Pixel Glade

Favorite Rush Songs

About Rush

Rush is a prog rock trio from Canada who retired after a long 40 year career.

The band was composed of the singer and bassist Geddy Lee, the electric guitarist Alex Lifeson, and the (late) drummer/percussion specialist and lyricist Neil Peart.

If you wanna see what they look like in 1978, here's a nice photo of them crammed together in a car. Their look and music style changed a lot over 40 years.

About This List

Narrowing down my favorite song per album turned out to be the easiest way to filter their catalogue to pick some favorites.

It's difficult because there are multiple per album I like, and many "best of" Rush compilations include their most catchy or memorable tunes some of these are on my Top Rush Song list. I want to avoid doubling up too much.

However, which songs speak to me the most both lyrically and musically? They aren't the same as the ones that are most played, oddly enough.

These songs I would consider creative inspirations because I appreciate the ideas communicated behind them, so in a way it's appreciation for Neil Peart's lyric writing (the exception being the debut album Rush released in 1974 as he was not a member of the band yet) as much as the musicality of the other members.

These are ordered based on album.

(1) Finding My Way [Rush, 1974]

Finding My Way [YouTube].

Why I like it

It's a self-empowerment song and Geddy Lee's powerful vocals really energise the lyrics.

Runner Up

Honorable mention goes to the song Need Some Love because of the frantic youthful energy. It's incredibly catchy.

(2) Best I Can [Fly By Night, 1975]

Best I Can [YouTube].

Why I like it

Another self-empowerment song, but here are a few lyrics that really speak to me: "Got my sights on the stars, Won’t get that far But I’ll try anyway". It is very energetic and honest and a few days it has helped me get out of bed.

Like Anthem (the runner up song below) it was inspired by an ethos of individualism versus the collective. Be yourself, even if other people don't like it, even if you might not achieve your dreams.

Runner Up

Honorable mention to Anthem. Some of Rush's early songs were inspired by the author Ayn Rand particularly her short fiction novel Anthem which is about individualism and oppression from an authoritative ruling class. I ended up reading the novella because of these kinds of songs.

(3) The Fountain of Lamneth [Caress of Steel, 1975]

The Fountain of Lamneth [YouTube].

Why I like it

This was one of Rush's first epics with a 20 minute run time. It is about somebody seeking freedom or salvation in dreams, the disappointment as the people around them abandon them, and discovering new hopes, dreams, and love.

Frankly, it's hard to summarise in a sentence. Treat it like a musical short story. The emotion Geddy Lee pours into the performance is really beautiful and touching.

Runner Up

The Necromancer was my introduction to Rush so it has a special place in my heart. It seems loosely inspired by Tolkien, a story of "three travellers, Men of Willow Dale" "journeying into the dark and forbidding lands of the Necromancer." A weird but classic high-fantasy song.

(4) 2112 [2112, 1976]

2112: Overture / The Temples Of Syrinx / Discovery / Presentation / Oracle: The Dream /... [YouTube].

Why I like it

The second epic song which got me invested in this lyrics and concepts communicated in some of Rush's songs, and got me to read Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and Anthem which were some of the inspirations.

The way the different characters are portrayed vocally, lyrically, and musically is frankly amazing and the instrumental parts go hard.

There is a lot to like about this song, if you are in any way inclined by science fiction or fantasy themes in your music I recommend you give it a shot.

Runner Up

Another science fiction inspired song The Twilight Zone is quite quirky and a little eerie, as you might expect based on the source material (The Twilight Zone media franchise).

This song is also a bit rare in that it has whispered or spoken parts something that Geddy does not do often. Compared to all the screeching and shouting in 2112 this song has a much softer and laid-back sound.

(5) Closer To The Heart [A Farewell To Kings, 1977]

Rush - Closer To The Heart (Official Music Video) [YouTube].

Why I like it

This song was on my most played list as well, it has a good mix of thoughtful and sincere lyrics with catchy instrumentals to accompany a good message.

It's hard not to like it. Wouldn't society and politics at large be better if the men who held high places molded a new reality closer to the heart?

Runner Up

Xanadu has a bit of a Lovecraftian At The Mountains of Madness vibe in my opinion.

Although not the actual inspiration, Lovecraft was the mental connection I made and it has stuck.

There aren't too many songs out there about a man seeking immortality then going mad when he finally gets it.

(6) Cygnus Bringer of Balance [Hemispheres, 1979]

Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres [YouTube].

Why I like it

This is probably a bit blasphemous but I actually do not like a lot of this song Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres. It is long and has an erratic sound (to my ears) as much as I love the mythology in the lyrics I cannot understand most of the song unless I look at a lyric sheet because I find it hard to follow.

I love Cygnus X-1 (Book One - The Voyage) from the previous album Farewell to Kings but the only part of Book Two I really like is "Cygnus The Bringer of Balance" which chronologically occurs at the end of Book One when the spaceship the Rocinante gets sucked into the black hole Cygnus X-1 and disintegrates the crew.

I love Cygnus Bringer of Balance both for the vocal performance and the otherworldly atmosphere created with the instruments, you really feel like you are floating in space as a disembodied spirit. The hyperlink is timestamped to this section of the song but the embedded one isn't (but you can skip to 11:58 if you want to hear it, it ends around 14:38).

Runner Up

The Trees is a lighthearted song about oppression and workers unions (among trees). It was apparently intended as a joke song but the themes ring true today.

(7) Freewill [Permanent Waves, 1980]

Rush - Freewill (Audio) [YouTube].

Why I like it

Many of the Rush band members used to be religious but became atheist later in life. This song is about the choices made between believing in spiritual guidance versus picking your own path, which I find a relatable one.

Runner Up

I need to mention The Spirit of Radio as it is extremely catchy and about the joy and creativity in music (and the less appealing points of the music industry).

Lyrically and emotionally, Different Strings is about the different perspectives people have and attempts to connect with one another and how it doesn't always work. Musically, it's a solemn yet hopeful song. Different Strings I would consider a runner up lyrically.

(8) Vital Signs [Moving Pictures, 1981]

Rush - Vital Signs [YouTube].

Why I like it

This song was on my most played as well. It sounds a bit groovy (to me) at least for the first half. It means a lot to me because I interpret it as describing parts of gender dysphoria (at least during the first half of the song).

Also, my PhD involved signal processing so the way of expressing relationships or thoughts and feelings as incoherent signals appeals to me.

Runner Up

I don't know why this song appeals to me as Red Barchetta is about a car. As a vision impaired person who will never be able to drive and therefore has little interest in cars (better public transport please!), I think what is appealing about this song is that it's a mix of the "forbidden is thrilling" paired with the excitement and hope of the protagonist going against an oppressive society where cars are banned. In that way, it's got the freedom appeal of Anthem (this time with cars!).

(9) The Analog Kid [Signals, 1982]

Rush - The Analog Kid (Visualizer) [YouTube].

Why I like it

This song is processed for me on an emotional level and less a rational one. It's even in the chorus "You move me, you move me". It's a series of images about growing up, things we dream, sights we glimpse, love we hope for.

Runner Up

Subdivisions is probably the most popular song on the album Signals. It's about how suburbia can be restrictive and boring, and how cruel teenagers can be in rejecting those who are different from them.

(10) Distant Early Warning [Grace Under Pressure, 1984]

Rush - Distant Early Warning [YouTube].

Why I like it

Another from the most played list. I think the chorus appeals to me, I think this lyric sums it up "But I see the tip of the iceberg - and I worry about you". The verses create a feeling of helplessness and oppressiveness.

Plus the video is a parody of Dr Strangelove, Rush never took themselves too seriously.

Runner Up

The Enemy Within is a good description of paranoia and fear. I like the visual focus on eyes darting about in the music video even if the rest of it is quite dated.

(11) Mystic Rhythms [Power Windows, 1985]

Rush - Mystic Rhythms [YouTube].

Why I like it

Neil's lyrics are sometimes influenced by mysticism and this is one of the most obvious examples of that. There's an interesting focus on compartamentalisation of thoughts in the video, with some visuals related to data points, time freezing (literally and through photos), disembodied body parts, reflections, waves, and visual representations of fractals like a spiral seashell.

Out of all of Rush's 1980s music videos this one is the most interesting to me purely based on the ways these metaphysical concepts are communicated visually using surrealism and metaphor. Hands down my favorite Rush music video.

Runner Up

Middletown Dreams is about people downtrodden with their boring, repetitive, and unfulfilling lives. Each of the characters eventually pick themselves up and decide they can't go on doing things the same way and they have to try something new. "Dreams transport desires, drive you when you're down" in the chorus, pretty much sums it up.

(12) Open Secrets [Hold Your Fire, 1987]

Open Secrets [YouTube].

Why I like it

Every time I listen to this song something new in it speaks to me. The lyric I like most is "The things we're concealing, Will never let us grow, Time will do its healing, You've got to let it go".

Runner Up

High Water is like Open Secrets in that it gets better with repeated listens (in my opinion). Songs like Time Stand Still is most played from this album so I wanted to give some lesser noticed songs greater appreciation.

(12) Red Tide [Presto, 1989]

Red Tide (Remastered) [YouTube].

Why I like it

The lyrics in this song are very imagery focused and pairs nature scenes with those of human conflict and war. This song has unusual and eerie imagery which reminds me a little of something from Hieronymus Bosch or Journey to the Center of the Earth namely a prehistoric ocean under the earth's crust.

Runner Up

Presto has great lyrics like "I am made of the dust of the stars and the oceans flow in my veins", the imagery is really beautiful and is a little about foolish or idealistic fantasies and how they don't always reflect reality.

(13) Dreamline [Roll the Bones, 1991]

Dreamline (2004 Remaster) [YouTube].

Why I like it

Once again a song about hopes and dreams. This song is a lot like Middletown Dreams in that respect but it focused more on the future and the energy of new beginnings compared to that song. It is almost like a Part 2 of that song, now I think about it.

Runner Up

The Big Wheel this could be considered similar to The Analog Kid in that it is about childhood dreams, but the focus is more on how fate and circumstances outside of your control will influence your path in life.

(14) Animate [Counterparts, 1993]

Animate (2004 Remaster) [YouTube].

Why I like it

An ear worm musically and lyrically. This song is about how gender has become associated with certain roles and behaviours to the extent where acquiring or nurturing those traits in yourself is like mixing different polarities (or that's how I interpret the song - it's about psychological and behavioural binaries and trying to merge them).

Runner Up

Cold Fire is one of few love or relationship focused songs in Rush's musical career. It is quite explicitly about ideals of unconditional love but how relationships being built upon boundaries can never achieve it.

(15) Totem [Test for Echo, 1996]

Totem (Remastered) [YouTube].

Why I like it

The lyrics are a mouthful but is playing with ideas of spirituality and how one chooses what to believe in a world where the society, religion, and childhood stories and enduring belief systems influence what you perceive.

Runner Up

Resist is a pretty self explanatory title. I get the feeling the protagonist of this song is a bit lost in their belief system and trying to find answers in their often conflicting feelings while simultaneously trying to uphold their morals.

(16) How It Is [Vapor Trails, 2002]

How It Is (2013 Remix) [YouTube].

Why I like it

Vapor Trails is my least favorite Rush album, but that doesn't mean it's bad. The early 2000s heavy alternative sound just isn't my kind of jam. But I find How It Is has cleaner vocals, earnest lyrics, and a lighter sound overall.

Runner Up

Peaceable Kingdom has verses about rationalism meanwhile the chorus is a fight between Tarot cards. I interpret this song of being about the interplay between rationalism and irrationalism, and how despite our best efforts we are still emotional beings whose minds respond to symbolism and imagery. How can you make a Peaceable Kingdom when these forces are constantly fighting?

(17) Heart Full of Soul [Feedback, 2004]

Heart Full of Soul [YouTube].

Why I like it

Feedback is an album of cover songs so it is unique in this list. Rush do classic rock very well and Geddy's deeper and thicker vocals deliver on this song.

Runner Up

Geddy's delivery of "From low to high" in The Seeker gives me chills, honestly. I first heard it on one of their live performances which clued me in that they had done a cover album. I was familiar with The Who before this so hearing a song I already liked being covered by a band I loved kind of blew my mind a little.

(18) Faithless [Snakes & Arrows, 2004]

Faithless [YouTube].

Why I like it

I feel like Faithless is an accumulation of all the themes of religion and belief Rush has explored over the years into a nice bundled package that summarises a philosophy that many people adhere to. Just because you don't have religious faith doesn't mean you lack belief in the common good.

Runner Up

Far Cry was already on my most played list but I'm mentioning it again. It somehow bundles the communication difficulties between people with communication changes due to the internet. Thinking about the state of media today, I feel like the message of this song still rings true. The fact our daily lives are controlled / dominated by electrical circuits is just a fact, but when you think about it, it's kind of weird because the technology is intangible...

(19) Caravan [Clockwork Angels, 2012]

Caravan [YouTube].

Why I like it

Clockwork Angels works best as a whole album since it tells a story from start to finish (a concept album). Caravan is a powerful opening about idealism in a steampunk world "lit only by fire".

Runner Up

To deviate from the most played song The Garden, I will mention Halo Effect which is a bit like Cold Fire in that it's about relationships, instead of being about unconditional (or conditional, realistic relationships) it's about the unrealistic expectations we tend to put on those we love hopelessly and admire.

The Albums

The Official Rush website is a good resource for looking up albums, setlists and song lyrics.

If there are any Rush fans out there on Neocities, give me a follow!

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