Riffs That Changed The World:
Working Man/Rush (1974)

Classic Rock, Christmas 2004; transcribed by pwrwindows

CANADIAN TRIO RUSH SAVED THE best until last with their self-titled debut album in March 1974.

Its closing track, which clocks in at seven minutes and 10 seconds, was built around a cautiously slow yet thoroughly pile-driving guitar motif from Alex Lifeson.

"I still recall writing the song and rehearsing it in Geddy's [Lee, bassist/vocalist] basement in 1972," says Lifeson. "It had existed for a couple of years before we recorded it. It was a heavy, cool riff in E, with a good degree of repetition. We were so influenced by Led Zeppelin at the time, but there was also an element of Black Sabbath, and the solo was very Cream-inspired." In fact 'Working Man' was recorded so long ago that drummer Neil Peart had yet to join the group. The drums on the track are by John Rutsey.

"We were still in our late teens. Who'd have thought we'd still be playing that song 30 years later?" Lifeson muses thoughtfully. "Who'd even have thought that the band might still be around?" Lifeson was "shocked and honoured" to learn that Audioslave, formed by ex-members of Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine, covered 'Working Man' in their shows last summer.

"I almost blush to think that a band like that would be influenced enough by us to cover one of our songs."

The song's opening lyric of 'I get up at seven and go to work at nine/I got no time for livin', I'm working all the time' was in fact written not about a struggling rock group trying to pay the bills, but about Lifeson's father.

"My dad was a very hard worker, almost always juggling two or three jobs," Lifeson reminisces. "Sometimes he'd come in from a night shift driving cabs, and we'd be downstairs making such a racket. He never once complained. I know that when Geddy wrote those lyrics he unofficially dedicated them to my father."