A chronological listing of historical, literary, theatrical and musical inspirations for Rush. Please feel free to email any suggestions.
As described in the song's lyrics, the constellation of Cygnus (Greek for "swan") literally lies just east of the constellation of Lyra and northwest of the constellation Pegasus. The swan's tail is the star Deneb (Arabic for "tail"), and is traditionally pictured as flying south, down the Milky Way. Non-telescopic methods of investigation into this constellation have detected the X-ray source Cygnus X-1, a candidate black hole.
From "Chain Lightning", a sun dog is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often a halo on either side of the sun. Sun dogs are formed by ice crystals in high and cold cirrus clouds or, during very cold weather, by ice crystals called diamond dust drifting in the air at low levels. These crystals act as prisms, bending the light rays passing through them by 22°. If the crystals are randomly oriented, a complete ring around the sun is seen - a halo. But often, as the crystals sink through the air they become vertically aligned, so sunlight is refracted horizontally and sun dogs are seen.
"In 'Chain Lightning,' I celebrated the dazzling phenomenon of sun dogs in the winter sky and the Perseid meteor showers of August, then connected them to the light in my daughter's eyes when we shared those sights." - Neil Peart, "My Laurentian Soulscape", Canadian Geographic, January/February 2006
Mount Tai Shan, Shangdong Province, China
Tai Shan is a mountain in China which has been venerated as their most sacred peak since at least the third millenium B.C., functioning as a god who looked after the affairs of humans and who also acted as a communication channel for humans to speak to God. There are approximately 7000 stairs stretching over six miles to the summit. Legend has it that if you climb "up the seven thousand stairs" and "raise your hands to heaven, you will live a 100 years".
"'Tai Shan' is a personal song that Neil wrote about his experience climbing a mountain in China that was called Tai Shan, and the feelings and thoughts that he had as he got to the top of this mountain." - Geddy Lee, "Rockline", October 5, 1987
Inukashuk, ~2000 B.C.
The stone statue found in the Test For Echo album art is an "Inukashuk" (also spelled as "Inukshuk"), an Inuit word which translates as "taking the place of a man" (an extension of "inuk", or human being). Inukshuk serve as Inuit signposts in the Canadian Arctic, and mark the highest point of land to aid in navigation or to assist in hunting, while some serve as sight lines to important and powerful places beyond the horizon. Some inuksuit (singular) have been standing for centuries, most likely longer; the Inuit, who have lived in Nunatsiaq (the beautiful land) for over 4000 years believed that these figures were built at the time of their earliest ancestors. An inukshuk is also shown on the flag of the Canadian territory of Nunavut.
"I was up in Yellowknife last June on a motorcycle trip across the country, and there's one of those Inukashuk above the town overlooking it, and I was quite taken with it. I bought a postcard almost exactly the image you see on the cover ... I just came back with this postcard and I thought of 'test for echo.' I thought that's exactly what these men mean when you're out in the wilderness ... when you've been hiking for a few days and you come across one of these things, it's such an affirmation that there's life out there. Again the same thing: it's an echo ... and that's the feeling a traveler in the Arctic would get, that it was a sign of life. The same with the satellite dishes. I was kind of referring to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the test for echo going out that way." - Neil Peart, Jam! Showbiz, October 16, 1996
"The Greek symbol ouroboros, or snake eating its tail, surrounds a calligraphic rendering of my favorite road sign: the universal symbol for 'winding road' (On a motorcycle or in a fast car, that's the best kind of 'snake and arrow' you can see.)" - Neil Peart, "The Games Of Snakes And Arrows"
The Odyssey by Homer, ~900 B.C.
This epic gave the basis for lines in three songs: "Lotus Land", home of the Lotus-eaters, who live in a drugged, lazy state from feeding on the lotus, is mentioned in the song "Freewill"; the hero Odysseus, is "lashed, helpless, to the mast", as in the "No One At The Bridge" section of "The Fountain of Lamneth" to avoid the seductive sirens, as in "the x-ray is her siren song" from "Cygnus X-1".
Pythagoras, ~600 B.C.
The Father of Geometry, Pythagoras taught that the movements of the heavenly bodies travelling through the universe created sounds, which he called "the Music of the Spheres", as in "The Analog Kid". He believed these sounds could be perceived by those who had been consciously trained to hear them, and then sounded in the intervals of plucked strings. Pythagoras was said to have actually been able to hear the sounds of the planets as they vibrated in the heavens, and recently scientists using advanced mathematical principles based upon the orbital velocities of the planets have actually equated different sounds with different planets. - Science of Harmonics
Socrates, 469-399 B.C.
This Greek philosopher may have inspired the lyric "better the pride that resides, in a citizen of the world" from "Territories" when he said "I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."
Metaphysics by Aristotle, 350 B.C.
The inspiration for the song "Prime Mover". Aristotle argued that since movement is eternal there can be no absolute first or last change. Change therefore must be eternal. Eternal change is explained by the assumption of the existence of a supreme being, a divine being, described as the Prime Mover. The Prime Mover causes all movement and maintains the eternal life of the universe, or, "sets the wheels in motion, turns up all the machines, activates the programs, and runs behind the scene"...
"This song simply describes the phenomenon of the sun breaking through the clouds in visible rays, as it sometimes does after a rain or on a cloudy day. The actual name seems to be one of those traditional names for natural things which has probably been around for ages. I think Geddy actually suggested the idea to me, after hearing his mother-in-law use the name. It had a nice sound to it, and of course the event itself is a beautiful and inspiring one." - Neil Peart, "Backstage Club Newsletter", December 1985
"The reference comes from the Faulkner book. After reading the novel, I was curious and looked up the name in the encyclopedia. Then, while writing that song, I had 'obsolete, absolute' in there, and I thought how similar the word-shape was to 'Absalom.' Since one of the main themes of the song was compassion, it occurred to me that the Biblical story was applicable-David's lament for his son: 'Would God I had died for thee,' seemed to be the ultimate expression of compassion. And that's how it happened." - Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", October 1991
"More a paraphrase than a quote, really, but it comes from a prayer which was stitched into a sampler above my grandmother's bed. It began like this: 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep...'" - Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", January 1994
Leela, The Game Of Snakes & Arrows, ~ first century A.D.
The cover of Snakes & Arrows is a direct reprint of the "Leela" gameboard; although this version was from the 1970's, the game itself is 2000 years old.
"To my surprise, 'snakes and arrows' called up several links to something called 'Leela, The Game of Self Knowledge,' or, incredibly, 'The Game of Snakes and Arrows.' Long story short, I followed that trail with growing enthusiasm, and learned that Leela (Hindi for 'the game') was at least 2,000 years old, and had been created by Buddhist saints and sages as a game of karma-like many games, a metaphor for life...The Leela player rolls a single die, said to be affected by his or her karma, and moves around the board. Each square on the grid represents a stage of consciousness or existence, and the player is raised to higher levels by arrows, and brought low by snakes. The children's game 'Snakes and Ladders' (sometimes called 'Chutes and Ladders') was adapted from Leela by the British during the 19th century Colonial period. After that, the original game almost disappeared-apparently only two gameboards existed in India when scholar Harish Johari revived the game and brought it to America in the 1970s...When I told Alex and Geddy about the Leela connection, and showed them the gameboard painted by Harish Johari, they were as excited by all that serendipity as I was, and we agreed to use his painting for the cover." - Neil Peart, "The Game of Snakes & Arrows"
Eth, ~ 1000 Eth is a letter (capital Ð, lower-case ð) used in Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon, an early form of the English language which was spoken in England some 1000 years ago) and present-day Icelandic and Faroese (a West Scandinavian language spoken in parts of the Faroe Islands and Denmark). The letter had its origin as a d with a cross-stroke added. The lowercase version has retained the curved shape of a medieval scribe's d, which d itself has not. In Icelandic, ð represents a voiced dental fricative as in "th" in English "them". Eth was usually used when the diagraph was voiced (as in "the" or "that"). In Middle English, ð is no longer used. Lower-case eth is used as a symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet, again for a voiced dental fricative.
Xanadu, Kubla Khan's summer capital, ~1200
Xanadu was the summer capital of Kubla Khan, whose empire spanned much of Asia during his rule from 1215 to 1294. European travellers later told of the splendors of Xanadu, including Marco Polo who visited in 1275. The reported splendour of Xanadu later inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge to write his great poem Kubla Khan (see separate entry below), which led Xanadu to become a metaphor for opulence, including the name of the estate of tycoon Charles Foster Kane in the film Citizen Kane. Xanadu is remembered today largely thanks to this poem, which Rush put to music in the song by the name.
Tarot Cards, ~1300
Tarot cards are referred in the lyrics to "Peaceable Kingdom", and are pictured in the artwork for Vapor Trails and the "One Little Victory" single.
"The tarot card 'The Tower' seemed a chilling reflection of the events of September 11, 2001." - Neil Peart, "Behind The Fire"
"Though I've always been a card-carrying rational-scientific-skeptic, I try to remain open to all possibilities (the difference between a cynic and a skeptic, I like to think, is one is dismissive, the other only doubtful), so I thought it would be entertaining to have my first tarot reading. The graphics of the tarot cards had always seemed romantic and mystical to me, and the few names I knew were also intriguing: The Tower, The Hanged Man, The Lovers, The Fool. From among the sidewalk readers I chose the one who wasn't dressed in gypsy garb, a spare, fit-looking man of about 60 years with a weathered face. As I sat at the folding card table beside him, his expression was calm and intent. (Later I learned he was a Vietnam veteran, and a practical, down-to-earth sort of man.) His well-worn deck of cards was spread before us, face down and cut into separate stacks that were bound with elastic bands. Without asking any questions or trying to gather any 'clues,' he fanned one of the stacks toward me and told me to choose five. I plucked them out in a way I felt was random, and he placed them on the table, face up. Death, Wisdom, The Tower, Wheel of Fortune, High Priestess. After a few seconds of silence, he shook his head and said, 'This is most unusual.' Then he gave me his interpretation, which so galvanized me that I was compelled to ask him to write it down for me. 'After great tragedy and tribulation you are trying to rebuild yourself and your life. Pain from separation is causing you unhappiness, and you're dwelling on past conflicts, travelling with regrets. You work in the performing arts of some kind - actor? musician? - and your job offers you abundance, but this has deteriorated as you've been moving in a different direction. Now you are travelling far from home, trying to begin a new cycle, but you're not ready. You need more insight.' Then he had me choose five cards from the next stack, and carried on. “After a time of difficulty, of unhappiness and financial problems, you will find a new beginning with a relationship, and a time of superabundance. This person will not only provide you with affection, but will help you straighten out your money problems as well. She will be a true partner to you.' My jaw dropped, and it's still dropping. That little oration was so true in every respect, then and now, that, as I said at the time, 'It rocked my world.' It was so far beyond the possibility of guesswork or generality, and subsequent events and future readings only reinforced that experience, gave me the 'empirical evidence' of repeatability. For days after that reading I walked around shaking my head. One part of my brain was seeking in vain for a rational explanation, while another part was trying hard to find a way to incorporate this understanding into my world-view. How does a rational-scientific-skeptic find a place in his orderly philosophy for that? (Though I could say the same thing about death.)" - Neil Peart, Ghost Rider
"The Tower is an unsettling card. Fire, lightning, falling on jagged rocks - definitely looks like trouble! It represents a sudden, dramatic upheaval or reversal in fortune. Usually change is gradual, giving us time to adapt, but sometimes it is quick and explosive. This is the action of the Tower." - www.learntarot.com
Sir Gawain and the Green Night, anonymous, ~1400
This epic poem follows Sir Gawain, a Knight of the Round Table, and nephew to King Arthur. The poem was nearly put to song on Permanent Waves, but ended being replaced by "Natural Science". What may be interesting to Rush fans is Gawain's shield, which is emblazoned with a pentacle, a five pointed star (the meaning of the shield is described in book II, stanzas 27-28).
"I had also been working on making a song out of a medieval epic from King Arthur's time, called 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'. It was a real story written around the 14th century, and I was trying to transform it while retaining it's original form and style. Eventually it came to seem too awkwardly out of place with the other material we were working on, so we decided to shelve that project for the time being...with the departure of 'Gawain' we had left ourselves nothing with which to replace him!...something new began to take shape. It was the product of a whole host of unconnected experiences, books, images, thoughts, feelings, observations, and confirmed principles, that somehow took the form of 'Natural Science'...forged from some bits from 'Gawain', some instrumental ideas that were still unused, and some parts newly-written." - Neil Peart, "Personal Waves, The Story Of An Album"
"..whether it gets used or not isn't too important to me anymore, really, having done it. It was really a challenge to me as a lyricist to take something like an eighty-page medieval poem and try to encapsulate it in a reasonably (even for Rush) lengthed song." - Neil Peart, Sounds, April 5, 1980.
"A Young Hare" by Albrecht Durer, painted in 1502
This painting was reproduced without alteration on the Presto tourbook back cover. One of the most prolific artists of the renaissance period, be sure to check out the Albrecht Durer page at Artsy.net which includes his biography, a number of high resolution images, exclusive articles about the artist, as well as up-to-date exhibitions with his work.
A Fly Upon a Wheel by Laurentius Abstemius, ~1492-1503
This fable from the "Hetamythium", which paraphrases Aesop's "The Fly and the Draught-Mule" would later be quoted in Francis Bacon's essay "Of Vain Glory". It led to the lyric "Like the fly on the wheel, who says 'What a lot of dust we're raising'" in "The Stars Look Down" (this lyric makes more sense based on Francis Bacon's explaination - see separate entry). Abstemius was Professor of Belles Lettres at Urbino, and Librarian to Duke Guido Ubaldo under the Pontificate of Alexander VI. (1492-1503).
"What a dust do I raise!" says the Fly, "upon the Coach-wheel- And what a rate do I drive at." says the same Fly again, "upon the horse's buttock!"
Earthshine, an astronomic phenomena first described by Leonardo Da Vinci in the Codex Leicester between 1506 and 1510, is the term describing the sunlight which is reflected by the Earth to illuminate the Moon. This happens every 29.5 Earth-days, hence the lyric "on certain nights, when the angles are right..."
William Shakespeare, (1564-1616)
Two of Shakespeare's plays influenced the lyrics of Neil Peart.
The Essays by Francis Bacon, 1601
A collection of essays which inspire morality, etc., the beginning of the essay "Of Vain Glory" quotes Aesop's "The Fly and the Draught-Mule", although it is actually paraphrasing Abstemius' "A Fly Upon a Wheel" (see separate entries above). Upon reading the beginning of this essay on vanity, the lyrics "Like the fly on the wheel, who says 'What a lot of dust we're raising'" in "The Stars Look Down" are made clear (i.e. the vanity of those who are under the illusion that they are in control their situation, although they are merely along for the ride).
[Opening excerpt:] "It was prettily devised of Aesop, 'The fly sat upon the axle-tree of the chariot wheel, and said, What a dust do I raise!' So are there some vain persons, that whatsoever goeth alone, or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it."
Vanitas, Dutch style of painting, ~early 1600's
The cover of Roll The Bones was created in the Vanitas style, a type of still life consisting of a collection of objects that symbolize the brevity of human life and the transience of earthly pleasures and achievements.
"The cover art reflects a style of 17th century Dutch painting called vanitas, in which symbols, such as the skull (and also candles, books, flowers, playing cards, etc.), were used to remind the good Netherlanders of life's brevity, and the ultimate transience of all material things and sensual pleasures." - Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", January 1994
Doctor Faustus (or The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus), by Christopher Marlowe, 1604
This play concludes with the line, "Terminat hora diem, terminat auctor opus" ["As the hour finishes the day, the author finishes his work"], and is quoted at the end of "The Necromancer" in the Caress of Steel linernotes.
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, 1605
This book co-inspired the name of the starship in "Cygnus X-1".
"Rocinante was Don Quixote's horse, and also the name of John Steinbeck's truck in Travels With Charley. I just liked it, that's all." Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", March 1990
Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne, 1623-1624
The 17th devotion in this collection of meditations and prayers, "Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris" ("Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me: Thou must die"), is the inspiration for the title of Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls, and inspired the lyrics to "Losing It" (in an homage to Hemingway [see separate entry below]).
[Excerpt:] No man is an island, entire of itself;...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
The Plains of Abraham, Quebec, Canada
The opening lyric of the title track on Geddy Lee's "My Favorite Headache", "One man standing on the Plains of Abraham," refers to the headland between Quebec City and the St Lawrence River. The Plains of Abraham owe their name to Abraham Martin, the "King's Pilot" (ship captain), who owned the property at the time of the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). On September 13th, 1759, the British attacked the French, who held Quebec City. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham lasted a mere 15 minutes but resulted in the death of both commanders and the city surrendering to the British. The following year the British captured Montreal and the French control over New France fell, resulting in the birth of the new country of Canada.
Candide, by Voltaire, 1759
Neil Peart has stated Candide is a primary inspiration behind Clockwork Angels. The novella is a satire about a young man, Candide, who lives a sheltered life indoctrinated with "Optimism" by his mentor, Pangloss, who believes "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." Eventually Candide experiences painful disillusionment while witnessing great hardships in the world, which includes a stop in a city of gold, before eventually rejecting Optimism outright, stating "we must cultivate our garden".
United States Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1776
"We hold these truths to be self-evident" used in "Alien Shore" is from the first sentence of the preamble, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
Bastille Day, July 14, 1789
This French Holiday inspired the song of the same name. Bastille Day celebrates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the birth of France's First Republic.
"It became pertinent to me later that the Queen's Park building in Toronto where it was shot had all the right elements: three arches, three pillars per arch; there are three members of Rush, and all of that..." - Hugh Syme, Creem, 1983
"The title refers to the identity code used by the Toronto International Airport. We used the Morse Code signal emitted by the control tower as a rhythmic device for the introduction (-.--/-.--/--..) dah dit dah dah dah dit dah dah/dah dah dit dit, = Y-Y-Z." - Neil Peart, "Notes On The Making of Moving Pictures", Modern Drummer, February 1983
"It is always a happy day when YYZ appears on our luggage tags!" - Neil Peart, "A Rush Newsreel"
"There are parts of that song that are semi-evocative of the feelings that are engendered when you are going to the airport to leave. You are sort of feeling edgy and tense because you are having to leave home and go to work, and you are thinking that you are half at home and half away. It's a very transitional period, and you always have a sense of infinite possibilities at the airport. You can change your mind and fly anywhere in the world, and all of a sudden, you are not in Toronto any more, you are in the world. An airport really should not be said to be (in) a city, because it never is. It's always a crossroad. And that of course is a big part of the song. We tried to work a lot of the exotic nature of the airport in there. And the big sappy instrumental bridge in the middle that is really orchestrated, really emotional, really rich, is of course again half symbolising the tremendous emotional impact of coming home." - Neil Peart, Visions
"YYZ is the aviation code for Toronto International Airport, and the song is loosely based on airport-associated images. Exotic destinations, painful partings, happy landings, that sort of thing." - Neil Peart, Backstage Club Newsletter", March 1990
"The Morse code came from a flight back to Toronto. I had a friend who picked us up in a Piper Aztec, a little six-seater plane. The Morse code notifier for Toronto was YYZ. We were listening to it and Geddy or Neil commented on the rhythm of it, what a cool rhythm that would be." - Alex Lifeson, EW.com, November 20, 2015
"Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798
Xanadu was the summer capital of Kubla Khan, whose empire spanned much of Asia during his rule from 1215 to 1294. European travellers later told of the splendors of Xanadu, including Marco Polo who visited in 1275. The reported splendour of Xanadu later inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge to write his great poem "Kubla Khan", which led Xanadu to become a metaphor for opulence, including the name of the estate of tycoon Charles Foster Kane in the film Citizen Kane. Xanadu is remembered today largely thanks to this poem, which Rush put to music in the song by the name. Like many great rock & roll tunes, this poem was written while the poet was having an opium-induced hallucination. The poem remains unfinished, as before Coleridge could complete it, someone knocked on his door. By the time he had finished with the intruder, the inspiration had gone.
"In 1975 I was trying to write a song inspired by the dark mood and subtle psychology of the film Citizen Kane, which features the opening lines of Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I looked up the poem and was overwhelmed by its imagery and emotional power. The song Xanadu was taken over by the poem in a way that has never happened since. I added the 'adventure travel' aspect to the song's story before I'd traveled further than the rock clubs of North America. I portrayed Coleridge's idea of immortality as a grim curse - Citizen Kane is the opposite: mortality as a punishment. There's a joke that goes, 'Rush is what happens when you let the drummer write the songs', which is funny, but of course I only write the lyrics. The line in the song Animate - 'daughter of a demon lover' - pays homage to these powerful lines from Kubla Khan: 'As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted/ By woman wailing for her demon lover.' Now that's rock." - Neil Peart, The Guardian, October 7, 2010
Natural Theology by William Paley, 1802
The "Watchmaker" from Clockwork Angels is most likely inspired by "The Watchmaker Analogy", which is a theleological argument for the existence of God. By way of an analogy, the argument states that design implies a designer. This argument was first made by Cicero (106 - 43 BC) in De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods), later made famous by William Paley's Natural Theology in 1802. Rush's point of view, however, is likley inspired by Richard Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker.
"Auguries Of Innocence" by William Blake, 1803
The opening stanza of this poem, "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour..." likely inspired the lyrics "I can save the universe in a grain of sand, I can hold the future in my virtual hand" in "Virtuality".
"The Beaufort Scale", 1805
This system for estimating wind strengths inspired the title of the song "Force 10", as confirmed by Neil Peart in the "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", March 1990. Wind strengths are estimated without the use of instruments, based on the effects wind has on the physical environment. The behavior of smoke, waves, trees, etc., is rated on a 13 point scale of 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane), with 10 being a storm/whole gale with winds speeds of 48-55 knots (55-63 mph; 89-102 kph; 24.5-28.4 mps). The scale was devised in 1805 by the British naval Commander, later Admiral, Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1875). A further set of numbers (13-17) for very strong winds were added by the US Weather Bureau in 1955.
Edward Hicks, (1780-1849)
The works of this artist inspired the song title "Peaceable Kingdom."
"The nineteenth-century Quaker folk artist, Edward Hicks, painted no less than sixty versions of the same biblical scene, 'Peaceable Kingdom',..." - Neil Peart, "Behind The Fire"
Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841
This essay contains the line, "Trust thyself! Every heart vibrates to that iron string." Although no connection has ever been confirmed by Geddy Lee, this is very simillar to imagery of "Different hearts beat on different strings" from "Different Strings". [Side note: although the Remastered release of Permanent Waves gives lyric credit for this song to Neil, this is a misprint as confirmed by Anthem Records.]
The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe, 1842
Prospero's masquerade party is interrupted by an uninvited guest dressed as a man dying of plague, who is later discovered to be Death himself. This tale likely inspired the "Red Tide" lyrics: "Nature has some new plague to run in our streets...The party is disrupted by an uninvited guest".
Victoria Day, May 24, 1845
This Canadian Holiday is celebrated in the song "Lakeside Park". Commemorating Queen Victoria's birthday, it has been celebrated in Canada since her reign (1837-1901). First declared a holiday by the Legislature of the Province of Canada in 1845, after her death in 1901 an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a Victory Day as a legal holiday on May 24. Beginning in 1977, the date is now officially recognized as the Monday on or before May 24th.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 1859
"Quite a few of our songs have been inspired by books. 'Bastille Day' came directly from A Tale of Two Cities." - Neil Peart, Circus, October 13, 1977
Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, 1862
The title of this children's novel, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, most likely inspired the lyric "like malice through the looking glass" in "Ceiling Unlimited".
"Dover Beach", by Matthew Arnold, 1867
As a "tribute" to the author, Neil Peart included one line from this poem, "confused alarms of struggle and flight", in the song "Armor and Sword" as explained in "The Game of Snakes & Arrows".
"1812 Overture" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1872
A short tribute to this overture is included in Rush's "2112 Overture". The names are obviously similar as well, although it is unconfirmed if the year "2112" was specifically chosen as a play on "1812".
The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche, 1872
Nietzsche's first book, published in 1872 when he was 28, was likely the inspiration for the use of Apollo and Dionysus in "Hempishperes". Although Neil Peart stated his inspiration for "Hempisheres" was Powers of Mind by Adam Smith, 1977, Smith himself likely referenced Nietzsche. In this book Nietzsche introduced two principles which would be present in his writing to the end: the Dionysian principle - the principle of chaos, dream and intoxication - and the Apollonian principle - the principle of order and form-giving. Both these principles are associated with an aesthetic disposition - of life as a work of art.
"Dance Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saëns, 1875
This classical composition was used by Rush as introductory music on tour during the 70's, according to Geddy Lee from the Different Stages Rockline interview, January 20, 1999.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, 1876
This story inspired the title of the song "Tom Sawyer" with a "modern-day" twist.
Paul Gauguin, (June 7, 1848 - May 8, 1903)
One of the characters in "Middletown Dreams" is based on Paul Gauguin, who quit his job and left his wife and children at the age of 25 for a life of painting.
"Each of the characters in ["Middletown Dreams"] is drawn from real life or specific literary examples...The painter Paul Gauguin is another example of a person who, late in life, just walked out of his environment and went away. He too became important and influencial. He is the influence for the woman character of the song." Neil Peart, Canadian Composer, April 1986
Wessex Tails by Thomas Hardy, 1888
According to Visions, when Rush entered the studio to record demo tracks for Moving Pictures, "Left aside was a softer piece based on Thomas Hardy entitled 'Wessex Tails'. Much like 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', it did not sit comfortably with the direction in which the band was now moving."
"Thus Spoke Zarathrustra" by Richard Strauss, 1890
This classical composition, made famous by the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), was used by Rush as introductory music during the Counterparts and Test for Echo tours and can be heard at the beginning of disk 1 of Different Stages. Strauss' inspiration for the song was Fredrick Nietszche's book of the same name. Zarathrustra was the Prophet of Zoroastrianism, the oldest known Western religion on earth (Persian), believed to have been born around 600 B.C.
"The Night Has A Thousand Eyes", by Francis William Bourdillion, 1891
The lyric "The night has a thousand saxaphones" in the song "Roll The Bones" is likely a humorous homage to this poem.
Range Of Light, John Muir's nickname for the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 1890's
As mentioned in "Workin' Them Angels" from Snakes & Arrows, the "Range Of Light" is a nickname given by preservationist John Muir for the Sierra Nevada mountain range that stetches along most of eastern California.
Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900
"'Ceiling Unlimited' also offers a playful take on Oscar Wilde's reversal of the Victorian lament, 'drink is the curse of the working class,'" - Neil Peart, "Behind The Fire"
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, 1900
Two poems included in this collection inspired Rush lyric/song titles.
Lakeside Park, founded 1902
The inspiration for the song by the same name, "Lakeside Park" is located in Neil's childhood hometown of Port Dalhousie, a suburb of St. Catherines, Ontario, about an hour south of Toronto on the southern tip of Lake Ontario. The Park has existed since 1902 and operations for commercial purposes have continued since 1921. The park still offers a Merry-go-round, willows, lighthouse and pier (although fires have been banned!). The traditional fireworks shows on the 24th of May (Victoria Day) no longer occur; they now occur on the 1st of July (Canada Day).
"Another important setting in my childhood and early teens was Lakeside Park, in Port Dalhousie...When I was fourteen and fifteen, I worked summers at Lakeside Park as a barker ('Catch a bubble, prize every time,' all day and night)...And there was music: some of the kids brought transistor radios to work, and the music of that summer of 1966 played up and down the midway...At night, when the midway closed, we gathered around a fire on the beach, singing...Lakeside Park resonated in my life in so many deep ways, especially those fundamental exposures to music that would be forever important...Its's all gone now. All that's left, apart from memories, is the old merry-go-round..." - Neil Peart, Traveling Music
"When Hugh Syme was developing the multitude of puns for the cover, he wanted the guys 'moving pictures' to have some 'moving pictures' to be moving past the people who were 'moved' by the 'picture' - get it? The card-playing dogs are there because it was a funny, silly idea - one of the most cliche'd pictures we could think of - a different kind of 'moving picture.'" - Neil Peart, "Backstage Club Newsletter", December 1985.
Joseph Conrad, 1857-1924
Two of Conrad's novels influenced the lyrics of Neil Peart.
"That's where that character comes from, there and Michael Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion. He has a central character who's a committed terrorist/anarchist. Anarchy is an innocent utopian thing for him, an ideal." - Neil Peart, Classic Rock Special Clockwork Angels Edition, June 11, 2012
Totem And Taboo by Sigmond Freud, 1913
The inspiration for the song "Totem". Totem being what we worship and Taboo being what we fear. At one point, the title of the song "Resist" was to be "Taboo".
"I've always been curious about all religions, and the Totem idea came from the Freud book 'Totem And Taboo', which I ran across at the Chalet studio where we were working just in the bookshelf in the living room. I had been kind of rediscovering Freud by way of Jung and getting to understand the really deep stuff he was dealing with as opposed to some of the pop psychology that we were fed growing up, and I thought Totem And Taboo was such a beautiful title because it's what we fear and what we worship. Totem being what we worship and Taboo being what we fear. What a beautiful, embracing metaphor. At one time, the song Resist was called 'Taboo' because I wanted to have the two little set pieces of what we fear, and in 'Totem' I was just trying to appropriate all religions because that's what I found looking around at different religions and different systems, is that they all have something good. So I thought why not have them all? The 'Buddha smile' is a nice thing, and I'd like to have 12 Apostles...it's all great. It was really just a kind of tongue and cheek, all the good things of different religions." Neil Peart, Jam! Showbiz, October 16, 1996
Carl Jung, 1875-1961
Carl Jung called our collective uncounsiousness our "inner space", and said it contained the knowledge we are all born with which he called "archetypes". The song "Animate" contains many archetypes symbolizing the unconscious female component of the male psyche, the "Anima", which is the "counterpart" to the male component of the female psyche, the "Animus".
Sherwood Anderson, September 13, 1876 - March 8, 1941
One of the characters in "Middletown Dreams" is based on Sherwood Anderson, who at the age of 36 left his wife and three kids and quit his job as president of Anderson Manufacturing Co. to become a full time writer. His works would inspire future writers, including Faulkner, Hemingway and Steinbeck. In fact, it was through his influence that first books of both Faulkner and Hemingway were published.
"Each of the characters in ["Middletown Dreams"] is drawn from real life or specific literary examples. The first character as based on a writer called Sherwood Anderson. Late in his life, Anderson literally walked down the railroad tracks out of a small town and went to Chicago in the early 1900's to become a very important writer of his generation. That's an example of a middle-aged man who may have been perceived by his neighbors, and by an objective onlooker, to have sort of finished his life and he could have stagnated in his little town. But he wasn't finished in his own mind. He had this big dream, and it was never too late for him, so he walked off and he did it". - Neil Peart, Canadian Composer, April 1986
T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965
Not only did his poetry inspire Neil with specific lyrics, his style of writing also partially inspired the writing style used for "red lenses".
"In a deeper level, without wanting to get too profound about it, but it's a style of writing which I've been wanting to get towards, which I've read with John Dos Passos is a prose writer who exemplifies it, T.S. Eliot is a poet who exemplifies it, where they throw so much at you, so many images and so many pictures that are all individually beautiful, not necessarily interconnecting, but they just come at you and they come at you, and all the way through it your head is spinning, and you think, 'oh, I'm not understanding this, why am I not understanding this, am I stupid?' And then at the end of it, you sort of put it aside and after the dizziness subsides, you're left with something. You're left with something beautiful. And when one will mention that book to you or that poem to you that story to you, then this beautiful thing, indescribable, intangible, image which you have drawn out of all that comes into your mind. So I just, just wanted to get towards that style of writing where its carefully refined, each little image is worked out so that on its own its something, but all together its a little bit obscure and a little bit vague, so you almost seem to be saying nothing, but in fact you're saying, you know, a great many things. This was probably the hardest song I have ever worked on, it just, in spite of the pleasure it gave me and how much I enjoyed doing it, it went through so many rewrites and changed its title so many times, everything about it just went through constant refinement, each little image was juggled around and I just fought for the right words to put each little phrase together and to make it sound exactly right to me, so that it sounded a little bit nonsensical. I wanted to get that kind of Jabberwocky, uh, word games thing happening with it and also there's little things going on that your mind sort of catches without identifying, like a lot of poetic devices. You take the, uh, number of words that sound the same or start with the same letter or whatever, you just certainly don't start in the middle of it and go, "oh, that's alliteration!" But those words fall upon your ear in a melodious way, or if you're reading them they, they run through your mind in a rhythmic and attractive way." Neil Peart, Jim Ladd "Innerview", 1984
"'Wilderness of mirrors' is a phrase from T.S.Eliot's 'Gerontion,' and was also applied by former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton to describe the world of espionage-hence the twist on 'Double Agent,' reflecting the clandestine workings of dreams and the subconcious. Disinformation or intelligence? Let the mirror decide." - Neil Peart, "Reflections in a Wilderness of Mirrors"
"Power House Mechanic Working On Steam Pump", photograph by Lewis Hine, 1920
The "Workin' Them Angels" illustration found in the Snakes & Arrows linernotes was created by Hugh Syme with the assistance of George Eastman House, who supplied the original Lewis Hine photograph on which the illustration is based.
"Nessun Dorma", from Turandot, Giacomo Puccini, 1924
Neil Peart says partial inspiration for "Everyday Glory" came from "an opera piece I've always loved, by Puccini, called Nessun dorma, which an Italian girl told me translates as 'nobody sleeps,' and I thought, ah, what a beautiful phrase." - Neil Peart, Canadian Press, October 21, 1993
The Last Mile, August 17, 1932
This film was used on tour to introduce the song "Lock and Key", according to Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", 1988. The film is about a supposedly innocent man sent to Death Row just before an inmate riot. He gets involved in the riot even as his friends on the outside try to prove his innocence.
John Dos Passos, 1896-1970
The title of three Rush songs come from his writings. His style of writing also partially inspired the writing style used by Neil for "red lenses" (see above entry for T.S. Eliot).
"John Dos Passos was known as a radical left-wing writer in the '20s. 'The Camera Eye' was directly influenced by him." Neil Peart - Modern Drummer, April 1984
"I am a big fan of Dos Passos' stylistic ability, his poetic approach to prose, but the ideas presented in the songs are quite different from those which he exemplified." - Neil Peart, "Backstage Club Newsletter", January 1988
Ernest Hemingway, July 21, 1899 - July 2, 1961
"...the writer [in "Losing It"] is old Ernest. I believe that the expression 'grace under pressure' was actually coined by Dorothy Parker, to describe the attributes of a Hemingway hero, but I'm not sure. In any case, it seemed to describe the theme of the songs for that album, as well as the difficulties of life in the early '80s." Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", March 1990
"President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address", March 4, 1933
A line from the speech, "let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear...is fear itself...nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance", inspired the line "We've got nothing to fear - but fear itself?" in "The Weapon".
The Three Stooges, May 5, 1934-June 4, 1959
A derivative of "Three Blind Mice", Rush used the theme music from the television series and movie shorts as introductory music during the Signals through Hold Your Fire tours, and again for the Vapor Trails tour. A picture of the Stooges and their names is included in the Counterparts linernotes, and they are included in the "assistance, inspiration, comic relief" listing.
The Stars Look Down by A. J. Cronin, 1935
"...the title of a novel by A. J. Cronin, The Stars Look Down (which I've yet to read), seemed to express a fitting view of an uncaring universe." - Neil Peart, "Behind The Fire"
Of Time And The River by Thomas Wolfe, 1935
This novel inspired some of the lyrics in "How It Is" and "Ceiling Unlimited".
"Thomas Wolfe in 'How It Is' ('foot upon the stair, shoulder to the wheel') and 'Ceiling Unlimited' (Wolfe's title Of Time And The River and looking at a map of the Mississippi Delta suggested the 'winding like an ancient river' lines)." - Neil Peart, "Behind The Fire"
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, 1936
"This Daphne Du Maurier novel Jamaica Inn describes these people called 'The Wreckers' on the coast of the Cornwall in Britain. They would not would not only plunder shipwrecks, but they would actually put up a fake light and attract the ships in a storm to crash on their shores so they could loot them. It's just a shocking example of inhumanity, and it happens to be a true story. I wove it all of that into the story of this album." - Neil Peart, Rollingstone.com, June 12, 2012
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, April 12, 1936
The song "Cinderella Man" is based on this movie starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, directed by Frank Capra (who would later direct Its A Wonderful Life). In the film, Deeds (Cooper) is a modest man from Mandrake Falls, New Hampshire, who inherits a fortune, and travels rich to the city (New York City). A newspaper reporter (Arthur) is assigned to get the inside scoop, and after falsely befriending him, dubs him in the papers with the humiliating nickname "Cinderella Man". Before she can come clean about her betrayal, Deeds finds out and decides to use his fortune to "challenge the hungry "by creating a foundation which provides money for poor farmers, with the proviso that they work to get back on their feet. This leads his corrupt lawyers and distant family members to attempt to have him legally declared insane, using his penchant to "walk in the rain" without a hat as an example, calling him a "manic depressive", and his plan "hallucinations of grandeur". Deeds, a remake starring Adam Sandler and Wynona Ryder, was released June 21, 2002.
"'Cinderella Man' is a strong story written by Geddy with some help from Alex, and it concerns some of his reactions and feelings engendered by the film 'Mr. Deeds goes to Town'. This one features a very unusual (for us) middle instrumental section that might even be called (shudder) funky!" - Neil Peart, "A Condensed Rush Primer"
"Powerhouse" by Raymond Scott, 1937
This song inspired the "Monsters!" section of the song "La Villa Strangiato". Carl Stalling, Warner Brothers music director, used much of "Powerhouse" in his Warner Brothers cartoon scores in the 40's and 50's. Although the music wasn't originally written for cartoons, publishing rights for a limited catalog of Raymond Scott's titles were sold to Warner Brothers in 1943. Not only was "Powerhouse" used in the old "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" cartoons, it has been sampled more recently by the bands "Devo" and "They Might Be Giants"; recent cartoons including "The Simpsons", "Ren & Stimpy", "Duckman", "Batfink" and "Animaniacs", the Cartoon Network's theme song, and throughout the Disney film "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!" (without crediting Scott - Disney was threatened with a lawsuit and the matter was settled out of court). Rush didn't give credit to Scott for their use of "Powerhouse" either. By the time Raymond Scott's publisher notified the band's management of the infringement, the statute of limitations had expired on the challenge. But Rush's management, out of deference to Mr. and Mrs. Scott (Raymond was still alive at that point), offered a one-time "penance" payment, feeling it was the ethical thing to do. All involved were happy with the resolution, and Rush has no further financial obligations. Under the settlement, they were not required to accord Raymond Scott partial songwriting credit on the piece. For more information visit RaymondScott.com.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers, 1940
The title of this novel may have inspired the lyric "The heart of a lonely hunter, guards a dangerous frontier" in "Lock And Key".
"In the summer of 1976, in a cottage in Soutern Ontario, I was working on the lyrics for a song called "Xanadu." (I didn't have any opium, but I might have smoked a little hash.) The song idea was originally inspired by the movie Citizen Kane, and its main character, Charles Foster Kane, and I had planned to build something on that theme. At the beginning of the movie, the opening lines from 'Kubla Khan' were quoted, 'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree.' As research, I looked up the poem, and I was so powerfully impressed by it that the poem took over the song. In the end, there was entirely too much 'honey dew' in it - too much Coleridge, that is to say - and though musically the song was one of our earliest big 'epics,' I never cared much for the lyrics...Another line from 'Kubla Khan,' 'woman wailing for her demon-lover,' turned up almost twenty yeaers later as 'Daughter of a demon-lover,' in our song 'Animate,'...though the Coleridge connection hadn't occured to me before." - Neil Peart, Roadshow
"With 'Xanadu', even though it's loosely based on Coleridge's Kubla Khan, it's also very influenced by Citizen Kane. If you look at the opening of the newsreel of Citizen Kane, they quote that poem: [he adopts the opening tone of the original voiceover] 'In Xanadu the pleasure dome did decree...' and that whole sort of animated opening to that, so I kept that in mind when we created the soundscape to the opening of that song. I always had that visual in my brain as we were making the music, I always had a connection to that whole thing. They're intertwined for me." - Geddy Lee, Prog, December 2017
Ayn Rand, February 2, 1905 - March 6, 1982
"Our album 2112 happened to be based around, in a coincidental way, the circumstances of one of her stories, I gave due credit to that. I realized that, as our story progressed about the re-discovery of creative music in the future, her story happened to be about the rediscovery of electricity in some totalitarian future. I didn't set out to adapt that story into a musical format. But the story of 2112 developed, and THEN I realized that it paralleled the circumstances of her story." - Neil Peart, Modern Drummer, April 1984
"When we were looking for a name for our label we went through all our song titles and the dictionary. It's really difficult to find a title for anything that you know you're going to have to look at for the rest of your life. Anthem seemed to be a concise and positive statement of what we wanted to accomplish." - Neil Peart, Georgia Straight, September 8-15, 1977
"...the name of our record company, which is Anthem Records in Canada, came from that song. Neil was in an Ayn Rand period, so he wrote the song about being very individual. We thought we were doing something that was different from everybody else." - Alex Lifeson, Guitar Legends, Spring 1997
"I think everything I do has Howard Roark [hero of The Fountainhead] in it, you know, as much as anything. The person I write for is Howard Roark." - Neil Peart, Creem, June 1981
"Howard Roark stood as a role model for me - as exactly the way I already was living. Even at that tender age  I already felt that. And it was intuitive or instinctive or inbred stubbornness or whatever; but I had already made those choices and suffered for them." - Neil Peart, Liberty, September 1997
"To a 20-year-old struggling musician, The Fountainhead was a revelation, an affirmation, an inspiration. Although I would eventually grow into and, largely, out of Ayn Rand's orbit, her writing was still a significant stepping-stone, or way-station, for me, a black-and-white starting point along the journey to a more nuanced philosophy and politics. Most of all, it was the notion of individualism that I needed - the idea that what I felt, believed, liked, and wanted was important and valid." - Neil Peart, Traveling Music
"I think there are a lot of messages Ayn Rand's writing puts out there. And some of them are messages about individualism, and some of them are interpreted as very much a political statement of non-government involvement. For us, her point of individualism was more appropriate and influential in terms of compromise as an artist?her story of The Fountainhead, in particular, is a story of an architect who refuses to compromise his values and his aesthetics. And when you're a young band that's in a greedy business like the music business, and there's so much pressure on you to compromise your music and write three-minute love songs, when you read a book like that it has a profound effect on you in terms of reinforcing your belief that it should be about making the music you want to make, and not the music someone else wants you to make in order to line their pockets." - Geddy Lee PasteMagazine.com, December 18, 2015
In "Good News First", Neil Peart appears to cast off this premise with the lyric "What happened to your old Benevolent universe? You know the one with stars that revolve around you, beaming down full of promises to bring good news."
W.H. Auden, 1907-1973
"I was fiddling around with the music. I wanted to have something on the record that was a little different than the other songs. I really wanted to have some variety overall on the record. I thought it'd be kinda cool to do a song which I didn't actually play guitar on, and just did all the programming. I thought, also, once the music had been written, that it'd be kinda fun to do a spoken word thing - sort of a pseudo-beatnik kinda reading....I opened a book that I had of [Auden's] collected poems to 'Victor', and I read it through. Although 'Victor' the poem is very, very long, I condensed it for the song. It really caught the essence of what the record was about, dealing with the dark side of love and how it can push you to do things that are pretty horrific. So, it seemed to suit the record quite well." - Alex Lifeson, "Rockline", January 15, 1996
"Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition", December 7, 1941
The phrase "pray, and pass the ammunition", referenced in "The Way The Wind Blows" from Snakes & Arrows comes to us from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Chaplain Howell Forgy, aboard the U.S.S. New Orleans in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, urged the soldiers on with the saying "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition". The phrase soon became the title of a popular song.
The Manhattan Project, 1941-1945
The inspiration behind the song of the same name, formally known as the "Manhattan Engineering District", this was the combined effort of the United States with assistance from the United Kingdom and Canada ("all the brightest boys, gathered from across the land") to develop the first nuclear weapons ("big sticks") during World War II. The research took place "in the secrecy of the desert sand" of Los Alamos, New Mexico, as well as Hanford, Washington and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Project culminated in the detonation of atomic bombs on August 6 over Hiroshima (dropped by the airplane named the Enola Gay "on that August day...") and then on August 9 over Nagasaki, which led to the surrender of Japan less than one month later ("shot down the rising sun").
Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, April 1943 - April 15, 1945
"Perhaps the most well-known of Holocaust-influenced rock songs as it first appeared on the band's hit 1984 album Grace Under Pressure, and has been a staple of the band's live shows ever since. The seeds for this harrowing rocker were planted 60 years ago in April of 1945 when British soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Rush lead singer Geddy Lee's mother, Mary Rubenstein, was among the survivors. [Webmaster note: among those that did not survive: Anne Frank and her sister Margot.] 'I once asked my mother her first thoughts upon being liberated,' Lee said. 'She didn't believe (liberation) was possible. She didn't believe that if there was a society outside the camp how they could allow this to exist... ' Lee related the story to band drummer and lyricist Neil Peart and also wrote the music. Peart came up with lines such as: 'Are we the last ones left alive?/ Are we the only human beings to survive?' 'The whole album,' Lee said, 'is about being on the brink and having the courage and strength to survive.'" - Rock 'N' Roll Never Forgets Holocaust's Horror, Palm Beach Post, May 6, 2005
Donna Reed, 1921-1986
With a career spanning over 40 years in both film and television (likely best known today for her role opposite Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life (1946), Ms Reed, or more specifically, her hairdoo, partially inspired the woman on the cover of Permanent Waves:
"Let's try something with Donna Reed, with her permanent Toni hairdo, and have her walking out of a tidal wave situation.' Neil gave me this blank look and said, 'Get out of here.' The following day, he asked me to consider doing just that because he'd discussed it with the band, and they'd all thought it was more likely for a cover than the serious approach." - Hugh Syme, Creem, 1983
Ferrari 166MM Barchetta, 1947-1953
As seen in the "Red Barchetta" live video from Exit...Stage Left, this was the first production Ferrari; only thirty-eight of these hand built masterpieces were produced, from 1947 to 1953. The first "sports car" (as opposed to a race car) ever shown on a Ferrari chassis, the 166 got its name from the 166 cubic centimeters of capacity from each of its twelve cylinders. The MM signifies the Ferrari win of 1949 in the legendary, but grueling, Mille Miglia. With top speeds of 130mph, arguably the fastest sports car in the world at the time, the 166MM Barchetta (phonetically pronounced "Barketta", meaning "little boat") won 80 overall or class victories between April 1948 and December 1953, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1949.
"a red Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta (the 'hero' of an old Rush song, 'Red Barchetta')". - Neil Peart, Ghost Rider, pg. 132
The Chicago Tribune, November 3, 1948
This issue of the newspaper was used on the original Permanent Waves cover. When Harry Truman ran against Thomas Dewey for president of the United States, Truman lost in most of the states in the early returns. It looked like Dewey was going to win and the Chicago Tribune released a paper containing the erroneous headline early the next morning, November 3, 1948. Rush had to make changes to the headline on the album cover.
"There are always the inevitable last minute crises, such as the Chicago Daily Tribune being still so embarrassed about their 'Dewey defeats Truman' error of more than thirty years ago that they actually refused to let us use it on the cover!" - Neil Peart, "Personal Waves, The Story Of An Album"
"We got a threat from the legal people at the Chicago Tribune, who are still embarrassed about their over-anxious printing of that headline...anything that pertains to that headline, according to the Chicago Tribune, is an embarrassment, and is subject to litigation if we were to print up any facet of it. To boot, Coca-Cola asked that we strip out their billboard way off in the background because it was too close to a cotton-clad mons pubis." - Hugh Syme, Creem, 1983
General Electric "Locomotive" Television, 1949
The "Locomotive" style Bakelite GE television is pictured in the foreground of the Power Windows album cover (the two in the rear are 1958 "Predicta" televisions, see below entry). Produced in the United States as GE model 800, it was also made in Canada as Canadian GE model C2505.
You Bet Your Life, the television game show, October 1950-1960
Starring comedian Groucho Marx, this game show inspired the title of the Rush song of the same name.
"...even if you try to take the sting out of a random universe by embracing the prefab structure of Faith, you still have to gamble that it's the right one. Say the secret word and win a hundred dollars. For anyone who hasn't seen Groucho Marx's game show "You Bet Your Life," I mean that no one but Groucho knows the secret word, and one guess is as good as another. You might have lived a good long life as an exemplary Christian only to be met at the gates of heaven by Mohammed...Anything can happen. That is called fate." - Neil Peart, "Row the Boats"
Twin Arrows Trading Post, ~1950-1998
In his book Roadshow, Neil wrote about Route 66, the "mother road" which stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles and was effectively replaced by the Interstate Highway system. Neil's travels may have led to the use of the arrows found next to the road in the Snakes & Arrows album art, which are nearly identical to those found at the famous "Twin Arrows Trading Post", located 20 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona.
"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas, 1952
This poem inspired a line in "Red Tide".
"Rabbit Seasoning", the Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies Cartoon, September 20, 1952
Daffy Duck is heard saying "No more for me thanks, I'm driving" at the end of "Red Barchetta" during the 2008 leg of the Snakes And Arrows Tour, as captured on the Snakes & Arrows Live video. This is from the memorable cartoon where Elmer Fudd goes hunting, and Bugs Bunny ends up getting the better of Daffy.
Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien, July 1954-October 1955
This epic fantasy adventure influenced the songs "Rivendell" and "The Necromancer" (as well as many other songs of the era such as Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On", "Battle of Evermore" and "Misty Mountain Hop"). One segment of the story follows three travelers (Frodo, Sam & Gollum) as they enter the evil land of Mordor to overthrow "The Necromancer". In the story, "Rivendell" is the elven home "where the Misty Mountains rise...where the dark lord cannot go". The third book in the trilogy, Return of the King, may have also inspired Part III of "The Necromancer: Return of the Prince", as after the Necromancer is defeated his slaves in the Dark Tower are "freed...from the labyrinth below".
Brigadoon, September 8, 1954
The opening lyric of "Ceiling Unlimited" was likely inspired by a quote from this film, "It's not the heat, it's the humanity".
"Not Fade Away" by Buddy Holly, October 27, 1957
Rush's first single, this was the only cover song ever ever officially recorded by Rush until the release of Feedback in 2004.
Philco Predicta Televisions, 1958
Two of the three televisions pictured on the Power Windows album cover (the third is a 1949 General Electric "Locomotive" TV, see previous entry) are "Pedestal" and "Seventeener 'Debutante'" Predictas, introduced in 1958. Products of the late 1950's space age craze following the launch of Sputnik in 1957, although the original manufacturer, Philco, went bankrupt in 1962 (Ford bought its assests), the Predicta trademark is now held by Telstar Electronics who create new color Predicta televisions with modern parts.
"Bad Boy" by Larry Williams, 1959
Larry Williams wrote and recorded the original incarnation of this song later performed by Rush during their 1974 tour. The song was also performed by the Beatles on Beatles VI, 1965, and on their singles compilation, Past Masters.
Milton Banana, 1935-1999
Not necessarily an inspiration, Alex Lifeson introduced Neil Peart as Milton Banana during the Rush In Rio live performance. As performed by Peart after his "introduction", Milton Banana is the musician who invented the bossa nova drumming style which mixed popular Brazilian rhythms (Samba) with Jazz harmony constructions. In 1959, Milton Banana debuted as a recording artist, participating in João Gilberto's first album, "Chega de Saudade" ("No More Blues"), the first bossa nova recording (Gilberto later collaborated with Stan Getz on Getz/Gilberto, 1963, which included the most popular release of the song "The Girl from Ipanema" [see separate entry below]).
The Twilight Zone, October 2, 1959-June 19, 1964
The album "Caress of Steel" is dedicated to the memory of this television series' creator, Rod Serling, who passed away on June 28, 1975, less than three months before the album's release. The song "The Twilight Zone" was inspired by the show's introduction and two episodes, while a third episode may have partially inspired "Body Electric":
"The new album [Caress of Steel] is dedicated to Rod Serling, because he was one of our great teachers and at times the band tends to be very Rod-like." - Geddy Lee, St. Catharines Standard, October 10, 1975
"In my early years with Rush, in the mid '70s, when we first played in the Los Angeles or New York areas, we were thrilled to find television channels that still showed reruns of The Twilight Zone. Our youthful fascination with the show was rekindled, and we were inspired to dedicate one of our early albums (Caress of Steel, 1975) to Rod Serling, and we wrote a song for our 2112 album, in 1976, titled after the show and in tribute to it. The song included references to two episodes in particular, 'Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up,' and 'Stopover In A Quiet Town.'" - Neil Peart, "Magic Realism Comes To The Suburbs"
This pink cartoon lion is responsible for naming "Exit...Stage Left". Originally appearing in 1959 as a minor character on other Hanna-Barbera cartoons, the character proved to have such appeal that he was given his own segment on The Yogi Bear Show when it premiered in 1960. Snagglepuss's favorite sayings were "Exit stage left" and "Heavens to Murgatroid."
"The whole title came from a character in an American cartoon called Snagglepuss. He' a great little creature, a lion, and every time there's trouble he flees, uttering 'Exit...stage left' or 'Exit...stage right'. But the fact of the matter was that the album cover picture was taken from stage left. And coincidentally that's the direction in which Snagglepuss runs most of the time." - Geddy Lee, Sounds #66, November 1981
"We wanted to have (cartoon character) Snagglepuss's tail on there. You know, 'Exit Stage Left', with a picture of just his tail. Forget it! They wanted all kinds of legal hassles and tons of money." - Neil Peart, Jam! Showbiz, October 16, 1996
The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth, 1960
"The plot [of Clockwork Angels] draws from Voltaire's Candide, with nods to John Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor, Michael Ondaatje and Joseph Conrad for 'The Anarchist,' Robertson Davies and Herbert Gold for 'Carnies,' Daphne du Maurier for 'The Wreckers,' Cormac McCarthy and early Spanish explorers in the American Southwest for 'Seven Cities of Gold'." - Neil Peart, Classic Rock Special Clockwork Angels Edition, June 11, 2012
Hurricane Carla, photographs by Flip Schulke, September 11, 1961
As credited in the album's linernotes, the background scene pictured on the Permanent Waves cover was taken by Flip Schulke. The scene is Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, Texas, photographed during Hurricane Carla on September 11th, 1961. Hurricane Carla was the third most destructive disaster in U.S. history, leaving 43 dead. The building on the left of the cover is Murdoch's Bathhouse and pier; the cover photo shows waves rushing under the building and splashing over the Galveston Seawall before the building was eventually destroyed by the hurricane. Although the original Schulke photo is unavailable, this photo also taken by Schulke during the hurricane shows nearly the same same scene but from a slightly altered position. This photo was taken facing to the right and clearly displays the billboards down the street on the Pleasure Pier which are also found on the cover. Click here for the most recent view of this scene in Google Maps streetview.
Fireball XL5, the television show, October 28, 1962-October 27, 1963
This marionette starred children's television show inspired the R-30 Tour second set movie, "That Darn Dragon"; click here for a video.
"...That Darn Dragon, would open the second set, with puppet animation of three bobble-head dolls of us (in '70s regalia of long hair and kimonos) doing battle against a puppet version of the dragon from Vapor Trails. It was a little like an old Japanese monster movie, but with puppets - Godzilla meets 'Fireball XL-5' (which Geddy and Alex and I used to watch every morning in the rented house we shared in Chelsea during an '80s recording project)." - Neil Peart, Roadshow
"Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, August 25, 1962
Rush directly sampled this song in "Limbo", specifically the chains and bubbles at the beginning as well as the spoken words "Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?" and "Mmmm, Mash goooood".
"It's from the ('60s novelty hit) Monster Mash! That's another weird thing. I'd been stuck on Monster Mash and we were trying to use the Internet to get the words because I couldn't remember them. One of the guys on the production team is an Internet preacher. So I said, "Here's your chance, go get these lyrics for me". Well, he went onto the Internet and found the lyrics -- but they were wrong! In all the jokes of that, our co-producer, Peter Collins, went out and bought the CD that had a compilation of some funny songs like that. We got to listening to it, thinking about how funny it was and decided to put some samples of it in there. That's Igor going "Goo mash goo". We had to get special permission and pay money and everything. You think it's so strange, when you just want to make a joke, and people want you to get permission and pay money." - Neil Peart, Jam! Showbiz, October 16, 1996
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, 1962
This book co-inspired the name of the starship in "Cygnus X-1".
"Rocinante was Don Quixote's horse, and also the name of John Steinbeck's truck in Travels With Charley. I just liked it, that's all." Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", March 1990
"Garota de Ipanema" ("The Girl from Ipanema") by Antonio Carlos Jobim (music) and Vinicius de Moraes (Portuguese lyrics [English lyrics later written by Norman Gimbel]), March 1962
Not necessarily an inspiration, during the Rush In Rio live performance, Alex Lifeson introduced Geddy Lee as "The Boy from Ipanema", a reference to the song "The Girl from Ipanema", which Geddy provides a snippet of immediately following his introduction. Undoubtedly the best-known bossa nova song ever written, this song was a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s and is often claimed to be the second-most recorded popular song in history, topped only by The Beatles' "Yesterday". The best-known version is from the 1963 album Getz/Gilberto, performed by Stan Getz (saxophone) and Astrud (vocals) and João Gilberto (vocals, guitar). The inspiration for the song was Helô Pinheiro (b. 1945), a then 18-year-old girl who lived on Montenegro street in the fashionable Ipanema district of Rio de Janiero. Every day, she would stroll past the popular "Veloso" bar-cafe on the way to the beach, attracting the attention of regulars Jobim and Moraes. The beauty never received a cent for serving as their muse, and later posed for Playboy in 1987 at the age of 42, and again with her daughter Ticiane Pinheiro in 2003, at the age of 58.
"...for [Rush In] Rio when we wanted to use 'The Girl From Ipanema', and they wanted something like forty thousand dollars just to use it. And our publishing guys said: 'Do you want to reconsider and use something else?' And we didn't because it's a highlight of the show, Alex introduces us and I play a little and then Geddy goes into '...Ipanema', so we had to have it whatever it cost." - Neil Peart, Classic Rock, October 2004
Stan Getz, 1927-1991
Not necessarily an inspiration, Alex Lifeson introduced himself as Stan Getz during the Rush In Rio live performance. One of the all-time great tenor saxophonists, Getz is well known for popularizing the bossa nova style worldwide. His biggest selling album was 1963's Getz/Gilberto, a collaboration with composer/pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarist/singer João Gilberto, which included the best known version of the song "The Girl From Ipanema" (see separate entry above).
"Wipe Out" by The Surfaris, 1963
Rush performed a short cover of this #2 hit througout the Presto tour and the first leg of the Test For Echo tour.
"A young drummer's necessary calling-card in those days  - the first thing other kids asked was, 'Can you play "Wipeout?"'" - Neil Peart, Traveling Music.
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, January 29, 1964
This Stanley Kubrick film contains the famous scene of Slim Pickens riding a nuclear bomb, an obvious inspiration for the "Distant Early Warning" video, which featured Geddy's son Julian in a similar role.
"I don't remember too much, except sitting on this rocket thing as if I was riding it for a really long time. Neil let me play his drums, but I had to be REALLY careful!" - Julian Weinrib, Chemistry
Gilligan's Island, the television show, September 26, 1964 - April 17, 1967
One of the characters on this American sitcom about seven castaways provided Neil Peart with one of his most memorable nicknames:
"An even earlier nickname given to me, 'The Professor,' had an an equally ironic root. It was not, as many strangers assumed, some reflection of admiration from the Guys at Work for my intellect and learning. Oh no. Nor did it reflect an actual university degree, as some rumors held. No, the Guys at Work were simply equating my demeanor with the character on 'Gilligan's Island,' played by Russell Johnson." - Neil Peart, News Weather and Sports, February 2014
The T.A.M.I. Show, December 29, 1964
This concert film includes performances by Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Supremes, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and more. Neil explained in his book Traveling Music that "another movie around the same time was a much stronger musical influence on me - in fact, in retrospect, it was the influence. The T.A.M.I. Show, or "Teen Age Music International..."
Get Smart, the television show, September 18, 1965-May 15, 1970
The theme song and an audio clip from this television series were used during the Grace Under Pressure tour. The clip was used to introduce the song "New World Man", while the theme music was played as the concert came to an end.
The Beatles, 1960-1970
Three songs by the Beatles (one cover and two originals) were covered by Rush (only one in its entirety). Although only Bad Boy was covered in its entirety, nearly included on Feedback, Lifeson could be heard playing bits of "I Feel Fine" followed by "Day Tripper" at the end of "The Trees" on the R30 tour.
"Well, I remember hearing the beginning of 'I Feel Fine' by the Beatles. There's a little bit of feedback that rings out in the beginning, and I thought that was the coolest thing I've ever heard [laughs]. Also the riff to 'Day Tripper'..." - Alex Lifeson, regarding songs that inspired him to play guitar, Guitar School, May 1990
"We sort of toyed with the idea of including a Beatles song [on Feedback], or two Beatles songs - maybe 'I Feel Fine' or 'Day Tripper'. We sort of jam out on that a little bit..." - Alex Lifeson, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 16, 2004
The Yardbirds, 1963-1968
The first song Geddy Lee ever learned on guitar was "For Your Love" by The Yardbirds, and two of their songs were covered by Rush on Feedback.
"My first guitar was a an acoustic guitar, I don't even know what brand name it was, but it had two lovely palm trees painted on it! I think a friend of mine, I guess at the time I was about 11, showed me a couple of guitar chords and from that I figured out the chords to a song called 'For Your Love' by the Yardbirds. That was the first song I figured out on a guitar. That was the beginning of all my problems." - Geddy Lee, WPHD Philadelphia, November 14, 1987
"'Heart Full of Soul', I think, is one of the best things we've ever recorded. Makes me wonder if we should have stopped recording." - Geddy Lee, The Columbus Dispatch, June 2, 2004
"'Heart Full of Soul'...That's a great arrangement we did of that. I know that's Geddy's favorite song." - Alex Lifeson, Kansas City Star, June 11, 2004
"The Drum Also Waltzes" by Max Roach on Drums Unlimited, 1966
This drum solo in 3/4 time was first heard by Neil Peart when performed by progressive rock drummer Bill Bruford in the mid 80's. Peart later incorporated "The Drum Also Waltzes" into his Rush concert drum solo, and also performed it on the cd accomanyment to the book Drum Lessons With The Greats Part 2.
"The Sounds Of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel, January 17, 1966
Rush parodied this song in "The Spirit of Radio".
"This is where a sense of humor comes into it. I was sitting there thinking of the conclusion of the song and the parody came into my mind. And I thought, 'Well, either this is very stupid or it's very great.' But all it says is...salesman as artists I can see as an ideal, but they have no place telling us what to play onstage and they have no place in the recording studio telling us how to write songs...any more than a car salesman." - Neil Peart, Creem Magazine, 1982
"Paint It, Black" by The Rolling Stones on Aftermath, April 15, 1966
Rush performed a short instrumental version of this track during the "Molson Canadian Rocks For Toronto" concert to benefit Toronto's SARS-depressed economy (aka Sarsstock), July 30, 2003, at Downsview Park in Toronto. Headlined by The Rolling Stones, the concert was attended by approximately 450,000 people.
"[I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)] was the second single I bought. One summer when I was 12, I went to Yugoslavia to visit my relatives. I took one record with me - this one. I played it for my relatives because I wanted my cousins to hear it. The Stones had that bluesy, dirty, bad-boy image, which I much preferred to cleaner-sounding bands like the Beatles or the Searchers. The Stones were more dangerous than other bands of the Sixties. It looked like they had more fun than the Beatles - like they stayed up later." - Alex Lifeson, Guitar World, July 2006
"7 & 7 Is" by Love, released as a single in July 1966, later included on Da Capo, January 1967
Covered by Rush on Feedback, this was Love's only Top 40 hit. The song drew inspiration from a high school sweetheart of Love's Arthur Lee, Anita "Pretty" Billings, who shared his birthday, March 7. It also describes Lee's frustration at teenage life - the reference to "in my lonely room I'd sit, my mind in an ice cream cone" being to wearing (in reality or metaphorically) a dunce's cap.
"One of the weirdest songs ever written. Pure surrealism. Alex and I loved this song when we were kids, especially the chord progression. The lyric is probably the goofiest thing I've sung in my life. We had some fun with it, because it's lightning fast, and Neil plays one single snare roll from the beginning of the song right to the end." - Geddy Lee, Bass Player, Aug/Sep 2004
Buffalo Springfield, 1966-1968
Two songs by Buffalo Springfiled are covered by Rush on Feedback:
"[For What It's Worth] was the first rock song that had a big influence on me. I remember hearing it on the radio in my dad's car when I was a kid. Buffalo Springfield were unlike the other bands of the 'San Francisco sound'; they were more country sounding. Stephen Stills and Neil Young trade leads on this one. I like Young's very fast vibrato and edgy, truncated playing style, particularly on his soloing, whereas Stills' sound is sweeter and smoother. This is still one of my all-time favorite songs." - Alex Lifeson, Guitar World, July 2006
"Gonna Roll The Bones" by Fritz Leiber, 1967
This short story, winner of both the 1967 Nebula Award and 1968 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, gave inspiration to the album and song title "Roll The Bones". In the story, a man plays craps with "Death", a skeleton (likely the inspiration for the dancing skeleton in the "Roll The Bones" video). Neil made a reference to it in an interview, stating he has scraps of paper with phrases on them, and one of them was "roll the bones".
"Summertime Blues", performed by Blue Cheer on Vincebus Eruptum, January 1968
Although originally written and recorded by Eddie Cochran, along with the version by The Who (see separate entry below), this is the version (along with The Who's version) which influenced Rush's cover on Feedback.
"I've never really heard Eddie Cochran's version. My first exposure was Blue Cheer's version. It was a pivotal moment in my life, hearing his raucous, three-piece band with all this feedback." - Geddy Lee, Rocky Mountain News, June 28, 2004
"The song has been done by a lot of people, but the first version we all loved was by the Blue Cheer. In fact, we played a few Blue Cheer songs back in those days. They were our heroes because they were the loudest power trio in the history of power trios. We really dug that!" - Geddy Lee, Bass Player, Aug/Sep 2004
"We combined the Who's and Blue Cheer's versions of 'Summertime Blues,' and ended with me playing the innovative drum pattern from Blue Cheer's 'Just a Little Bit,' from Outsideinside, which I had never forgotten." - Neil Peart, RollingStone.com, October 21, 2009
2001: A Space Odyssey, April 6, 1968
This film's theme music, Richard Strauss' "Thus Spake Zarathrustra" (1890) (see separate entry above), was used by Rush as introductory music during the Counterparts and Test for Echo tours. A still image from the film was also used in the Test for Echo liner art. The image used in the liner art is not actaully found in the film, however, leading us to believe it is from a still production photo or an outtake.
"We had actually done a version of it with three astronauts on it to reflect our three guys that keep appearing here and there as the stone-carvers and the mountain-climbers, so we had a version of that with the Inukashauk under the light and the three astronauts in the foreground. They made us change it, so that's how that came about. They were quite amenable to letting us use the original image, which I thought was nice enough, but they wouldn't hear of us (altering it). We figured that image was still relevant to the song." - Neil Peart, Jam! Showbiz, October 16, 1996
"Dance To The Music", performed by funk/soul band Sly And The Family Stone on Dance To The Music, released April 27, 1968
On the Clockwork Angels tour, during "Wish Them Well" Rush performed an instrumental break of "Dance To The Music".
"Yet another grooving 4/4 beat can be found on the album's 11th track, 'Wish Them Well.' The song begins with Peart playing the snare on all four beats. As it turns out, Peart initially came up with this pattern without realizing its remarkable similarity to the groove on Sly And The Family Stone's 'Dance To The Music.' His bandmates pointed this similarity out to him, and it became a bit of a running joke. Peart admits, 'All my earliest bands were R&B, and we played all that kind of stuff. So I expect that it's a direct influence.'" - Drum!, October 2012
"'Crossroads' was the song you had to learn to play if you were in a band. Clapton just flies through that song." - Geddy Lee, Guitar World, January 2004
"I was heavily influenced by Hendrix and Pete Townsend of the Who, Jimmy Page was a big influence as were Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, particularly the Cream era." - Alex Lifeson, Epiphone.com, July 29, 2004
"Feedback also features versions of two songs which defined the heavy rock power trio tradition that gave birth to Rush - Cream's explosive take on Robert Johnson's 'Crossroads' and Blue Cheer's still-extreme rendition of Eddie Cochran's 'Summertime Blues.'" - Feedback Press Release, May 14, 2004
"His playing was revolutionary- extrovert, primal, and inventive. He set the bar for what rock drumming could be. I certainly emulated Ginger's approaches to rhythm- his hard, flat, percussive sound was very innovative. Everyone who came after built on that foundation. Every rock drummer since has been influenced in some way by Ginger- even if they don't know it." - Neil Peart regarding Cream drummer Ginger Baker, Rolling Stone Magazine, August 20, 2009
"I remember learning the solo to 'Spoonful' by Cream - that was a momentous day for me, when I actually got through that whole solo. I still remember it - what it looked like outside and the time of day and my crappy little record player, and just lifting the needle and putting it back and back and back until I got through that whole solo." Alex Lifeson on the album that inspired him most as a guitarist, Guitarist Summer 2012
"This is another song we covered on Feedback. Jeff Beck has a tone like no one else, maybe because he doesn't play with a pick very much. He also has a very strong left hand and can move the strings almost effortlessly. He's still cranking it out today, but he doesn't put out albums as often as I'd like; he works only when he feels like it. Before Truth, Beck was an integral part of the Yardbirds, and their recording of this song is great. But this version, with Rod Stewart's voice on top, adds a whole new element to the song. It sounds tougher, bigger and beefier." - Alex Lifeson, Guitar World, July 2006
"To me, Peter Townshend is one of the great hard rock songwriters. He just writes great songs. The most difficult thing is to write a really great song." Geddy Lee, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, March 1984
"To briefly recap a long history, The Who were my first favorite band. In my mid-teens, my bedroom was papered in magazine photographs and posters of The Who, hung with pop-art mobiles I made from photos of them, and my dresser had a Union Jack painted across its top (a triumph of clumsy masking and brushwork). In the middle of one wall I had painted the bass-drum logo from Keith Moon's famous 'Pictures of Lily' kit. (Another challenge for my mediocre artistry with paints.) I possessed every one of their singles, albums, and compilations, and every magazine that mentioned them. On the 'drumset' I made across my bed from old magazines, in the layout of Keith?s drums, I could play along with all of their songs. Around that time I had a high-school science teacher who was exasperated by my constant finger-tapping on my desk. When I said I couldn?t help it, he said, 'What are you?some kind of retard?' Seriously. He sentenced me to a detention in which I would have to sit and tap on a desk for one hour. I played Tommy from memory; the teacher had to leave the room. To the teenage me, Pete Townshend set the example for what a rock musician should be: 'He smashes guitars?and reads books!'...my first concert, at age fifteen, had been The Who, with the Troggs and the MC5 opening." - Neil Peart, "Where Words Fail, Music Speaks" (News, Weather, And Sports), June, 2012
"So much I learned from The Who, from Pete Townshend's sense of song construction, the way he put together verses and choruses and his excellent 'middle eights', and his grand thematic ambitions and intellectual approach to life and music - he smashed guitars and read books! - to Keith Moon's way of framing the vocal parts with his manic, yet instinctively musical drumming. The sheer, unrestrained energy he introduced to rock drumming was stunningly different from anything that came before." - Neil Peart, Traveling Music
"Pete Townsend for me was a huge influence. Because essentially they were a three-piece band and the way he structured his chords and took up a lot of space musically in the songs was really important to the way Rush developed. Geddy and Neil both were such active players and lot of the time we were all playing like crazy and it was too much and somebody had to reel it in and me being the faceless guy, I would do that." - Alex Lifeson, ExpressAndStar.com, March 8, 2011
"The Who were always a major influence on everything that Rush ever did, from the very start. While I'd never question the Beatles' right to be regarded as the greatest songwriters in history, nonetheless what Townshend did with the Who made more of a mark on us. What he's generated is an amazing body of work, with songs so diverse yet also connected by the fact that we're dealing with a man who wasn't ever afraid to give us a glimpse into his world, his thought process, (and) the way he dealt with his problems...(He) made me aware that it was OK to for a great musician to prove he wasn't infallible. That's great quality we've never forgotten in Rush...It's so hard to choose just one song to represent what he's all about. The choice would come down to 'Pictures Of Lily,' 'I Can't Explain,' or 'Run, Run, Run.' They're all so different, yet also have that unmistakable strand of Townshend running through them." - Alex Lifeson, Classic Rock "The 100 Greatest Songwriters", May 2011
"I think about covers from time to time, it would be fun. Of course, I would always choose a Who song if I was going to do that type of thing. That might be a fun thing for Rush down the road, to interpret somebody else's music." - Geddy Lee, Jam! Showbiz chat, Thursday, December 21, 2000
"In fact, going through this stuff for Feedback, I realized how much of me is Jeff Beck and especially Pete Townshend. When I list the people who inspired me as a kid, I usually say Eric Clapton and especially Jimmy Page. But really, I think Townsend's probably one of the biggest influences I ever had - really taught me something about chords and how to create a big guitar sound without turning it up really loud." - Alex Lifeson, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 16, 2004
"I rediscovered during the production of this Feedback project that Pete Townsend was really an enormous influence on me. He was such a consummate rhythm guitarist. That's kind of where I developed a lot of my approach to the way I look at the band. The Who were really a three piece band instrumentally, similar to us in that they had a very active rhythm section. Between Geddy and Neil - those guys play like crazy all the time so I always felt that it was important for the guitar to play a broader foundation role. I tried to develop a style that was more chord based with suspended chords, open chords, etc., just to create more noise underneath this activity of the rhythm. Townsend used to do that a lot. He had such a great strumming technique and he had a really great guitar sound too. You know he never had that over-distorted, 'buzzy' kind of heavy sound. It was always clear and 'ringy' with all the power in his right hand. The way he strummed, how hard he hit the strings affected his tone and that's something I think I've developed into my style over the years." - Alex Lifeson, Epiphone.com, July 29, 2004
"...the Who songs go on forever-just the greatest songs ever. We toyed with the idea of doing 'I Can See For Miles' [on Feedback]." - Geddy Lee, Fender.com - December 20, 2005
"I was in Ottawa, Canada, the capital of Canada, and we were receiving what's called the Governor General of Arts Award. It was a wonderful event and it was this gala and one of the surprise guests that night was Pete Townshend, who had come to perform with Dez McAnuff, who also won an arts award that evening...I'd never met him and Pete Townshend is one of my real, real heroes. I can honestly say I wouldn't be here talking to you if he hadn't written those great songs for the Who. They just inspired me to be the best writer I could be...In the back of my mind, I was going 'Holy crap! I'm meeting Pete Townshend'." - UltimateClassicRock.com, June 5, 2012
"A big influence on me when I was starting out was Pete Townshend and he was such a consummate rhythm guitarist. I gravitated to Jimmy Page, Hendrix, and Clapton for soloing, but there was something about the way Townshend strummed the guitar that was very acoustic-like. 'Lakeside Park' is an example of that. It was written on an acoustic guitar so that strumming came naturally. It translates to an electric well." - Alex Lifeson, Guitar Player, November 2012
"...Keith Moon's 'Pictures Of Lily' kit, the famous one that was painted in the panels around it on a piano black background, it was a tribute to that because these are my dream drums. I always try to keep in touch with my inner 16-year-old. That's the first concert I ever went to, he was playing those. So [the DW kit] became partly a homage to Keith Moon, to myself at 16. All of that became part of the thinking that evolved into the finish." - Neil Peart, Drum! Magazine, July 17, 2004
"There were so many other Who songs that we wanted to do, but there was something about 'The Seeker' that we all liked, and I think it's because in our own songs we never play that slowly! We're always so hyper, and there's something about that song and that feel that's just so classic." - Geddy Lee, Bass Player, Aug/Sep 2004
"What an amazing guitar sound on [Live at Leeds]! And [Pete] Townshend even plays a few solos, which he usually never does. Was there anybody better at expressing themselves through power chords? I just loved that record, and I know Alex [Lifeson, Rush guitarist] did, too. Every time we jammed as a young band we would wind up jamming parts of that record." - Geddy Lee, Guitar World, January 2004
"I was a big Who fan. I still am. Like a lot of people, it started with My Generation for me. I used to go up to Sam The Record Man in town to get my music. That's where I got Live At Leeds one Saturday morning. And the bass in 'My Generation', I mean, John Entwistle, my god, he was such an absolute influence on me and his playing on Leeds is unsurpassable. I'm a big fan of 'Summertime Blues' on that album, which we covered, to a large degree because of their version. I got to see The Who in Winnipeg, Manitoba of all places. They were incredible, but Moon was already gone by then. I never saw them with him, I'm very sad to say. No matter what they do, Pete Townshend's writing has always been at the very top of his craft, the quintessential combination of heavy and melodic. Even today, Live At Leeds sounds so alive, it's a real piece of that period of rock. It's like a bootleg, the artwork, the tone; that was their attitude I think. It was raw: ?Here it is'.? - Geddy Lee, Teamrock.com, June 30, 2016
Led Zeppelin, 1968-1980
"Led Zeppelin had such a big impact, Jimmy Page in particular. I loved his style of guitar playing, I loved what he represented, I loved the looseness in his playing ... it was structured, yet it walked along an edge, that I found so full of life and so exciting." - Alex Lifeson, CNN.com, June 3, 2002
"I queued for hours to see those guys in Toronto. It was August 30, 1969, and the Mighty Monday rock night. The three of us who were in the band at the time got about three rows from the front and during the gig Jimmy [Page] smiled at me. I was just a normal guy from the suburbs trying to learn every Led Zep note and the great Jimmy Page had smiled at me. It was a life changing moment. I got to meet him and Robert Plant for the first time in 1998 - again in Toronto. They are such great guys." - Alex Lifeson, Newcastle Journal Live, October 4, 2007 [Webmaster Note: It appears Alex has his dates mixed up, although he appears to have said this date off-the-cuff nearly 30 years after the fact. August 30, 1969 was in fact a Saturday, not a Monday as Alex remembers it, and according to Ledzeppelin.com, on that date LZ played a concert in Queens; LZ's second Toronto performance was at the Rock Pile on Monday, August 18th.]
"And we met Jimmy Page, and I was so excited. It was the summer of ninety-eight. They sounded so good and Page played so well. We were in the dressing room talking to them and they were so gracious. We were talking to them right up until they went on stage. With us no one's allowed in the dressing room half an hour before the show, with them we were chatting, and the crew came to get them and we walked with them toward the stage. We stood by the monitor board on Jimmy's side, it was a real treat." - Alex Lifeson, Classic Rock, October 2004
"Of any guitarist, Jimmy Page was my biggest influence. I wanted to look, think and play like him. Zeppelin had a heavy influence on Rush during our early days. Page's loose style of playing showed an immense confidence. And there are no rules to his playing. I met Page at a Page/Plant concert in Toronto, in 1998. I was acting like a kid, all googly eyed. I was freaking out and my hands were shaking. I was so thrilled to meet him because his work meant so much to me." - Alex Lifeson, Guitar World, July 2006
"Certainly, that first Led Zeppelin album (1969) was pretty spectacular, and the more I hear that album lately the more I appreciate it. We don't have records like that anymore, where a record comes out and everybody just goes crazy over it, and it seems to change things and creates a whole new direction. Maybe it was because I was 15 years old and that's the kind of music that I always wanted to hear. It just really left a huge mark on me. For me personally, Electric Ladyland (1968) was a real turnaround record. (Jimi) Hendrix was incredible, but that record just had a feel to it and a character that can't be missed." - Alex Lifeson, MovieEntertainment.ca, November 2009
"Jimmy Page has always been my absolute guitar hero. From the first time I heard Zeppelin's first album, I wanted to play just like him. I wanted to dress just like him. When I finally got to meet him in '98, I was so nervous, like a little kid. My hand was shaking when I handed him a copy of my solo album, Victor, on which I had written something saying how much he meant to me." - Alex Lifeson, Vintage Guitar, September 2011
"This is an absolutely brilliant song, an all-time classic. 'Kashmir' has such a wonderful, exotic Middle Eastern feel to it - it's like no other song of its era - and Physical Graffiti is a mind-blowing album. In a roundabout way, 'Kashmir' influenced 'A Passage to Bangkok' , which has a similar sort of odd-tempo arrangement to the verses." - Alex Lifeson, Guitar World, July 2006
Monty Python's Flying Circus, October 1969 - December 1974
Rush have used multiple Python sound clips during their live show:
Wave/Particle Duality of Light, ~ 1970's
Professor Peart alludes to this law of phyics in the song "The Color Of Right". Large gravitational fields were confirmed in the 1970's to bend light rays, i.e. gravity affects the path of light. The closer light passes a gravitational field, the greater the affect on the light beam. Neil translates this to human relationships with the lyric "gravity and distance change the passage of right", as the "gravity" of a situation and the distance the observer is from that situation will affect that person's perception of what is right or wrong.
"Watertown was what used to be called a 'concept album,' a song-cycle narrating the first-person story of an Everyman character who lived in a generic sort of small town, Watertown, with his two sons, after his wife had left them to move to the big city...Apparently the composers chose the town's name from a map of New York State, as a 'typical' small town name. In a Rush song called 'Middletown Dreams,' from 1985, I chose the fictional town's name in a similar way - because there seemed to be a Middletown in every state (and I seemed to have bicycled through half of them)...now that I think about it, the third verse of 'Middletown Dreams' was modeled after my imagining of the departed wife and mother in Watertown..." - Neil Peart, Traveling Music
Paterson Ewen, 1925-2002
Ewen was a Montreal artist best known as an expressionistic painter of natural phenomena, especially events and objects in the sky. He is famous for gouging his paintings out of plywood with an electric router which he completed in the '70s.
"A series of works by Canadian painter Paterson Ewen helped to inspire 'Earthshine'..." - Neil Peart, "Behind The Fire"
THX 1138 by George Lucas, March 11, 1971
This movie, written and directed by George Lucas, starred Robert Duvall as THX 1138 (aka 1001001), a man who attempts to escape a futuristic society located beneath the surface of the Earth. The movie most likely inspired "The Body Electric" video (the endings are nearly identical).
"Gute Nacht, Freunde" by Alfons Yondrascheck (German singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey), 1972
An inspiration? I don't think so! For years it has been stated on various Rush websites that this song inspired the "Buenos Nochas, Mein Froinds!" section of "La Villa Strangiato". After reviewing the song, I can see or hear no resemblance other than the title. However, as often happens, once it is been posted online or elsewhere, Rush trivia becomes part of the Lexicon of Rush: Jon Collins' Chemistry once again mentions this song as an inspiration but doesn't site any references. Reinhard Mey used a pseudonym because he wanted to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972: the song was performed by the Duo "Inga & Wolf" and won 4th place. Of course Reinhard Mey recorded his own version of the song which was released on the album "Mein Achtel Lorbeerblatt" in 1972. Here is a version online, this one by "Karen And Percy". Determined to get a second opinion, because I realize all opinions are subjective, I enlisted the help from a Rush fan from Germany, who reviewed both the Reinhard Mey version and the Inga & Wolf version, those being two versions that would have been readily available for Rush to have absorbed in the years leading up to the recording of "La Villa Strangiato". After researching both versions, he confirmed that musically there is no resemblance to that section of "La Villa". If anyone disagrees, and can confirm via a Rush interview or some other official source that "La Villa Strangiato" was in fact inspired by "Gute Nact, Freunde", enquiring minds want to know!
A Nice Pair by Pink Floyd, December 1973
This album cover, containing images of the band along with images descriptive of "pairs" (fork in the road, frog in the throat, 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush'), bears a striking similarity to the "counterparts" images from the linernotes of Rush's Counterparts (even some of the jokes are the same). In addition, one of the images is a torn up photo of the band, with a ring left from a coffee cup, similar to the Victor album cover.
Blazing Saddles by Mel Brooks, February 7, 1974
The song "Anagram (For Mongo)" is an homage to a line in Mel Brooks' western spoof. Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) and his sidekick, retired gunfighter Waco Kid (Gene Wilder), protect the town of Rock Ridge from the men who want to run the railroad through the town. After Mongo (Alex Karras) rides into town, fighting brawn with brains, Sheriff Bart poses as a delivery boy and delivers an exploding "Candy Gram for Mongo".
"Mongo is a character in Blazing Saddles, and in one scene Sheriff Bart delivers a bomb to him, with the line 'Candygram for Mongo!' Thus, Anagram for Mongo seemed natural." - Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", October 1991
"Earache My Eye", from Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album, 1974, as well as the Up In Smoke soundtrack, 1979
Rush perform the main riff from this track at the close of "The Big Money" during many of their tours, as captured on A Show Of Hands, as well as at the end of "Tom Sawyer" on the Snakes & Arrows tour, as captured on Snakes & Arrows Live.
"...'The Big Money', which closes in less grand fashion, namely the heavy metal riff from Cheech & Chong's 'Earache My Eye'." - Contents Under Pressure
"Nights Winters Years" by Justin Hayward & John Lodge on Blue Jays, March 14, 1975
Justin Hayward and John Lodge were both members of the Moody Blues whose names start with "J", or "Blue-Jays". Played as Rush took the stage during the A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres tours, this song is heard at the beginning of Different Stages disk 3.
"It was actually an old Moody Blues song that was an orchestrated song that we used to open one of those shows." - Geddy Lee, "Rockline", January 20, 1999.
Powers of Mind by Adam Smith, 1975
One of the inspirations for "Hemispheres".
"The basic idea came from a book I was reading called Powers Of Mind, and it was just an incidental thing that was mentioned in the book, but it was something I'd read before [webmaster note: this juxtaposition of Apollo and Dionysius was first introduced by Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, 1872 (see separate entry above)] so I tied it into a whole lot of things and it's the basic constant conflict between thoughts and emotions, between your feelings and your sort of rational ideas. Apollo and Dionysius have been used in a lot of books to sort of characterise those two elements, the rational side and the instinctive side. I've always been really interested in the way that those two themes transmit themselves into people in political life or in social life. All those conflicts are always going on between people. Whether the instinctive way is right or the rationally thought out way is right, and the basic theme of 'Hemispheres' is that conflict, the battle of the heart and mind." Neil Peart, Visions
Taxi Driver, February 8, 1976
Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is heard saying his famous "You talkin' to me?" line at the beginning of "The Camera Eye" on the Time Machine Tour.
Reggie Leach, April 23, 1950 -
Leach coined the phrase "Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion; you must set yourself on fire." From Manitoba, Canada, Leach holds NHL records for most playoff goals in a year with 19 (tied) and most goals in a playoff game with 5; longest playoff goal-scoring streak with 10 (all in 1976). Also in 1976 Leach became only the third player (the first non-goalie) from a losing team to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, NHL's playoff MVP award. He later played on the Philadelphia team that set the NHL record with a 35-game unbeaten streak from October 14, 1979, to January 6, 1980.
"I found those words on the wall of a bar in Montana, attributed to somebody named Reggie Leach. It seemed an unlikely place to find inspiration, but I carried it away with me, and thought of it more than once during the making of this latest Rush album." - Neil Peart, "Behind The Fire"
SCTV, September 21, 1976-July 17, 1984
Second City began as a comedy troupe in Chicago followed by a second theater in Toronto. Second City Television, or SCTV, aired as a Saturday Night Live style skit-based television program from 1976 to 1983. The original performing cast was the late John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Harold Ramis and Dave Thomas. Around the second season, Ramis left and Candy, O'Hara, and Martin became less available. Tony Rosato, Robin Duke and Rick Moranis were then brought in, with Martin Short being the last to join in 1982. The show seeped into the Rush consiousness during the early 80's, specifically from three reoccuring skits: "Count Floyd", "The National Midnight Star" and "The Great White North". More Recently, episodes of That 70's Show and Freaks and Geeks have continued the SCTV/Rush relation.
Star Wars, May 25, 1977
During the R40 Tour, instead of the computerized sounds heard in the studio version of "Natural Science," sounds of R2D2 beeping are heard beginning at the lyric "computerized clinics."
The Turning Point, November 14, 1977
"'Losing It' drew a bit from that film with Shirley MacLaine called The Turning Point. It was about two ballet dancers. One of them had continued on and was getting to be a bit of a has-been. The other one had given it up to get married and raise a family. I was a bit inspired from that, but it was also about the physical side of doing things as an athlete. There's a sadness to that."- Neil Peart, Modern Drummer, April 1984
"The dancer is no one in particular, though partly inspired by the movie 'The Turning Point'." - Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", March 1990
"Nickel & Dime", by Journey on Next, February 1977
From their third album (before vocalist Steve Perry joined the band), Journey claims this instrumental inspired Rush's "Tom Sawyer". The All Music Guide categorizes this era of Journey as "Jazz Rock", and although the similarity to "Tom Sawyer" is highly debateable, it is progressive. In their Time 3 boxed set, the liner notes for this song state "again, this Mahavishnuesque composition attracted the attention of Journey's fellow musicians, notably the members of Rush, who constructed their song 'Tom Sawyer' along suspiciously similar line".
"In The Dead Of Night", by U.K. on U.K., March 1978
Alex Lifeson cited this song when illustrating the influence of Allan Holdsworth on his playing.
"Allan Holdsworth has an amazing, out-of-this-world liquidity. What a genius! His fingers are constantly moving. Pulls make up the bulk of his playing; I don't think he does much picking. I was listening to Holdsworth around the time of Moving Pictures , and you can indirectly hear his influence on my playing on 'YYZ.'" - Alex Lifeson, Guitar World, July 2006
Superman: The Movie, December 10, 1978
Sound from the film starring Christopher Reeve was sampled during the beginning of the song "The Camera Eye".
"We were looking for an urban sound effect, and we ended up using a part of Superman, when Clark Kent is arriving at the offices of the Daily Planet amid the traffic and bustle of Metropolis." Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", October 1991
"The Mandelbrot Set", Benoit Mendelbrot, 1979
Found in the Test for Echo album art is the "Mandelbrot Set" fractal, an object that upon close inspection always appears similar but never repeats, generated by repeating a simple equation infinitely. Fractals are used in jpeg image compression, by geologists to predict earthquakes and reveal buried minerals, and are also being employed by astronomers and psychiatrists. First published by IBM mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975, the Mandelbrot Set is the most famous of all fractals and is sometimes described as the most complicated object ever discovered.
"Working On The Radio", by The 102.1 Band, 1979
Written and recorded by members of Toronto's CFNY, this song may have been an inspiration for Rush's "The Spirit of Radio", both musically and thematically. Released in January the following year, the driving riff of "The Spirit of Radio" is obviously similar to the one used in this song, and Alex's guitar solo is similar to this song's solo performed by "special guest" Nash the Slash on electric violin (a member of the band FM, he later left for a solo career and was replaced by Ben Mink). Like "The Spirit of Radio", the song itself is a similar tribute to CFNY, the same 'Spirit of Radio' credited in the Permanent Waves linernotes. In addition, original Canadian pressings of Permanent Waves (with the Dewey Defeats Truman cover), have Anthem catalog number "ANR-1-1021" and 1021 pressed into the center grooves.
"There is a radio station in Toronto called CFNY-FM, who were in the late 'seventies just about the last of the truly 'free' radio stations in North America, playing all kinds of weird stuff. Their slogan was (and is) 'The Spirit of Radio', hence the dedication. The song was inspired by the idea of how special radio can be when it's presented by 'real people', and not by chart numbers and 'demographics'. In spite of becoming a little more formatted over the years (hence the 'so far'), they remain the 'alternative' radio in the area." - Neil Peart, "Backstage Club Newsletter", January 1988
Hell's Kitchen, the automata by Paul Spooner, 1980
The original promotional video for "Mystic Rhythms" features an assortment of surreal images and objects interspersed with footage of the band performing the song. The final 30 seconds of the video features "Hell's Kitchen", a one-of-a-kind hand-carved mechanical sculpture, or "automata", built in 1980 by Paul Spooner. Hell's Kitchen is currently owned by Marvin Yagoda, the owner of Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The sculpture is over 7 feet tall, 3 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and weighs around 300 pounds. Although it is no longer on display in the museum (as the museum received too many complaints regarding the genitalia found on the sculpture), here is a clip extracted from a Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum promotional DVD.
Airplane!, July 2, 1980
Ted Stryker (Robert Hays) and Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) are heard giving their famous "Surely you can't be serious?" "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley" exchange at the end of "The Camera Eye" on the R40 Tour.
Stuart Hall, Meteorologist of Burlington, Vermont's Channel 3, ~ late 1980
This weatherman had two catch phrases that were later quoted in two Rush songs - "Prime Mover" and "Turn The Page":
"[Le Studio's] assistant engineer, Robbie Whelan...had recommended the evening forecast with meteorologist Stuart Hall of Burlington, Vermont's Channel 3, and I started watching it religiously each evening. The language of meteorology in Hall's reports influenced me, and I even incorporated his words into our lyrics. Just before each day's satellite video, Hall would say, 'Let's set the clouds in motion.' This phrase became a metaphor in the song 'Prime Mover'. 'Looking at the long range forecast' was Hall's nightly segue to the next day's outlook, and I worked that into 'Turn the Page'." - Neil Peart, Canadian Geographic, January/February 2006
"Too Much Time on My Hands", by Styx on Paradise Theater, January 19, 1981
The title of this song inspired a line from Rush's "The Analog Kid":
"Too many hands on my time" comes from, of all things, a Styx song that had some reference to 'too much time on my hands.' I just turned it around. There you are - a Rush song directly inspired by Styx! The truth is out!" - Neil Peart, Music Express, September/October 1982
Space Shuttle Columbia, inaugural launch, April 12, 1981
Eyewitnesses to the historic launch from Red Sector A, Rush later captured the event in the song "Countdown", which is "Dedicated with thanks to astronauts Young & Crippen and all the people of NASA for their inspiration and cooperation".
"I remember thinking to myself as we flew back to Fort Worth after a couple days without sleep: 'We've got to write a song about this!' It was an incredible thing to witness, truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can only hope that the song comes even close to capturing the excitement and awe that we felt that morning." - Neil Peart, "Stories From Signals"
"An extra musical highlight of the tour (that would later have several musical consequences) came in early April when the band accepted an invitation to watch the launching of the first space shuttle. The group arrived at Cape Canaveral on a day off. But when the mission was scrubbed because of technical problems, a little bit of tricky scheduling had to be done. The band boarded a plane for a show in Dallas. The launch was rescheduled for April 12, so the band flew back to Florida. This time the launch went off without a hitch. Neil described the lift-off as a once in-a-lifetime experience. One interesting sidelight: the area where they watched the shuttle take off was called Red Sector A. Once the shuttle was in the sky it was time to head back to Texas for another show...The whole band wanted to try to recapture the thrill of watching the space shuttle launch. Using actual audio tapes of the launch sequence, they tried to recreate the final countdown in musical terms...'Countdown' attempts to bring that long remembered shuttle experience to life...Geddy was later to say that the song comes across like a textbook..." - Visions
Blue Velvet, September 19, 1986
This surrealist film by writer/director David Lynch (Eraserhead, Dune, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Mulholland Drive), contains multiple mentions of the phrase "Now it's dark", and inspired its use in the liner notes of Roll The Bones, according to Neil Peart, "Rush Backstage Club Newsletter", January 1994. Athough Peart called the movie a comedy, its synopsis is "an innocent young man discovers that a dark underworld exists beneath the surface of his seemingly quiet hometown."
The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, 1986
The "Watchmaker" from Clockwork Angels is most likely inspired by "The Watchmaker Analogy", which is a theleological argument for the existence of God. This book by biologist Richard Dawkins is subtitled "Why The Evidence Of Evolution Reveals A Universe Without Design". It presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. The title makes reference to "the watchmaker analogy" made famous by William Paley in his book Natural Theology published in 1802. Dawkins, in contrasting the differences between human design and its potential for planning with the workings of natural selection, therefore dubbed evolutionary processes as analogous to a "blind watchmaker".
In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje, 1987
This novel partly inspired "The Anarchist" from Clockwork Angels:
"That's where that character comes from, [The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad] and Michael Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion. He has a central character who's a committed terrorist/anarchist. Anarchy is an innocent utopian thing for him, an ideal." - Neil Peart, Classic Rock Special Clockwork Angels Edition, June 11, 2012
The Tidewater Tales by John Barth, 1988
"We will pay the price, but we will not count the cost. A line from John Barth's The Tidewater Tales (he said I could use it) which echoed around inside me for a long time after I read that book. To me, it just means go for it." - Neil Peart, "Row the Boats"
Tom Robbins, July 22, 1932 -
Camille Paglia, 1947-
An author and dissident feminist, Paglia's controversial writings influenced Neil's lyric writing on Counterparts:
"I don't agree with everything she says," Peart confesses. "But when she quotes Freud and gets in trouble for that, she says, 'Look, I don't believe every word the guy wrote. He had some good insights and I choose to make use of them.' And that's the same way I feel about Camille Paglia and Ayn Rand." - Request, January 1994
Peart boasts of putting months of study into the 200 or so words in each song. For "Counterparts," he immersed himself in the writings of psychiatrist Carl Jung and controversial academic Camille Paglia. The drummer's sometimes-pompous pronouncements remain a stumbling block for some listeners, but he brushes aside all criticism. He's confident that his opinions are the right ones. The fact that some disagree with him only leads him to draw a parallel with his new hero, Paglia. "Her odyssey has been much like mine," Peart says. "She came out of '60s feminism, so her credentials are sound. Then her study, basically 25 years of scholarship, led her to certain conclusions that people dismiss with a snap. "She spends years and years studying something and then says, 'There's this and this difference between males and females,' and somebody says, 'No there isn't.' This bothers me, too. If somebody's not willing to do the homework on it, then they have no right to the opinion." - Chicago Sun Times, March 27, 1994
Black Sun by Edward Abbey, 1991
This novel influenced certain lines in "Vapor Trail" according to Neil Peart in "Behind The Fire".
The Simpsons, May 1990 -
Two sound clips from this animated television series have been used during the live show.
"There Is a Lake Between Sun & Moon" by Pye Dubois, 1992
This is the original poem submitted to Rush which was revised and released as the song "Between Sun & Moon". Pye read the poem at the second annual Kumbaya Festival, Sept. 4, 1994, at the Forum in Toronto. The linernotes of the cd release commemorating the event, Kumbaya 1995, contains a transcript of the poem, although the cd does not contain the reading. The cd does, however, contain Alex Lifeson's jam with other Canadian musicians on "All Along the Watchtower".
"'Tom Sawyer' of course was cowritten with Pye, and 'Force 10' on Hold Your Fire was too [webmaster note: as well as the title track from Test For Echo], and I really like his style of writing. It's inscrutable to me, sometimes, as I think it is to other people too, but at the same time it has a certain power in his images and writing. And also, there was some strange symbiosis that seemed to affect the songs; when Pye was involved in 'Tom Sawyer' and in 'Force 10', it made them somehow a little different musically, you know, his percolation through me. I would get his ideas and then I would add mine to them and structure it as a Rush song, and then pass it along to the other guys. Even through that chain of events, somehow there was some outside influence that was good, so we've always kind of kept the open door to Pye's ideas. Anytime he had anything to submit he would send it along to me, usually scrawled in an exercise book. And in this case that was one that we all responded to some of the images in his presentation, so again I went to work on it, shaped it up into the kind of structure that we like to work with, and then added some of my own images and angles on it. And so it went." - Neil Peart, Counterparts Radio Premiere
National Geographic, Vol. 182, No. 5, November 1992
Page 14 of this issue contains a story on optical illusions, the example of "illusory triangles" was recreated on the Counterparts back cover.
A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind And The Renaissance Portrait Of An Age by William Manchester, June 1, 1993
As Neil Peart noted in "Time Machine: The Future As It Ought To Have Been", the title of this history book inspired the line in "Caravan".
Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, May 2, 1997
The Austin Powers films have been referenced frequently since their debut. Geddy Lee is heard quoting Austin's trademark "Yeah Baby!" on the Different Stages live album; a sample of the actual quote from the film was heard near the end of "The Camera Eye" during the Time Machine Tour. The Snakes & Arrows Live linernotes, in referencing Holland, includes the nod to Goldmember with "Isn't that weird". And on the Clockwork Angels tour, during "The Big Money" we hear Dr. Evil say "One Million Dollars!".
"This was a little idea of Geddy's and I don't think it is going over well because I am getting asked about it all of the time. The villain from the last Austin Powers movie, Goldmember, was Dutch. After everything he said, he'd say, 'Isn't that veird'? We thought there would be a greater connection to it, that more people would get it. But that's all we get asked about now. 'What does that mean exactly? What are you saying'? If we would have spelled it 'veird' instead of 'weird', maybe more people would get it." - Alex Lifeson, Red Hot Rock, May 2014
A Fistful Of Alice, July 29, 1997
Deja Vu, an Alice Cooper inspiration! Ten years after it appeared on the cover of Alice Cooper's A Fistful Of Alice live album, graphic artist Hugh Syme reused the same backdrop in the Snakes & Arrows linernotes for the track "The Larger Bowl".
Sister Of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 2000
Along with Neil's own tragic losses, this novel partially inspired the "Secret Touch" lyric, "There is never love without pain", according to Neil Peart in "Behind The Fire".
"What Do Dreams Want?" by Marc Ian Barasch, from Utne Reader #102, November/December 2000
This article contributed ideas to both "Nocturne" and "Secret Touch" (the line "the way out is the way in") according to Neil Peart in "Behind The Fire".
The Weather Channel, cable television news station
This cable television news station insprired the title "Ceiling Unlimited": "Ceiling: The height ascribed to the lowest layer of clouds or obscuring phenomena when it is reported as broken, overcast, or obscuration and not classified as 'thin' or 'partial.' The ceiling is termed unlimited when these conditions are not satisfied.".
"...the TV in the bus was tuned to the Weather Channel. Looking at the forecast, I noted that it read, 'Ceiling Unlimited'...'Yes, that's where that came from,' Neil said, smiling." - Brian Catterson with Neil Peart, Cycle World, February 2003
An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain by Diane Ackerman, May 25, 2004
This novel inspired the various alchemic images throughout Clockwork Angels:
"I was just fascinated by the alchemic elements, because they're beautiful. I came across them in the Diane Ackerman's book, An Alchemy Of Mind, a beautiful book in every other way, and I happened to notice that design, and I got curious. What are they? Where are they from? It goes back to Egyptian times and was considered science. It's still practiced in a cultish sort of way; in fact, there was a symbol for silicone that said 'for modern alchemy only'. Now think about those words: boom! 'Modern alchemy' - what?!" - Neil Peart, Classic Rock Special Clockwork Angels Edition, June 11, 2012
Team America: World Police, October 11, 2004
As confirmed in Neil Peart's essay, "The Game of Snakes & Arrows; Prize Every Time", the female voice heard in "Malignant Macissism" saying "Usually a case of malignant narcissism brought on during childhood", is sampled from Team America: World Police.
South Park, August 1997 -
Family Guy, the animated series, January 31, 1999 - present