Meaning of “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden

“Run to the Hills” serves as a critical summation of European actions during the Age of Exploration and colonization that followed and more specifically what such entailed in what is today known as the United States.  

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Iron Maiden's Run to the Hills at

The lyrics are quite interesting because in the intro Bruce takes on the role of the Native Americans, i.e. the victims, while in the verses he portrays the aggressors, that being the European colonizers. And it can be taken that this song is sympathetic or empathetic in nature in that said colonizers were most notably English, as are the members of Iron Maiden themselves. 

In other words, they are sympathizing with the underdogs since the Native Americans are still dealing with the negative ramifications of having been dominated by the Whiteman to this day.

And again, these lyrics are quite creative in that the vocalist takes on the role of such individuals who were around centuries ago, while the conquest of America was in full swing. 

As for the intro, Dickinson portrays an indigene who is noting that he and his people – in this case being the Cree, who populated the northwestern United States – fought the Whiteman with all they had.  But still they ended up losing their resources and basically being wiped out.

As for the verses, they are indicative of the type of mentality that the White colonizers developed towards Native Americans. And that was as if the indigenes, “women and children” alike, were an inferior people who were to be eradicated or ‘tamed’, i.e. subjugated.

But as for the sentiment relayed in the title, that would once again be from the sole perspective of the locals or indigenes. 

“Run to the hills, run for your lives
Run to the hills, run for your lives”

And what it is instructing them to do is “run to the hills”, as in “run for your lives”. Or put more bluntly, the situation was such that as the Whiteman encroached into the continent, all of the native tribes he came into contact with were at risk of losing it all. 

And indeed if you read the history of the United States, that’s exactly how things played out. The natives proceeded to suffer from a number of genocidal campaigns and for the most part lost all of their land. And the further tragedy of the situation is that to this day, they have yet to be made right.

When was “Run to the Hills” released?

Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”, officially hit the shelves on 12 February of 1982. This iconic song was released through EMI Group as a single from the English band’s “The Number of the Beast” album. The said album happens to be their 3rd studio album.

Were there other singles released from the “The Number of the Beast” Album?

Yes. “The Number of the Beast” was released as the second and final single from the said album.

Credits for “Run to the Hills”

British record producer Martin Birch took charge of the song’s production, while the songwriting task was handled by Steve Harris, who also serves as the lead composer, bassist and keyboardist for Iron Maiden.

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