The Runnin’ Man

Lindisfarne was one of many British bands whose sound and success didn’t translate well across the pond. They released a string of albums that were major hits in the UK, including the Number One Fog on the Tyne in 1971. It wasn’t until 1978 that they got noticed in the States. “Run for Home,” from the album Back and Fourth, reached Number 33 in Billboard on December 9 of that year. By then, Lindisfarne had already broken up and reformed once; they would do so again in the early 80s. Various versions of the group would continue to surface in the UK even after the death of original lead vocalist Alan Hull in 1995, well into the new millennium.

“Run for Home” is about the rigors of touring—“I’ve traveled the land with a guitar in my hand/And a mind ever open for some fun”—at which I have sneered in the past. (If being a rock star is such a drag, get another job. There’s a McDonalds on every corner.) But there’s a wistfulness about “Run for Home” that makes it more universal than the usual Fogelbergian/Journeyesque whining. We’ve all had the experience of being away and enjoying it, seeing the sights and partaking in the pleasures—but sooner or later, we know we need to get back. It’s not merely because we miss our sweethearts, although we may; it’s not merely because we’re so-o-o-o tired of all that adulation and applause. It’s because where we’re from is a critical part of who we are.

When I used to blog about politics, my now-defunct political blog would occasionally show up on lists of Wisconsin blogs. This blog never does, although there’s more of Wisconsin in this blog than there ever was on my political blog. I am a creature—a creation—of this place. When I lived elsewhere, I’d feel the pull of it every fall. Now that I’m back here, the pull is no longer geographical; it’s temporal. The “home” I’m drawn to in October is made up of the many Octobers I’ve lived through before, many in this place. That’s what “Run for Home” is calling me back to, and that’s why it sounds like October to me.

Parenthetical observation: “Run for Home” contains a verse that is an all-time favorite of mine, despite the fact that it’s gibberish:

I’ve travelled the land
Made mistakes out of hand
Seen the faces in the places misunderstand
Yes I’ve travelled the world
Seen those pretty boys and girls
Heard the noise that destroys and commands

I have no idea what “the noise that destroys and commands” is, but damn, it sounds great.

“Run for Home”/Lindisfarne (buy it here)

One thought on “The Runnin’ Man

  1. Hadn’t heard this one in a while, thanks for mentioning it; the lyrics are indeed like gibberish, but there’s an earnestness to the vocals that make it all worthwhile. It does sound like late summer/October a bit.

    My October tune is ‘Hold On’ by Ian Gomm, from a year later… gets me every time.

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