Rolling Stones songs: Before They Make Me Run
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Booze and pills and powders, you gotta choose your medicine/ Well it’s another goodbye to another good friend…
Also known as: ‘Rotten Roll’
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: EMI Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France, March 1978
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
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.”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Before They Make Me Run,” or the action-packed misadventures of Keith
Richards. On February 7, 1977, the Stones guitarist and Anita Pallenberg
had been arrested in Toronto for possession of heroin and faced possible life
imprisonment. They had been given permission to leave Canada on the one
condition that Keith take a detox cure (in New York) prior to his trial, which
had been set for October 1978. He therefore composed “Before They Make
Me Run” with the sword of Damocles hanging over his head. Watched my
taillights fading, he sings. And then: Gonna find my way to heaven, ’cause I
did my time in hell. There is also an allusion in the song to his friend Gram
Parsons, who died in September 1973 (probably the consequence of a
combination of drugs and alcohol): another goodbye to another good
Support the page here!
Your donation helps to do what I do and keep updating the page daily. Thanks in advance!
Categories: Can You Hear the Music?
Leave a Reply