Exile..'...well...talk about growing up in public! Nice one Keef! GREAT SONG!
  • Art from Chino Hills, CaI think Kieth Richards has held up after all the years.
    and he still rocks hard before they make me run is one of the rockers best work.
    Keith and the boys are just getting better with age.
    START ME UP!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Art
    Chino Hills
  • Brittany from Vancouver, CanadaI love this song. And Keith's voice...
  • J L from Sevilla, SpainJust Keith (vocals, guitar, bass) and Charlie (drums). No Mick, Bill or Ronnie. It's all it takes to make a classic like this...and, of course, a lifestyle to match, that only Keith could afford.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaKeith Richards is cool. He isn't a singer, that's all. Check out the Song "Happy".
  • Keith from Front Royal, Va"I wasn't lookin' too good but I was feelin' really well!"--Great line.
    "Another goodbye to another good friend"--like you said refers to Gram Parsons but also refers to the many, many other friends Keith lost.

    "Keith not being able to sing is what makes the song. Maybe he has cottonmouth from drinking all night. Keith Richards is the definition of cool."
    Exactly right, my friend.
  • Daniel from West Covina, CaThe last lyrics in the first verse "Well here's another goodbye to another good friend" Keef is talking about his good mate Gram Parson (Flying Burrito Brothers) they were good friends until his tragic death.(R.I.P)Gram
  • Eddiethedemocrat from Griffin, GaI was in college at the University of Georgia and this song was close to a mantra for me and my friend David Moore (of Soperton, GA!) David died in 1987 and I still miss him terribly. Keith Richards, the Stones, and this song live on! "...I better walk before they make me run..."
  • Jack from Soperton, GaThis rickety rocker is a good one. The song kinda wobbles along much like Keith Richards walking after a few belts of Jack Daniels. Good song tucked away in an album that featured other, more popular hits.
  • Derek from Brampton, CanadaThis is my favourite Stones song! "Keith can't sing Period" :P Well hen I would have to assume you don't like the Stones or very many rock bands if that is your sole criteria as not many of them can actually sing including Mick.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScGranted he's not as good as Mick, Keith is a pretty good singer, but I've never heard this song. I don't have Some Girls.
  • Dave from Le Mars, IaKeith not being able to sing is what makes the song. Maybe he has cottonmouth from drinking all night. Keith Richards is the definition of cool.
  • Stephanie from Denver, CoKeith Richards can not sing. Period.
  • Danny from Grass Valley, CaOne of Keiths best Vocals
  • Chelsea from Nyc, OrThis was one of the two songs off "Some Girls" that was NOT performed on the '78 US Tour. keith began playing it in concert the following year with the New Barbarians.
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