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Music / Soul Asylum

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Runaway train, never goin' back,
Wrong way on a one-way track,
Seems like I should be getting somewhere,
Somehow I'm neither here nor there.
"Runaway Train"

Soul Asylum is an American alternative rock band from Minneapolis led by singer/guitarist Dave Pirner that have been active since 1983. Best known for their 1993 song "Runaway Train" that featured pictures of missing persons (localised to the country the video was being shown in) interspersed with the video itself followed by a short Public Service Announcement by Pirner, as well as their 1995 hit "Misery." The band faded away from public conciousness as the 90s drew to a close but are still recording and touring.

An odd subplot in their career was when Pirner and Winona Ryder dated for three years in the mid 1990s, leading to Pirner starting a bizarre one sided feud with Primus after Pirner took violent exception to their song "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" despite lead singer Les Claypool's adamant statement that the song was not about Ryder - if nothing else the title is spelled and pronounced differently to her name.


  • Say What You Will, Clarence... Karl Sold the Truck (1984)
  • Made to Be Broken (1986)
  • While You Were Out (1986)
  • Hang Time (1988)
  • And the Horse They Rode In On (1990)
  • Grave Dancers Union (1992)
  • Let Your Dim Light Shine (1995)
  • Candy from a Stranger (1998)
  • The Silver Lining (2006)
  • Delayed Reaction (2012)
  • Change of Fortune (2016)

This band and their music contain examples of:

  • Abandoned Playground: "Black Gold".
    This spot was a playground.
    This flat land used to be a town.
  • I Am the Band: Dave Pirner is the only original member left.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The original lineup lasted twelve years.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: One child after being recognised on the "Runaway Train" video was forced back into a bad home situation after being turned in.
  • Ordinary People's Music Video: The music video for "Can't Even Tell" featured the band and the cast of Clerks playing hockey on the roof of the Quick Stop. Randall lampshades this trope at the beginning of the music video:
-"You know what the problem with music videos is? They never address the interest of the common man... alls I saw was chaotic imagery and metaphoric visuals. No hockey, no comics, nothing; just chicks and explosions."
  • Protest Song: "Black Gold" is lyrically a bit abstract, but the antiwar themes come across fairly clearly, and the oil industry also comes under scrutiny (with the convergence of those two factors in The Gulf War still fresh in everyone's minds in 1993). But it also touches on racism and economic collapse.
  • Public Service Announcement: At the end of the video to "Runaway Train" followed by the number of local missing persons helpline.
    —Dave Pirner: "If you've seen one of these kids, or you are one of them, please call this number."
  • Visual Pun: The song "Misery" features references to "making misery." The song's video includes footage of a manufacturing plant where the CD single of "Misery" is being reproduced and packaged — in other words, it's making "Misery."