“Take It On the Run” by REO Speedwagon
(Words/Music: Gary Richrath, Album: Hi Infidelity, Epic Records 1980)
Someone looking to put a positive spin on REO Speedwagon’s career may point out that they were a band who was instrumental in transitioning Album Oriented Rock (AOR) into a more popular, mainstream format, essentially opening up their music to new audiences. If this is true, then their Hi Infidelity album is the epitome of this transition. Having produced moderate rock success with such songs as “Riding the Storm Out” and “Roll With the Changes,” the band decided to follow singer/guitarist Kevin Cronin’s lead and include some slower songs on the album. Cronin, whose background was primarily in folk rock, wanted to make acoustic guitars a more prominent part of the band, and, after the lagging sales of their previous album, he got his way. The result was an album that went to #1 and was eventually certified 10x Platinum in the US thanks mainly to the “soft rock” songs “Take It On the Run” and “Keep On Loving You.” Ironically, it was the hard rocking guitarist Gary Richrath, Cronin’s main adversary, who actually penned “Take It On the Run,” apparently after drinking the Cronin Kool-aid.
If you have read my blog in the past, you may remember that the first two cassettes I owned were Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll and Journey’s Escape. However, it should be added that in between those two, I bought Hi Infidelity for my mother for her birthday, mainly based on her love of “Take It On the Run” which we used to sing together whenever it came on the radio. Of course, I also liked “Keep On Loving You” and subsequent singles “In Your Letter” and “Don’t Let Him Go,” but the present was for my mother. Really. And it was the ultimate show of sacrifice for a ten-year-old who had to forego his weekly purchase of baseball cards for weeks to save up the money. (And I think I might have done some odd jobs for my dad to help earn some extra dough.) Of course, the almost 40-year-old English teacher recognizes the irony that this show of dedication was to buy an album called Hi Infidelity primarily for a song about a woman who is unfaithful. But such is life. This album, and this song, will always hold a special significance for me since every time I hear it I think of my mother.