Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty five I was seventeen and running up 101
I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don't know when that road turned, into the road I'm on

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don't know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that'll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I'd love to stick around but I'm running behind
You know I don't even know what I'm hoping to find
Running into the sun but I'm running behind

Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by LogansRun

Running On Empty song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +4
    General CommentThis is from the perspective of an entertainer, a rock star. Starting early in life with no plan and only a dream, he's followed that dream and now he's not so sure that there'll be anything left for him when it ends.

    When he says, "If it takes all night, that'll be all right/If I can get you to smile before I leave," he's speaking to his audience. He still loves the life on the road, in fact he calls the road his own, he just doesn't have any control or foreknowlege of where it's all heading.

    He's getting older, remembering all the relationships that could've been, and he's realizing the futility of chasing a dream of youth("running into the sun","running blind") when everyone around him seems to be moving past that ("running behind").

    Very touching, sung with lots of emotion, definitely a song that was written by Jackson Browne for Jackson Browne, and as such its honesty and intensity shines through.
    ballzofsnoon April 26, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI like this song as well...I remember first hearing it when I saw Forrest Gump. He was so stunned by Jenny's leaving him that he ran on and on. Eventually, he literally stopped running after three years. I get the symbolism now, I wish I knew that back when I saw it.
    OpinionHeadon February 04, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdamn that first analysis is pretty good.

    but definitely one of those songs that you can listen to when you're not feeling great. the song rocks right there on the edge of inspiring.
    turdferguesonon February 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSometime I feel like I am running on empty and not sure of where I'm going but just knowing I need to keep going. However, you can only run on empty for so long before you completely run out of gas!
    sylvsteron April 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat song from a great artist.
    Thia007on November 16, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLyric correction:

    "In '65 I was seventeen and running up 101"

    He is most certainly talking about driving up US Highway 101 on the west coast.
    Rumpelstiltskinon February 09, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI was listening to this song and thinking about my Uncle when he was sick from heart disease 'Running on empty' He did amazing to stay alive as long as he did and it was for his wife and family 'do what you can to keep your love alive' etc. All the words seem to remind me of him. Then I recently thought of his birth year 1948, pretty much like the song 65 i was 17. So this song has a deeper meaning for me!!
    ltkcon February 03, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat comments! You are dead on- this song is a classic.
    BoyBlueon June 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGood job, thats right on
    MGDon June 06, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen I'm stressed out, this song always comes to my mind.
    Like a car with an empty gas tank, barely making it.
    Dianaxon November 09, 2004   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top