I take a second of the day
To think about the things that we have done this year
The dark lies down the pouring rain
I'm underneath the smoker's railway arch again.

The future's looking colorful
It's the color of blood, chaos and corruption of a happy soul,
A happy soul
We'll ride in the field
Ride in the field
Ride in the field
Until the rain dies down.

The railway ticket states the destination
But it doesn't mean that we will show
There's a fork along the line
We'll pay the guard to switch the signs
Off we go.

The future's looking wonderful
It's the wonder of the businessman's conspiracy to sell you wares
No one cares
Oh, you care, I know
You care, I know
You care, I know
I forgot for a while

On a sulky afternoon spent in dispute
You'll give yourself a headache, boy
So I spent the day in stories
And in dreaming of the time when we're on stage.

Have you seen the loneliness of a middle distance runner
As he stops the race and looks around?
I've left the stage, you've seen it it now.

I walk to the station
Walk to the station
Walk to the station
Won't you follow me down?

Walk to the station
Walk to the station
Walk to the station
Won't you follow me down?


Lyrics submitted by fratboy_rick, edited by alice144

The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentHaving slept on this I think I kind of missed the point in the post above. The song really relates a lot more closely to the book/ film Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, with Stuart/ the band in the role of the protaginist - the non-conformist who is content to suffer for the sake of his own freedom, and finds exhileration in cross country running, but will only do it on his own terms.

    The railway ticket states the destination
    But it doesn't mean that we will show

    The band have jumped on the indie rock train, but it doesn't mean they will follow the conventional route.

    The future's looking colourful

    In comparison to the grainy black and white of British New Wave cinema

    A happy soul will ride in the fields

    The joy of cross country running

    Dreaming of the time when we're on stage

    This conjures up ABBAs Glasgow referencing anthem Super Trouper, which also examines the onstage offstage machinations of band life.

    Have you seen the loneliness of a middle distance runner
    As he stops the race and looks around?
    I like the stage
    I've seen it now

    Spoiler alert, but you have to watch the film/ read the book to get this. The band are happy to be in the race, but on their own terms...

    Its a stretch but I still think the closing line might be a Dylan ref... considering the bands media stance 'like Dylan in the Movies'... Don't Look Back also being an excellent film and ahead of its time, in its observation of the media...
    mookundion January 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI wish they'd record this song once and for all.

    When I think of this song, I think of how I feel right now-- ready to graduate in two months, looking back at the past, looking at my future alone, and wanting someone in particular to be there with me in that future. Let's just get on a train, go anywhere, as long as we're together, as long as I won't feel this lonely anymore.
    modernrocksongon March 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is a real grower...

    I like the imagery of rainy fields and railway stations, which places the listener into the landscape of kitchen sink drama (the genre which spawned 'The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner')

    When this came out, I always associated the verse about a 'sulky afternoon spent in dispute' with the vitriolic cover article in the NME by the late 'angry young man' Steven Wells, which sort of marked the end of B+S period of not engaging with the media. A strange article where B+S were attacked for somehow betraying 'rock n roll' I somehow doubt there is any connection, could just as well allude to Stuart Murdoch or anyone else's wasted afternoon debating things in their own head.

    I would also read this as a reflection on the daily life of a musician... spending so much time in solitude, preparing for those short times when you're 'on stage'. Also the juncture that B+S had reached, following an apparantley tumultous period, 'it doesn't mean that we will show'; the song seems to reflect the adventure of being a successful band, the uncertainty of its future, and its engagement with the commercial world, 'businessman's conspiracy to sell you wares' Less obvious now, but at the time B+S seemed to embrace a DIY ethic and shun the business side of music business. I thought the line was 'I left the stage, I've seen it now'.

    Also, always thought the closing line was 'Won't you follow me down?' as in the Dylan song.

    It seems obvious but I will add that this song is surely also inspired by Stuart's love of cross country running.
    mookundion January 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat do you mean you wish they'd record this song once and for all? it was released in 2001 on an EP with jonathan david. Its a great song!
    planet_queenon June 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHow does B&S manage to write such brilliant songs on running (stars of track and feild, middle distance runner). As a runner of middle distance and having my kinda being grossly looked over, i appreciate this song very much. Given, its not really about a runner, sometimes i wonder what it is about, i think about it while im running...
    lakremadudeon January 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI used to be a middle distance runner. And it was kinda lonely. I wish I'd had an iPod back then so I could've listened to this song whilst running. This song doesn't really have a concrete meaning to me, not one that I can figure out anyway...It just seems really wistfull. As though they're sort of discontent with how everything is going and would like to just escape it all on a train. I think pretty much everyone has felt like that at some point...
    SylvieRoseon March 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe title is a reference to the story "The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner," by Alan Sillitoe.

    I always thought that the lyrics might have been about Sebastian Coe, a very famous middle distance runner who from England who, before the 1984 Moscow Olympics, came under enormous scrutiny as to whether he would boycott the Olympics to protest Russia's invasion of Afghanistan, or compete. No matter which he chose, he was bound to infuriate one half of England or the other. That kind of situation can be pretty lonely.
    tesformeson June 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think its about how the future seems planned. When you stop to look around you see that you can change it. However, the path you are on is the "runners" path. We're all runners(players) competing on the stage of life. If you stop running and start contemplating different paths you fall behind and get lonely. The rat race passes you by.
    Ramalamaon February 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn response to how do B&S write such good songs on running etc. Stuart himself was a runner believing it in his teenage years to be his best talent. Writing from experience therefore I assume would make it easier.
    xgaryspencerxon June 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThis song just means how some people, like the guy in this song, can't sustain a relationship until the very end. Some people can't stay with someone else long enough to get married or when they ARE married, they don't have enough willpower to stay until the end (til DEATH do us part).
    He want's her (his girlfriend) to meet him at his breaking point (midway), the point where he wants to stop loving her and get out of the relationship, and make him change his mind and continue the relationship to the very end so that he won't be a repeat offender of this situation and ultimately be lonely. Because people are meant to finish long distance races and if you don't, well then you're all alone while everyone else is passing you by. You're not a winner but a.... loser.
    Beautiful song because there are too people like this and if only they were helped or encouraged along the way somehow, we'd have more long distance runners who finish.
    Carena722on November 26, 2010   Link

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