More than any other track on ‘The Wall’, Run Like Hell was edited to reduce running time. Fortunately, a true extended version was released, but it’s very hard to find.
“Run Like Hell” (4:24) was the second single from Pink Floyd The Wall and has been released in several forms. A long version of “Run Like Hell” (4:59) with an extra 35 seconds was released on a promo-only album to DJs and radio stations. Hear a longer, restored version of “Run Like Hell” below.
Like “Comfortably Numb”, it was finessed by co-producer Bob Ezrin who combined Roger Waters’ lyrics with an unused David Gilmour instrumental demo from his first solo album. The track first appears on Waters’ original Wall demo, albeit very different both musically and lyrically. A short, 51-second excerpt of Waters’ original demo version appears on The Wall – Work In Progress. Although the lyrics are similarly dark to the release version, they’re offset by music in a bouncier, happier key. The dark overtones are upfront and present — even some of the lyrics survived the evolution of the track. For instance, the lyric “Make your face up with your favorite disguise…” made it to the final release. Musically, the original demo version lacked the sense of danger, urgency, and paranoia that the final version does.
The music — mainly the guitar theme after “You better run.” and the opening guitar notes — began as another unfinished concept from David Gilmour’s first solo album. A solo version of the same guitar theme opens the track “Short and Sweet” on that album. For The Wall, it evolved throughout production from a fairly straightforward disco tune to something more darker, driving and ominous.
The live version of the track features a bit of banter before the track. It’s Roger Waters as fascist-Pink during a mid-performance hallucination in which he delusionally views himself as a dictator-type rock star and not-very-sincerely tries to incite the audience. Another bit of audience banter appears before “Young Lust” earlier in the show. These bits of banter and more were intended to be part of The Wall proper as part of the story to help illustrate Pink’s isolation, paranoia, and overall retreat into his own dark world behind the wall. This was nixed as co-producer Bob Ezrin and Waters felt the device would feel used up after the first listen.
The track begins with several dampened guitar string scratches using a lot of delay. Behind these flourishes, a crowd in the background chants repeatedly “Pink… Floyd… Pink… Floyd…” before the guitar opens the track proper with an ostinato. As the song ends, listen carefully to the stereo soundstage. The crowd is now split, with the left side chanting “Pink… Floyd… Pink… Floyd…” while the other side chants “Hammers… Hammers…” can be heard filling the background. By the time “Waiting For The Worms” starts, the entire crowd is chanting “Hammers… Hammers…” from both sides of the stereo image.
Bits of the guitar intro were cut from the final album version. In a late version of the production demos, extra guitar string scratches are included in the intro — almost like Gilmour is teasing the listener. All live versions include a longer version of these scratches as well as several additional guitar licks before the song really kicks in — with some performances adding an additional two minutes or more. They add a bit of menace to the track. Most of this flair was cut from the album version.
To me, Gilmour’s guitar theme is iconic enough to act as an instrumental chorus. Its phrasing throughout the song feels like it should repeat and that 8 bars were cut each time throughout, an assumption confirmed by the fact that both the instrumental demo version on the Under Construction ROIO and the live version have the longer, 16 bar refrain and a longer 8 bar bridge preceding it.
“Run Like Hell” is one of my favorite tracks on The Wall. The bouncy disco beat belies the dark undertones of the E minor key. The music only hints at how dark the lyrics really are.
Musically, the album version always sounded edited to me — like a hacked-up radio edit. Much of the musical phrasing sounded off or unfinished. There was a lot of 8-bar phrasing instead of the expected 16. To my ear, it’s never sounded complete.
An edited single version was released which featured a clean intro and outro — without crowd noises. The outro guitar “chorus” is extended and repeats twice for the full 16 bars. The cover of the U.S. sleeve features the A and B side titles in Gerald Scarfe’s handwritten script over a plain wall background. The European version is different and features the hammer emblem that the song has become known for.
An extended studio version was released radio-only on the Pink Floyd Off The Wall — Special Radio Construction EP and features a clean intro and outro without the live crowd sound effects. It has the full extended 8-bar intro with extra guitar flourishes and the full, extended outro guitar refrain which repeats twice for the full 16 bars.
To illustrate how high the tensions were between Roger Waters and Richard Wright, “Run Like Hell” contains the only keyboard solo by Wright on The Wall studio album. Even then, it’s not until Side 4.
What Got Cut
Where do I begin? More than any other track on The Wall, “Run Like Hell” was pretty hacked up and edited to reduce its running time.
- Several dampened guitar string scratches at the beginning of the track, both on their own and over the solo rhythmic guitar intro. This can be heard on “Run Like Hell (instrumental)” (4:59) on the Under Construction ROIO.
- 4 beats at the end of the rhythmic guitar intro that act like a pickup into the main intro of the track. This can be heard on “Run Like Hell (instrumental)” (4:59) on the Under Construction ROIO.
- 4 bars from the first rhythmic guitar section which precedes the main guitar theme of the song. Pink Floyd Off The Wall – Special Radio Construction contains the full extended 8 bar section with some extra guitar flourishes.
- The lyrics “… like hell” after each verse was dropped from the recording. The lyrics still appear in the sleeve and liner notes. To my knowledge, these have never been added back or performed live. They still appear in the lyrics in the liner notes.
- 2 bars were cut from the rhythmic guitar section just after the first “You better run….” It’s at about the 01:50 mark on the album version. These extra 8 beats can be heard on the live version from Is there Anybody Out There? and any of the versions of the Under Construction ROIO.
- A repeat of the guitar theme after each verse. This is performed in the live version on Is There Anybody Out There?.
- 16-24 bars of the full outro guitar theme. Although not really cut per se, the album version only has 16 bars of this phrase, which to me, feels short and cut off. The longer (4:59) version on Off The Wall: Special Radio Construction has a longer version of the outro guitar theme that repeats twice for the full 16 bars and sounds properly phrased. The outro of the live versions are even longer, repeating the entire guitar 32 bar theme before ending on the final 16 bar phrase.
For my mix of The Wall Complete, I edited together the intro from the Under Construction ROIO to a combination of parts of the album version and the extended parts of the Off The Wall EP version. Although the extended-extended outro is performed live for Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour shows, I chose to stick with the 16-bar extended outro of the EP.
Here is my restored version. It clocks in at 5min 27sec adding back over a minute to the track:
Pink Floyd Off The Wall – Special Radio Construction (1979). A rare 1979 US 8-track, radio-friendly promo sampler LP for The Wall album distributed mainly to radio stations. This extended album version of “Run Like Hell” (4:59) has a clean opening and cold fade without crowd sound effects. It contains the complete, extended 8 bar intro with additional guitar flourishes and the full, extended outro guitar theme which repeats twice for the full 16 bars. Also, because of the EP’s shorter runtime, the grooves in the vinyl are cut a little wider and deeper making this an excellent sounding record. This hard-to-find vinyl is one of the more sought after Pink Floyd rarities.
Is There Anybody Out There?. The official live album of the original The Wall tour in 1980. Live versions of all songs. Many of them are extended or have some of the bits which were cut from the original studio LP. The live version (7:05) includes Roger Waters’ dialog cut from the album, additional guitar scratches, and the longer intro. The guitar chorus is the full, repeated 16 bar chorus throughout. The outro of the live version repeats the entire guitar 32-bar “chorus” before ending on the final 16-bar phrase. Structure-wise, this is the most complete version of the song released.
“Run Like Hell/Don’t Leave Me Now” 7″ single (1980). (3:41) Edited for 7″ single release and to be a radio-friendly length. Features a clean intro and outro — no crowd noises. The first guitar theme is cut to 8 bars and doesn’t repeat. The extended instrumental section after Rick wright’s solo containing sound effects of laughter, yelling voices, running and a car skidding has been cut. Contains the full, extended outro guitar theme which repeats twice for the full 16 bars.
Pink Floyd The Wall movie (1982). (~2:29) What was cut? A lot. For the film, it was edited and shortened heavily. Butchered, really. A lot of sound effects added over the top of the music. Several musical phrases edited and combined on top of each other. Wikipedia is much nicer about the edits than I would have been:
“The movie version of the song is considerably shorter than the album version, though this is likely done for the sake of pacing. The second guitar refrain between the first and second verses was taken out, with the verse’s last line, “You better run”, leading directly to Gilmour’s harmonized chant (“Run, run, run, run”), which now echoed back and forth between the left and right channels. Also, Richard Wright’s synth solo was superimposed over the second verse, and the long instrumental break between the end of the synth solo and Waters’ scream was removed.”
Last updated: February 25, 2017