Turd on the Run
Original Artist: The Rolling Stones
Original Album: Exile on Main St (1972)
Historian: Martin Acaster
When love is lost, whether that love is for a person, place, or thing, the loser often finds themselves holding the fugitive object of their desire in contempt. Gone are the initial lust, physical attraction, power struggles, and unconditional acceptance. The contemptible fugitive has in effect become a "Turd On the Run" in the eyes of the scorned. While the lyrics (diamond rings, vaseline, and disease) of this Rolling Stones song taken at face value evoke images of scorn for a particular lost lover, considering the state of the band's legal affairs at the time it was composed, they could also be seen as self-indictment. The Stones while in self-imposed tax evasion exile, were ostensibly the shabbily dressed and unseemly turds of which the song speaks. Perhaps they just missed home but had no easy way to return. Digging deeper still, "Turd On the Run" could also be a thinly veiled jab at the not so fair maidens they had made sweat, scream, and wish they had never been as the band swash-buckled through one dark and shark-infested ballroom after another. Though the object of the song's affection may go unidentified, the contempt is unmistakable.
Musically, "Turd On the Run" is a high-speed, piano-driven, country-tonk rocker, with a swampy harmonica accent. The velocity of the song may in fact be so great that the Stones have yet to attempt to perform it live. In order to accomplish the feat during their 10/31/09 halloween performance of Exile on Main St, Phish appears to have backed the tempo down slightly. Where the Stones album version clocks in with a blistering 2:36 pace, Phish extended the song to over four minutes long, with only minor variation from the original (horns replaced the harmonica).
Although, Phish performing a song the Stones themselves would not attempt is certainly commendable, they were by no means the first band to achieve this feat. "Turd On the Run" made frequent appearances during live performances by Pussy Galore, the Jon Spencer (of subsequent Blues Explosion and Boss Hogg fame) fronted DC punk band. In fact, Pussy Galore's third cassette, released in 1986, was a complete reinterpretation of Exile on Main St, recorded in just three days (August 24 - 26, 1986) on the "Pussy Galore Mobile Studio" (a borrowed 4-track), in their New York City practice space. This homage to the Stones' classic was a gag response to Sonic Youth's oft-stated intent to re-record the Beatles White Album, coincidentally the first musical costume Phish assumed in 1994. While only 550 copies of Pussy Galore's cassette of Exile were released, their version of "Turd On the Run" was included on their easier to find 1992 compilation CD Corpse Love: The First Year. Track it down if you desire to revel in its nasty punk rock hate fuck goriness.