Day 204: “Run For Your Life”

When was it recorded?   Oct. 12, 1965

When was it first released, and on which album?   Dec. 3, 1965 on “Rubber Soul”

Who wrote it?   Lennon

Have I heard this song before?   Yes

What my research dug up:

“Run for You Life” has quite the roots.   The inspiration for the lyrics can be traced all the way back to 1951’s “I Want to Play House With You,” written by Cy Coben and recorded by Eddy Arnold.

“I Want to Play House With You” inspired Arthur Gunter to write “Baby, Let’s Play House” three years later. Gunter recorded the original version, but it was soon covered by Elvis Presley and became his first song to hit the Billboard music charts (peaking at #5).

Elvis’s song inspired John by his own admission. However, quoth the Beatles Bible, “Gunter’s song was a fairly straightforward statement of desire. Lennon, meanwhile, took the words and turned them into a menacing threat full of possessiveness and jealousy.

Choice Lennon quotes regarding the song in hindsight:

  • “I never liked ‘Run For Your Life,’ because it was a song I just knocked off.” — John Lennon (Rolling Stone, 1970)
  • “‘Run for Your Life’ I always hated, you know.” – John Lennon (Rolling Stone, 1973)
  • “Just a sort of throwaway song of mine that I never thought much of, but it was always a favorite of George’s.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)

The Beatles recorded “Run For Your Life” Oct. 12, 1965 in the first session for “Rubber Soul.” The first four takes were incomplete; the fifth and final take was used. Overdubs were added, and according to the Beatles Bible, “The session took four and a half hours from start to finish.”

Alan Pollack probably puts it best (as per usual) in his notes on “Run For Your Life.”

“ …we now live in a time where we’ve been sensitized and dismayed by a rising tide of ubiquitous domestic violence to the point where the words of this song seem in plain bad taste. Personally, I can vouch that even way back at the time of its initial release, people thought that the Jealous-Guy-Posturing heard here was at least a tad over-stated, especially for supposedly good clean fun. It’s a shame since musically at least, even if it’s not top-drawer Beatles’ music circa late 1965, it’s not really such a bad song, per se.”




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