Runaway by Jefferson Starship (Grunt, 1978)


The entity of airplanes and starships gets a lot of undeserved flack in the annals of pop-rock. The fact of the matter is they had a 22-year career hitting the Top 40 amid name changes, personnel changes, and music changes. Who could have predicted that they would have 3 #1 hits in the late ’80s? (Say what you want about We Built This City, I think Sara is a beautiful song) Having a career like that means that they must have had a knack for understanding and embracing the ever-evolving pop landscape, knowing what their audience wanted and, of course, being extremely lucky.

Runaway, their 2nd single from the LP Earth, was their 4th Top 40 hit of the late 70s, a glossy yet mellow shot of AOR pop, that became their stock in trade – smoothly loping along with 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/remembered the lyrics a certain way, and I just recently found out I was 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 whose dad is away at war. I guess it also is a little creepy, especially if its a stranger talking to some kid.

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

That doesn’t seem as interesting to me. I love you like the sun? Who are you, George Hamilton? I started wondering 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 said he was ‘sittin’, munchin on a flower‘ rather than just watchin all the flowers. Still do. I can’t hear it any other way. So what do I know?

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. Maybe it was the zodiac killer. JS was from San Fran…

Any time this comes on the radio, I crank it up, praying for the extended album version. And 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…

Leave a comment


  1. I really enjoy your blog; it is funny when we discover the real lyrics and we prefer our misheard version.

  2. jhunter66

     /  July 16, 2014

    I misheard this song the same way. Pushing 50, I share your love of 70’s pop. JS is my favorite of the band’s three incarnations, and Runaway is one of my most-loved songs of the decade.

  3. I agree with you about “Starship.” I always liked “We Built This City.” Thanks for the post.

  4. I enjoy all the Jefferson Airplane incarnations: Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship, and Jefferson (“Baby Take Me In Your Arms”–just kidding about that being
    another incarnation, that was a solo singer in late 1960s–still enjoy that.)

    I totally mishearded it the same way.

    BTW What happened to Aidann….did he go the way of another 70s music blogger Chris Stufflestreet back in Sept.’12 and die?

    • You mean Grace with,” I’d like to put my arms around you, oh I love you like a song- so lost Runaway…?” What 1960’s credible song? You mean 1968, Grace Slick w Rare Earth, Todd Rungren or where? Airplane I think was a Woodstock Concept for Grace, Sharon Tate was probably to get mailed? By, the way does anyone have her address!
      1967, too? January 1 as by 2014-

  5. My favorite Jefferson Starship tune that I had forgotten about. I love the long play version of Miracles too but after hearing this after so many years I am inspired to take up the rhythm guitar. Kudos to Paul Kanter.☺

  6. This is my new favorite Jefferson Starship song. I have not heard this song in years. Miracles, the EP version, was my favourite but after hearing this I am inspired to take up the rhythm guitar. Kudos to Paul Kanter! ☺ 👍

  7. I also like the bass guitar in this song. Kudos also to Pete Sears.

  8. Jeff Findle

     /  September 4, 2015

    Does anybody know where I can find a guitar tab for the SOLO for Runaway by Jefferson Starship?
    I can find chords / tabs / everything for this song – everything EXCEPT the SOLO!

  9. Heard this song recently and I could swear I remember hearing a different version back in the day. Like ann R&B group covered it, but I found no evidence of this. I know they edited the single, I wonder if they remixed it.

    Just saw the 2015 J. Starship perform in Santa Monica. I was worried they would only play hit singles & 80’s commercial “Built This City” songs. Boy was I ever wrong. With only 1 original member, it was one of the best rock shows I’ve seen in a while. Really funky, hard grooving rock. Shocked to learn it was not Grace Slick, but Cathy Richardson’s phenomenal voice, a cross between Slick, Balin and Mickey Thomas.

  10. SteveCarras

     /  October 9, 2015

    I mean a singer named Jefferson, a guy, who sang Baby Take me in your arms… The singer and song sound a certain deal like Gary Puckett and the Union Gap..:) December 1969..

    Again,what happened to Adrian..dead like Chris Stufflestreet who managed another music blog?

  11. Tammy

     /  November 5, 2015

    I found Nicholas Q Dewey on Etsy, and he’s apparently a real person, former songwriter and now does metal work.

  12. Jeff Findle

     /  November 11, 2015

    Does anybody know where I can find a guitar tab for the SOLO for Runaway by Jefferson Starship?
    I can find chords / tabs / everything for this song – everything EXCEPT the SOLO!

  13. Clive

     /  January 28, 2016

    RIP Paul!

  14. Lautius

     /  March 4, 2016

    Listen to Magnolia by J.J. Cale. It was released in 1971. Runaway (which I love, btw) is either a straight-up ripoff of Magnolia, or J.J. Cale IS N.Q. Dewey


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