"Run Like Hell" is a song on the Pink Floyd album The Wall. It is preceded by "In the Flesh" and is followed by "Waiting for the Worms". The song is from the point of view of anti-hero Pink during a hallucination, in which he becomes a Nazi-like figure and turns a concert audience into a hate mob. He sends the mob out to raid nearby neighborhoods that are full of minorities.
The music was written by David Gilmour (one of the three songs on The Wall for which Gilmour wrote music), while the lyrics were by Waters alone. On the record, Roger Waters provided the vocals (sans for "Run, Run" which were provided by Gilmour), though it sounds as if two people are singing because different lines come from different speakers. The song features the only keyboard solo on The Wall (although on live performances, "Young Lust" and "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" would also feature keyboard solos); after the last line of lyrics, a synthesizer apparently takes over Waters' singing. Also in the song are the sound of Pink's mob's maniacal laughter, running footsteps, car tires skidding and a loud scream.
This song was originally much longer, however it had to be cut because of the time limitations on the original vinyl record format. Although the lyrics "You better run like Hell" appear several times in the liner notes, they are never actually heard in the song. Near the end, the same eagle-like piercing shriek can be heard, almost identical to that heard during "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" when seguing into "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II," perhaps to share the common theme of protest and uproar, yet in this case an oppressive type.
Pink sends his Nazi
followers on poor, helpless people. Jewish and black people have their homes raided and their shops destroyed. One scene depicts a racially mixed (he is black, she is white) couple cuddling in the back seat of a car when a group of neo-Nazis accosts them. The man is dragged from the car and beaten while one of the neo-Nazis rips off the woman's clothes and rapes her. (This relates principally to the lyrical segment: "...'cause if they catch you in the backseat trying to pick her locks / they're going to send you back to mother in a cardboard box...
"). The song length is reduced once again, with the second verse being sung over the keyboard solo.
The Wall concerts
During the previous song, "In the Flesh
", a giant inflatable pig
was released, which Waters referred to in a speech between both songs. The speech between each concert varied slightly, so this is used to identify which show a recording came from. On Is There Anybody out There? The Wall: Live 1980-1981
, the speech is a mix of the June 15
and June 17
speeches. It was sometimes introduced by Waters as "Run Like Fuck" and Waters and Gilmour sang different lines. In Roger Waters' The Wall
concert in Berlin
, he made no speech and sang all the lines alone. During the concert in Berlin, Waters didn't play the bass however during the 1980 tours he played the Gilmour bass line.
Following Waters' departure from Pink Floyd, the song became a regular number in the band's concerts, usually ending the show. One live version was used as the B-side to On the Turning Away
. It can be heard, for example, closing the Delicate Sound of Thunder
live album. Gilmour generally played an extended guitar introduction, and it was sung by him and touring bassist Guy Pratt
, with Pratt singing Waters' lines. In the 1994
tour, Pratt sometimes sang the name of the city where they were playing instead of the word mother
in the line "...they're going to send you back to mother in a cardboard box...
" – in the P•U•L•S•E
video (live at Earls Court
, 1994), he clearly sings London
. In fact, in his book "My Bass and Other Animals
", Pratt states that for the final leg of the tour, he replaced the word mother with the name of whichever town they were playing in.
Covers and pop culture
- The New York Mets play the "Run, run, run" refrain portion of this song whenever a Met player steals a base successfully.
- Floater (band) from Portland, Oregon performs the song during their live acoustic shows.
- The song was covered by the all girl metal band Kittie and was the second single from their 2001 album Oracle.
- The Minnesota Swarm of Major League Lacrosse play the main guitar riff of the song during player introductions.
- The Weather Channel used an instrumental version of this song in 2006 during the Local Forecasts.
- The song was covered on the Echoes of Pink tribute album.
- It was used as the theme music for Sportscene for most of the 80's.
- Talk radio host Mike Malloy frequently uses an instrumental version as an introduction to his show
- Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia (3rd edition), 2005. ISBN 1-894959-24-8