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When Keith Richards spent five days without sleep recording ‘Before They Make Me Run’ (1978)
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From the ‘Some Girls’ book by Cyrus R.K. Patell (33 1/3 series, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2011):
Working in open G during sessions that were dominated by songs in the key of A did not, however, make Before They Make Me Run an easier song to put together. In fact, it may have made it harder. Richards says that “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 the (Some Girls) 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”.
Engineer Chris Kimsey recalls that “Keith had a bee in his bonnet about that song. He just wanted to go in and get completely absorbed and lost in it, which he did. He got Dave Jordan in, and I remember seeing Dave after five days in the studio working with Keith on that same song. When he went in he looked quite tanned and healthy; when he came out he was a greyer shade of white. He couldn’t handle it after that”.
Richards’s obsession with getting the song right no doubt stemmed from the fact it became a focal point for the emotions, worries, and uncertainties of that moment in his life, He himself admits, ‘It came out of what I had been going through and was still going through with the Canadians. I was telling them what to do. Let me walk out of this goddamn case. When you get a lenient sentence, they say, oh, they let him walk”. (Ref. when keith richards)
Richards tells us comparatively little about recording the other nine songs on Some Girls, other than indicating the importance of the “little green (MXR) box” that he used on a number of songs, and you get the feeling that he still thinks of that album as overly dominated by Jagger’s interests. But he goes on at length about Before They Make Me Run:
“”Why do you keep nagging that song? Nobody likes it” “Wait till it’s finished!” Five days without a wink of sleep. 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. I don’t know what was so difficult about it; it just wasn’t quite right. But then you get guys that’ll hang with you…
…You’ll be standing there with a guitar around your neck and everybody else is conked out on the floor. Oh no, not another take, Keith please. People brought in food, pain au chocolat. Days turned into nights. But you just can’t leave it. It’s almost there, you’re tasting it, it’s just not in your mouth. It’s like fried bacon and onion, but you haven´t eaten it yet, it just smells good. By the fourth day, Dave looked like he’d been punched in both eyes. And he had to be taken away. “We got it, Dave”, and somebody got him a taxi. He disappeared, and when we were finally finished, I fell asleep under the booth, under all of the machinery”.
He awoke to discover the studio in use by the members of the Paris police band, managing to escape with his stash undetected. (Ref. when keith richards)