Before They Make Me Run

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: January-April 1978        
Recording location: Pathť Marconi Studios, Paris, France & Atlantic Studios, New York, USA
Producers: The Glimmer Twins        Chief engineer: Dave Jordan
     Mixer: Dave Jordan      Performed onstage: 1989-90, 1994-95, 1999, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2012-16, 2018-19, 2021


Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Keith Richards
Acoustic guitar: Keith Richards
Electric guitars: Keith Richards & Ron Wood
Slide electric guitar: Ron Wood
Pedal steel guitar: Ron Wood
Lead vocal: Keith Richards
Background vocals: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Ron Wood


Worked the bars and sideshows along the twilight zone
Only a crowd can make you feel so alone - and it really hit home
Booze and pills and powders, you've got to choose your medicine
Well it's another goodbye to another good friend

Well after all is said and done
I've got to move while it's still fun
Well let me walk before they make me run

After all is said and done
I've got to move, it's still fun
I'm going to walk before they make me run

Watch my taillights fading, there ain't a dry eye in the house
They're laughing and singing - well they're dancing and drinking as I left town
I'm going to find my way to heaven 'cause I did my time in hell - oh yeah
I wasn't looking too good but I was feeling real well

Well after all is said and done
I've got to move, I've had my fun
Well let us walk before they make us run

Well after all is said and done
I didn't hide, had my fun
And I will walk before they make me 
I will walk before they make me run
I will walk before they make me run
I will walk before they make me run

So if it's all been said and done
I've got to move, I've had my fun
Well let me walk before they make me run
Oh let
me walk before they make me run
I want to walk before they make me run

Before they make me run


Keith's got a strong optimistic streak. His last complete song was Happy. And he wrote nearly all of this one except for one or two Oh yeahs in the middle. It's definitely his song.
- Mick Jagger, 1978

It came fairly easily. Once I got through the work in the bars and the stuff, it probably took me a week (to write it). I would sort of do a verse a day, slowly add to it. But I wasn't conscious of it being particularly autobiographical. I just thought it was an interesting story. But sometimes what's close to you, you don't see.
- Keith Richards, 2011

It's pretty autobiographical... I was feeling a little hounded, so I think it came out of feeling that. I was on the run, basically. Very few countries would accept me at the time.
- Keith Richards, 2011

(Y)ou never know where songs come from. I probably only realized it much later, but obviously I was under several indictments at the time, and the impetus came from there. I was living all over the place at the time, man. I was moving from space to space. I was sort of on the run. That was the whole thing. But when I was writing it, I was just writing another song. You know, itís a got a good feel, itís got a good title. It was only later on I realized I was actually writing about myself. That happens quite often.
- Keith Richards, 2011

I wrote most of Before They Make Me Run, but it was Keith's idea.
- Mick Jagger, 1978

Before They Make Me Run and Beast of Burden were basically collaborations.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)

Rotten Roll was the working title for Before They Make Me Run.
- Keith Richards, 1978

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.
- Chris Kimsey, 2002

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 giong. 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.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)

It holds a special place in my heart. There's several reasons, one of them quite mechanical: it's so easy, and such a groove to play onstage, that you always want to play it. You can feel the band loving it. At the same time, it's one of my best songs, I really enjoy singing it, and it still seems fresh to me when I do it.
- Keith Richards, 2018

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