Ten Classic Hits About Criminals On the Run


The revival of vinyl has not only allowed me to enjoy hearing some modern bands on record, but it has also given me the chance to revisit some of the albums I had not heard in several decades. Some of these I had overlooked in my youth, only to now find the appealing in middle age.

One example is a release by Gary Wright, who reached as high as number two on the singles chart back in the mid seventies. The album is Dream Weaver, which spawned singles like “Love Is Alive” and the title track.

While I had heard those two tracks occasionally on the local oldies station, several other tunes struck me when I spun it on the record player recently. I was particularly impressed by a song called “Can’t Find the Judge.”

The song, a bluesy endeavor unlike most of the synthesized based album, is unusual in its context. It is the pleading of a man to find the judge who sent his woman to prison.

Apparently she had committed a violent crime somehow in defense of the man singing the song. Before the time of that song, and really even since, the man has been the one who commits a violent crime.

Songs about men committing crimes are too many to list, so I began to consider those by guys who commit crimes but have not yet been caught. Here is a list of ten such tunes about men on the run from the law.

“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor

The sirens and the police bullhorn at the fade out lets everyone know that the fugitive is finally caught after having committed a crime to somehow defend his lover.

“Renegade” by Styx

It did not take guitarist Tommy Shaw long to carve his niche in the band, scoring this Pieces of Eight mega-hit on just his second LP with them.

“Don’t Take Me Alive” by Steely Dan

The wanted man here, a bookkeeper’s son armed with a case of dynamite, is surrounded in this track from The Royal Scam.

“Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi or Warren Zevon

Bon Jovi charted much better with this title, but Zevon’s acoustic track fits perfectly on his solid but poorly-promoted Wanted Dead or Alive album.

“Gimme Some Water” by Eddie Money

The fugitive in this tune shut a man on the Mexican border, a crime for which he is hanged when finally caught at the end.

“Bad Man’s Blunder” by the Kingston Trio

The folk trio somehow managed to make a light-hearted song out of a tale about a man shooting a deputy just for the fun of it.

“John Wesley Harding” by Bob Dylan

This title track about a Robin Hood of the Old West helps set the tone for the entire folksy album that followed up Blonde on Blonde.

“Pretty Boy Floyd” by Woody Guthrie

Likely, Dylan got the idea for his tune after this tale from his idol, who sang about another bandit who stole from the rich to give to the poor.

“Take the Money and Run” by the Steve Miller Band

This here story about Billie Joe and Bobbi Sue narrates how the couple go on the run after he shot a man while robbing his castle.

“I Shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley or Eric Clapton

The reggae legend penned this classic, but it was Slow Hand who turned it into a Top Ten single.

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Doug Poe


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