What does Running on Empty mean?

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Jackson Browne: Running on Empty Meaning

Song Released: 1978

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Running on Empty Lyrics

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Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In '65 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...


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    Jul 1st, 2017 7:24pm report

    To me this represents the struggle for meaning in life when there appears no logic to life at all.


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    Aug 28th, 2016 8:03am report

    When I first heard the song, I was in my mid 20ies back in the 70ies. I loved the song when I first heard it. I now that I am in my 60ies. I still love the song. It relates to the way I feel and felt about my life. Thank You Jackson Browne and I hope to meet you someday before I die.


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    Dec 14th, 2015 12:10am report

    Cocaine era!


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    Jun 20th, 2014 6:13am report

    Running on empty..a metaphor simply expressed by a youth reaching adulthood, as also applied to the whole United states.
    A country torn by the Vietnam War,
    Lacking in goals
    Distrust of government
    impending gas crisis (not sure about timing)
    failing vigor & energy &
    Falling toward the fringes of moral bankruptcy.
    (with or without Nixon, Watergate, the tapes, people like Spiro Agnew) .

    It is a short allegory, comparable in some ways to:
    Don Mcclean's American Pie, which would date the beginning of the death of the American spirit with the death of Buddy Holly, & more positive music, as narrarated by mcclean as a boy coming of age way too quickly.


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    Feb 21st, 2013 2:59pm report

    Interpretations are plausible however what event sparked the Running on Empty phrase? When Jackson Browne was putting together this album he did not have a job and it seemed every day when he drove to the studio his car's gas tank was on empty.


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    Dec 23rd, 2011 12:46pm report

    One of the best song I have ever heard of! The main phrases "Running on empty," and "running behind" depicts human's incomplete goal, hope against hope and life's imperfection.
    In 1965, the speaker was only 19. He was young and strong, but within a blink of an eye, time flew away, he became 21,and he eventually was left behind his destination. Even if he tried, he never seemed to get by. This song apply to everyone..especially, the failure one.
    Time is passing by and we are just living on memories and regret.
    The sweetest songs are those that tell of the saddest thoughts.
    I'm a refugee from Burma. Every time I listen this song there are tears drop in my eyes.


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    Oct 17th, 2011 10:42pm report

    The idea here is that by constantly being on the move, one can stay ahead and keep "one's love" or passion for existence alive.

    If one stops, one will stagnant and fall over. Thus, 'Running on Empty' is the constant on-the-go, which never leads anywhere except for greater exhaustion and exasperation.

    It's a paradox about finding one's place in a world where that's not really an option for everyone.

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