Ready to Run Lyric Interpretation (2022)

I think a lot of people hear a coming out song when they hear“Ready to Run”. I do too. I also feel like each boy’s solo is an expression of their own position and views in the story.

This lyrics interpretation is a little different because I go with those ideas from the start rather than trying to feel the story out and keep some options open. In any case, there’s nothing in the lyrics to derail people’s view of it as a coming out song and plenty to support it.

Under the cut and away we go~

There’s a lightning in your eyes I can’t deny

Then there’s me inside a sinking boat running out of time

Without you I’ll never make it out alive

But I know yes I know we’ll be alright

(Harry: he sees Louis as stronger, feels like he’s barely able to keep afloat and he won’t make it through on his own, but Louis inspires Harry to be stronger and together they can both make it through)

There’s a devil in your smile that’s chasing me

And every time I turn around it’s only gaining speed

There’s a moment when you finally realize

There’s no way you can change the rolling tide

But I know yes I know that I’ll be fine

(Liam: 2 interpretations- 1) talking about Modest and the devil in the smile is actually a bad thing, giving in to closeting because it’s what has to happen but he’ll be fine, 2) talking about Zayn and the devil in the smile is temptation, he stops fighting what he feels and it can be overwhelming but he’ll figure it out)

(Liam tends to change the “there’s no way you can change the rolling tide” to “there’s no way I can change the rolling tide” making the verse even more personal, it could be a mistake but I feel it’s his deliberate decision)

(1 is more likely in terms of the tenses, Harry’s verse is talking about the present and the future, so you would assume Liam’s would as well, he’s settled his feelings for Zayn for awhile now so the future would have to favor the closeting interpretation, 2 is more likely if you note that Harry used “we’ll be alright” but Liam used “I’ll be fine”, talking about closeting would include Zayn and the plural would make more sense, if he were talking about Zayn it would make more sense to refer just to himself)

This time I’m ready to run (RUN!)

Escape from this city and follow the sun

(”ready to run” could be taken a couple different ways- that you weren’t ready to run before (but are now) or that you’re extremely ready to run now to the point where you can’t hold back even if you wanted, I would favor the second as it’s pretty clear Harry and Louis haven’t been afraid of banging on the closet for a long time if ever, they’ve always been ready but this time they know the race is actually about to start)

(cities have a feeling of industrialism about them, synthetics and business, etc, so escaping the city symbolizes a more natural course and a new separation from all of the things cities represent, following the sun is a traditional way of orienting while traveling long distances, again has a more organic feel, the whole image is intimate, two people escaping the world together, just them, the sun is also usually a big indicator of positive things based on its position as the brightest source of light, following the sun would mean being free to chase the happy things rather than being stuck in the negative)

Cuz I wanna be yours don’t you wanna be mine

I don’t wanna get lost in the dark of the night

(this is a completely unambiguous declaration of a romantic relationship being the core of the song, there are almost no other situations where it would be common to say you’re claiming another person, that they are yours and you are theirs, parents and children are an exception but that relationship usually has a one-sided power dynamic where there wouldn’t be mutual questioning and deciding, the indication of asking this is in the song is that when they’re able to run is when they’ll be able to belong to each other, to claim each other)

(contrasting the sun to the dark of the night, it would represent the negatives, getting lost could mean getting slogged down or muddled yourself, if they stay closeted they worry about losing their way, it could also refer to others not being able to find you for the dark, the idea being that staying closeted is hiding them from the public when they don’t want to be hidden)

This time I’m ready to run (RUN!)

Wherever you are is the place I belong

(further disproves the idea that it’s anything but a romantic relationship, children are meant to leave the nest eventually so this line would be much more awkward for that interpretation)

Cuz I wanna be free and I wanna be young

I’ll never look back now

I’m ready to run

I’m ready to run

(being free and young are similar things the way they’re stated, youth is known for recklessness and joy and passion, so they want to be able to do and be those things unrestrained, someone (Rabbit) pointed out that young could actually be literal, they’re currently young so saying they want to be young is not a wish as much as an indicator of time, of something soon, or of still being young as they are now when they get their freedom)

(”never look back” indicates there’s a change being made, a division between how things were and how things are/are going to be, the change is a good one for them if they don’t want to look back at how things used to be, saying“now” also indicates this isn’t something that’s going to happen, it’s something that’s currently happening, they’re getting their freedom, the change is being made)

There’s a future in my life I can’t foresee

Unless of course I stay on course and keep you next to me

(Niall: the future is unclear, but as long as he keeps the boys next to him, there are a few things he can count on and that’s enough)

There will always be the kind that criticize

But I know yes I know we’ll be alright

(Louis: his and Harry’s relationship is always going to be criticized by someone, but it’s not even personal really, they’re just easy targets for bigotry, and they won’t let it stop them)

(this in particular is a flag to me that it isn’t a regular love song but a coming out song, bringing up the idea that someone might criticize your relationship isn’t all that common in love songs, even the sort of the“let’s run away together” genre, it’s also not referring to a specific person like their parents or friends, but gives a slightly more clinical feeling as if it’s strangers or people in the general public that might criticize, the lyrics aren’t the norm for a love song and fit their situation too closely to disregard it as mere coincidence)

This time I’m ready to run (RUN!)

Escape from this city and follow the sun

Cuz I wanna be yours don’t you wanna be mine

I don’t wanna get lost in the dark of the night

This time I’m ready to run (RUN!)

Wherever you are is the place I belong

Cuz I wanna be free and I wanna be young

I’ll never look back now

I’m ready to run

(repeating previous lines)

This time I’m ready to run

I’ll give everything that I got for your love

(Zayn: this is a repeat of the chorus, but he’s also declaring his dedication, he’s always been all in ever since he first started developing a crush on Liam, maybe from the first time they met, and it doesn’t look like that will change)

This time I’m ready to run (RUN!)

Escape from this city and follow the sun

Cuz I wanna be yours don’t you wanna be mine

I don’t wanna get lost in the dark of the night

This time I’m ready to run (RUN!)

Wherever you are is the place I belong

Cuz I wanna be free and I wanna be young

I’ll never look back now

I’m ready to run

(repeating previous lines)

So, as I said before, the way I view this song is that each boy’s verse corresponds to their actual voice. This is their situation and their viewpoint on it. For the choruses, I had a heavy Larry bias. I feel in my bones this is their coming out song, and while the other boys have their own places, the song as a whole is about them.

The song credits show Louis and Liam as writers. At first it might seem strange for Louis to write a verse for Harry to sing that praises Louis. It would be rather arrogant and conceited to write it that way intentionally even if he knew it was true.

If you view Harry’s verse, there’s no reason it couldn’t also be Louis’ point of view and feelings about Harry, so it wouldn’t be surprising if it was written about their situation. If you read Zayn’s verse, it could also be Liam’s perspective. Each couple is singing about their own situation but both solors could only written by one member of the couple. Harry and Zayn are not necessarily singing verses that were specifically trying to capture their views, but the lyrics apply to their situations and still likely portray an accurate view of their feelings on it.

Liam’s verse seems to be the most specific, but only if it’s referring to Zayn. If it’s referring to Modest, it actually would be both Zayn and Liam’s perspective.

Niall’s verse would be something that all the boys in the band could relate to, but it holds the most meaning for Niall. If One Direction is gone, they still have each other, but Niall is a friend, not a lover. The future of friends is not as closely tied as that of couples. Keeping them next to him in the band is the only way he can see his future with them clearly.

In any case, Louis or Liam could easily have written Niall’s verse from their perspective, but the interpretation I used ends up carrying the most weight when it comes from Niall. Even though it’s a much more common sentiment, it’s still specific to him and special.

It may not perfectly explain everything, but it seems to fit pretty well to me, so that’s my headcanon.

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