I Ran (So Far Away)

"I Ran (So Far Away)", also released as "I Ran", is a song by English new wave band A Flock of Seagulls. It was released in 1982 as their third single and it was the second single from their self-titled debut album. It topped the chart in Australia, and reached numbers seven and nine in New Zealand and the United States respectively, although the single did not enjoy similar success in the band's home country (United Kingdom), failing to make the top 40.

In an article for Rolling Stone titled, Anglomania: The Second British Invasion, Parke Puterbaugh wrote of the impact of the song's music video on its US chart success, "Fronted by a singer-synth player with a haircut stranger than anything you'd be likely to encounter in a month of poodle shows, A Flock of Seagulls struck gold on the first try."

Recording and composition

Lead vocalist Mike Score says that there were two main sources of inspiration for "I Ran (So Far Away)". The members of A Flock of Seagulls would regularly visit Eric's Club in Liverpool, where one of the bands had a song called "I Ran". Score noted that because A Flock of Seagulls would rehearse right after returning from Eric's, the song title and chorus may have gotten stuck in his head. Another idea came from a poster at a Zoo Records office. The band had gone there with the intent of securing a recording contract, and they wanted to use the poster, which featured a man and a woman running away from a flying saucer, as the cover for their first album, A Flock of Seagulls (1982). This depiction also helped spark the song's unusual space-like lyrics.

"I Ran (So Far Away)" was recorded at Battery Studios in London with producer Mike Howlett. It is a new wave and synth-pop song, with a run time of five minutes and seven seconds. According to the sheet music, the song moves at a quick tempo of 145 beats per minute. With a chord progression of A-G-A-G in the verses and F-G-A in the choruses, the song is written in the key of A minor. During the song's introduction and musical interludes, short guitar riffs are played, which give the sense of an echo. Guitarist Paul Reynolds had joined the band after the music was already written, so the short guitar riffs were added for Reynolds to play. Lyrically, "I Ran (So Far Away)" is about a man who sees an attractive woman and attempts to run away from his feelings. Before this happens, the man sees an aurora in the sky, and he and the woman are abducted by aliens.

Track listing

;7" Jive VS 102 (US) – 1982;12" Jive T14 (UK) – 1982;CD August Day 40 (UK) – 2018


Three different versions of the song exist:
  • The album version (5:07) features an introduction with swirling synthesizer noises imitating gulls which then segues into a lengthy instrumental passage by the band before leading into the main song. It concludes with a guitar solo and comes to a full ending. This version was featured on some pressings of A Flock of Seagulls and is featured on all CD versions of the album.
  • The video version (3:58) omits most of the introductory section and begins with a cymbal crash but retains the full ending of the long version. This version was featured on some pressings of A Flock of Seagulls.
  • The radio edit (3:43) begins with a cymbal crash and loops the song's final chorus, fading out at the end.

    Single release and legacy

    The single was promoted by a distinctive music video directed by Tony van den Ende in which the band members performed in a room covered in aluminium foil and mirrors. The cameras used to film the video are clearly visible in many of the background reflections, their stands also covered in foil. The video is an homage to Brian Eno and Robert Fripp's (No Pussyfooting) album cover, which was also portrayed by the Strokes in the video for their single, "The End Has No End," two decades later. The video received heavy rotation on MTV in the summer of 1982, and helped the single to become a hit.

    The band toured the United States extensively to promote the single, supporting Squeeze on their 1982 tour. As well as reaching number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, "I Ran" peaked at number 3 on the Top Tracks chart and number 8 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Subsequently, the album reached number 10 on the Billboard 200.

    In the VH1 special 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s, "I Ran" was listed at No. 55 on the countdown, while on the VH1 special 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s, the song was listed at No. 2.

    Although considered a 1980s new wave classic, the song experienced somewhat of a revival in 2002 as the signature theme for the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, being played during the game's television commercials and during gameplay as one of the songs in the playlist for radio station Wave 103.

    Cover versions

    "I Ran (So Far Away)" has been covered by a number of artists:

  • Tori Amos covered the song on her Original Sinsuality/Summer Of Sin Tour in Denver, during Piano Bar Time. Her version was released with the rest of the show in the 3rd CD of The Original Bootlegs.
  • Bowling for Soup covered the song for the 2003 re-release of their album Drunk Enough to Dance and their "Punk Rock 101" single. Both the original and the punk cover are the theme song of the American DiC dubbed version of Saint Seiya, also known as Knights of the Zodiac.
  • Hidden in Plain View recorded the song on the covers compilation album Punk Goes 80's.
  • Darude and Blake Lewis released a cover in 2008.
  • Slim Thug's "I Run", which appears on his 2009 album Boss of All Bosses, interpolates the song.
  • In the 2016 film La La Land, the song is performed by an 80s covers band at the request of Emma Stone's character.

    Charts and certifications

    Weekly charts

    Year-end charts