The entity of airplanes and starships gets a lot of undeserved flak in the annals of pop rock, The fact of the matter is that they had a 22 year career hitting the Top 40 amid name changes, personnel changes, music changes. Who could have predicted that they would have 3 #1 hits in the late 80’s. (Say what you want about We Built This City, I think Sara is a fine song) Having a career like that means that they had a knack for changing with the times, knowing what their audience wanted and being extremely lucky.
Runaway,their 2nd single from the LP Earth, was their 4th Top hit of the late 70s, a glossy yet mellow shot of AOR pop, that became their stock in trade. So smooth, loping along a George Harrison-esque guitar lick, with a beat for easy nodding. Yes, for those that traded in their tabs for Js, Jefferson Starship had you covered. Man I dug this song as a kid.
But here’s the problem with AM radio. I have always heard the lyrics a certain way that I just recently found out were wrong. I always heard the first line as:
You don’t know how much I miss you
But I love you like a son
Well when coupled with :
I’d like to put my arms around you and run run run runaway
It felt like a guy getting close to someone who needed a father figure. It could be a boy’s uncle away at war. I guess it also be a little creepy, especially if its a stranger talking to some kid.
So when I read that the lines are actually:
You don’t know how much I love you
but I love you like the sun
I’d like to put my arms around you
and we could run run run, runaway
It kinda feels boring to me. I love you like the sun? Who are you, George Hamilton? Then I start to think, what made me hear it that way? What was going on in my life at that time? Was I looking for a different dad or one that would ‘love me like a son.’? Then again I always thought Marty was ‘sittin munchin on a flower’ rather than just watchin all the flowers. Still do. Can’t hear it any other way. The song was written by someone named N. Q. Dewey. I can’t find anything else written or recorded by this guy and he doesn’t get special thanks on Earth’s liner notes, so I wonder if this a pseudonym.
By the time Marty repeats the first verse with that ache in his voice, I realize that I want to be this guy’s kid and runaway wherever. Maybe I’ll change my name to Jefferson…