Certain Songs #938: Liz Phair – “Fuck and Run”

Album: Exile in Guyville
Year: 1993

Of course, part of the thing surrounding Exile in Guyville was Liz Phair’s utterly fearless openness about her sexuality. It wasn’t unprecedented, of course — Chrissie Hynde, among others wrote with the same fearlessness — but her explicitness did feel fresh.

And so you had a song like “Fuck and Run,” which not only had an explicit title — “fuck” is right there in the title, as a-verb-not-an-adjective — but was right there with Liz the morning after a one-night stand.

I woke up alarmed
I didn’t know where I was at first
Just that I woke up in your arms
And almost immediately I felt sorry
‘Cause I didn’t think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn’t think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions

And that’s the thing about the explicitness of a song like “Fuck and Run”: it’s not about using the world “fuck” as a song title, it’s more about how real and true the scenario feels. It’s the emotional explicitness. She was lonely and horny, and so she went out and got laid. And almost instantly regretted it.

And whatever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who tries to win you over?
And whatever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who makes love ’cause he’s in it?

Because what she really wanted was a relationship, even though she also knew how corny that sounded. You can hear the ambivalence in her voice.

And I want a boyfriend
I want a boyfriend
I want all that stupid old shit like letters and sodas
Letters and sodas

It was a conundrum: she wanted connection and companionship and sex, but she also derided it on some level. So she ended up repeating the same old patterns.

I can feel it in my bones
I’m gonna spend another year alone
It’s fuck and run, fuck and run
Even when I was seventeen
Fuck and run, fuck and run
Even when I was twelve

The music reflects this: “Fuck and Run” is perhaps the most musically simple song on the whole record — the guitars just chug along underneath her, and the drums almost never vary from the beat — as if any kind of complexity would distract from the story she was telling, the confession she was making.

But then again, the question is, who is doing the running? Is it Liz, is it the boys she’s with, or — most likely — is it both? She might want a boyfriend, but she’s not necessarily just going to settle for one. But still, when she wants even temporary connection and companionship and sex, so she goes out and gets it. I think that, if you look at it from this standpoint — she’s empowering herself to play the field — “Fuck and Run” gets even deeper.

“Fuck and Run”

“Fuck and Run” performed live

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