Who out there has watched the great documentary about the iconic Canadian band Rush, called Beyond the Lighted Stage? Much like the band itself, the documentary is excellent, complete with seemingly meandering sections that always circles back to the main story that only enhances your experience of the band upon reflection. And, many of their albums are the same, including any of their compilation albums. Rush is NOT a greatest hits band in the sense of The Beatles, The Who or even Led Zeppelin could be. Instead, Rush is one of the finest album bands ever to reside in the American male’s musical experience. I do not know many white suburban males who did not have a Rush phase in their lives, my brother being an exception.
Quite possibly, Rush may have three of rock’s most musically talented musicians in the history of rock music, let alone within one band. They have what could be described today as “jam band” tendencies. But, unlike Phish and the Grateful Dead, Rush’s “jams” are planned and placed within the context of the musical piece they happen to be demolishing. Phish and the Dead often just take off then hope they can eventually find their way back to the song. Rush has no no problems nor pretensions. Their jams serve the purpose of the piece. And, this band writes pieces…and movements, like a three-man rock and roll orchestra.
Rush is not a Top 40 band, though they have had Top 40 hits. Those hits happened when the audience and radio catches up to the band’s music, and not that the band ever reduced their music down to the lowest common denominator. Their musical prowess and direction would never allowed them to stumble down that road.
Ultimately, Rush is the world’s most successful cult band, with Top 10, multiple platinum albums to their credit. Yet, the critics loved to pan Rush’s Canadian Led Zeppelin-on-steroids sound. Sure, like all young men, lyricist Neil Peart, a voracious reader himself, came under the spell of Ayn Rand, which can be heard in the lyrics of “Anthem” and the whole album 2112. Still, the band outgrew those naive ideals, unlike some politicians today (Paul Ryan, anyone?). To a young man, the idea of removing all restrictions is the ultimate “F. You!” to adults. But, do we really want feral groups of humans running around unabated like the characters in the 1980 movie Warriors? We all eventually learn why a dog cannot be in charge of his/her food, as it will gorge itself until it throws up. And, that’s why the libertarian’s dream always goes burst.
So, Rush’s lyrics grew as they individually matured into men. As the Eighties beckoned, Rush evolved by integrating the sounds of the times of world music and the use of the synthesizer began to embellish their music. And, that is when the band hit their commercial zenith with a trio of albums: Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures and Signals. At the very moment, Rush was both the most successful band AND the coolest underground band.
Some days, I just need to listen to this band’s music, arguably the most talented trio of musicians ever to join forces this side of The Police. The fact that their early output has aged so very well is a testament to the strength of the band. So, today, I will attempt to present My Top 30 Favorite Rush Songs, when I should honestly be ranking their albums instead. But, I never claimed to be sane. So, let’s get this countdown going!
- “Limelight” (Moving Pictures, 1981)
- “Red Barchetta” (Moving Pictures, 1981)
- “Working Man” (Rush, 1974)
- “Closer to the Heart” (A Farewell to Kings, 1977)
- “Tom Sawyer” (Moving Pictures, 1981)
- “The Spirit of the Radio” (Permanent Waves, 1980)
- “The Trees” (Hemispheres, 1978)
- “New World Man” (Signals, 1982)
- “Subdivisions” (Signals, 1982)
- “La Villa Strangiato” (Hemispheres, 1978)
- “Fly by Night” (Fly by Night, 1975)
- “Freewill” (Permanent Waves, 1980)
- “2112: Overture/The Temples of Syrinx/Discovery” (2112, 1976)
- “The Big Money” (Power Windows, 1985)
- “Finding My Way” (Rush, 1974)
- “Clockwork Angels” (Clockwork Angels, 2012)
- “We Hold On” (Snakes & Arrows, 2007)
- “Seven and Seven Is” (Feedback, 2004)
- “Time Stand Still (with Aimee Mann)” (Hold Your Fire, 1987)
- “What You’re Doing” (All the World’s a Stage, 1976)
- “Roll the Bones” (Roll the Bones, 1991)
- “Distant Early Warning” (Grace Under Pressure, 1984)
- “Something for Nothing” (2112, 1976)
- “Summertime Blues” (Feedback, 2004)
- “Anthem” (Fly by Night, 1975)
- “Nobody’s Hero” (Counterparts, 1993)
- “Vapor Trail” (Vapor Trails, 2002)
- “Crossroads” (Feedback, 2004)
- “Show Don’t Tell” (Presto, 1989)
- “Force Ten” (Hold Your Fire, 1987)
I told you it could be done! A Top 30 from Rush. Let me know what I left out! Have a great weekend.