Proof that a good song and good idea are timeless – even under a crush of modern-day AutoTune recording techniques – Soul Asylum’s 1993 megahit “Runaway Train” has been re-recorded by a trio of younger pop stars to spark a new campaign for finding missing youths. The noble effort mimics the successful m.o. of the original song’s video.
British singer Jamie N Commons, native Wisconsinite and Eminem protege Skylar Grey and D.C. area “Doesn’t Matter” singer Gallant took turns singing the verses and choruses in the remake of the Minneapolis band's song, which was recorded in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They also all appear in a new music video that features the same kind of imagery of runaway or homeless children seen in Soul Asylum’s original MTV hit.
Just like before, photos and the names of real-life missing kids flash across the screen in the new video, which can be seen at runawaytrain25.com (so named to mark the 25th anniversary of the video). The approach proved surprisingly effective when Soul Asylum did it: Twenty-one of the 36 kids in the original Tony Kaye-directed video were found with help from the clip, one of MTV’s top 5 most-played videos that year while the single peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Endorsing the new song and video in an interview with Billboard, Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner said of the original, “It just was a direction that was very pleasing to me, because the rock videos were just getting more and more shallow, if you will. So I wanted to do something that had impact in the real world, and it did.”
“Runaway Train” was already in the news once this year, after Blake Shelton was caught lying about his love for Soul Asylum following a contestant’s performance of the song on NBC’s “The Voice.” Maybe Shelton can make it out to one of the many summer gigs on the books for Pirner and his remade band, which includes a hometown date with fellow ex-punkers Rascal Flatts and REO Speedwagon at the Twin Cities Summer Jam on July 18.