Song Of The Day: Soul Asylum, “Runaway Train”

One can never really know how a song will be accepted once it is released to the public. Case in point: Minneapolis band Soul Asylum had been knocking around the music industry for a decade, and were most likely coming to the end of a somewhat unproductive major-label tenure that produced two solid but commercially unsuccessful albums, resulting in the band being dropped from A&M. ¬†yet the critical acclaim of those two albums garnered the band a very tentative record deal with Columbia, resulting in the 1992 album, Grave Dancers Union, which seemed poised to continue the band’s trend of disappointingly underperforming major label albums. Yet no one could’ve expected the massive success of the album’s third single “Runaway Train,” a song dealing with depression that morphed into an anthem dealing with teenage runaways, thanks to an iconic video featuring missing children. “Runaway Train” turned the somewhat disappointing album’s sales into a multi platinum success, which found the band winning a Grammy award for a song that morphed into something that had very little to do was what it originally meant to be. A recent Record Store Day double album release containing a live show from 1992 offers up the song from the time before it became an overly serious, melodramatic anthem. The performance is loose but sincere, and at the end vocalist Dave Pirner offers some rather choice and profane words about the matter. It’s a highlight of an excellent set from a band whose world was about to radically change.

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