If there is nothing else the world can agree on, let’s all just decide that songs about running off are some of the best out there. You can find the narrative in any genre, songs that make us want to relive the times we couldn’t keep our impatient feet from tapping while we waited on a car, train, subway, or plane. All the nights when we took a drive going nowhere with people we wanted to go everywhere with.
Mumford and Sons in Sigh No More summed it up in one line; “one foot on sea, one on shore”, and isn’t it true of us? We’re always one foot on the front porch waiting for something, anything to run too, waiting for the smallest reason to leave everything behind, a crack in the window, an uneven picture frame, one wrong tick in the clock and we’re ready to go. It says something about us as a generation, about us knowing that home isn’t the town we were born or where we got a couple graduation hats. Home is a feeling, and the moment we stop feeling it, we’re packed and impatient with our ever-tapping feet to find it somewhere else. It’s why we listen to I am Disappeared by Frank Turner, we get why Amy sleeps with her keys on her bed-stand, and him with his passport, we get what it feels like to be on the brink of running –all it takes is to make the choice. One decision, and a quick shower and they’re ready to go whenever they want to find home again.
We use songs like You Don’t Own Me with G-Eazy to build us up, to validate our reasons; the small town, the crappy job, the romantic devastation, anything that weigh us down vs us – who gets to resist them all. Resist and run – put your hair in a bun, grab your shoes and leave it all behind until the small things that make you feel like listening to old Simple Plan music is far in the rear view.
It’s why songs about road trips and runaways give us such a rush, they make us revel in our youth no matter how old we are, revel in not answering any questions – just getting up and going. And don’t those songs make it sound so easy? They make it sound so possible, just give us all the crap that surrounds you, “pack yourself a toothbrush dear, pack yourself a favorite blouse, take a withdrawal slip, take all of your savings out” (The Lumineers, Sleep on the Floor). That song makes it sound so simple, leave your mother a note and let’s take a drive for as long as we want, to go as far as we want, leave it all behind.
In fact, most of the latest Lumineers album is about a runaway and a full life – Angela, “you left this town, with your windows down, and the wilderness inside”. Doesn’t it sound magical? Even just listening to the song makes you imagine that it’s you in that car, sun on face, wind in hair, just driving away from the small stuff that drives you crazy – the ultimate fantasy of being ‘on the run’. It’s freedom that we want, and it’s freedom that these songs offer, even if it’s the beautifully romanticized notion that you can leave it all behind.
Perhaps that’s why we’re always on the go, moving fast just so we don’t stop long enough to take stock. Don’t think about your crappy job, or that shitty family party you have to go to, don’t think about your awful roommates or the person you thought you’d be by now. Suddenly your train has come and for three and a half minutes those things don’t matter, for three and a half minutes you’re on the road with Angela, or running out the door with Amy and Frank, silence your tapping feet, and take the journey with them – even if it’s just fantasy.
And if the fantasy moves you just right, stop waiting for a ride to come, don’t live in someone else’s nostalgia on the radio, don’t rely on your own nostalgia about people who used to drive you all the way to the beach just to see the Christmas lights, get in your own damn car and go!