We’ve busted out the Rush records for Vinyl Monday this week, and that got me thinking about my favorite Rush songs ever.
I originally thought about making this a “best of” list, but it seemed more natural to pick the 10 songs that mean the most to me. I mean, really, how could I possibly identify the 10 “best” songs from 20 studio albums? I can’t even imagine what kind of criteria I’d use to make that kind of judgement.
So, here they are… my 10 favorite Rush songs. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if your list looks totally different; that’s the beauty of Rush fans.
Dreamline (Roll the Bones) – One of the best-ever Rush songs came out in their least-heralded decade, the 1990s. “Dreamline” perfectly captures the wide-eyed optimism and corresponding panic of young adulthood.
Subdivisions (Signals) – Coming off “Moving Pictures,” the “Signals” album felt uneven. The exception: The transcendent “Subdivisions,” whose message of fitting in struck a chord during my youth that made me believe Rush understood me more than I understood them.
Xanadu (Exit Stage Left) – This live version is the one that hooked me. The chimes! The synths! The lyrics! Alex Lifeson’s double neck guitar!
Far Cry (Snakes & Arrows) – July, 2007: I was flying from Chicago to Toronto with the then-new Rush album newly-downloaded on my iPod.. I pushed “play” and could hardly reconcile what I was feeling; “Far Cry” blew me away. It took me 20 minutes to get to the next song on the album (“Armor and Sword”), because I had “Far Cry” on repeat for multiple listens. As good as 21st century Rush gets.
Cygnus X-1 Book II (Hemispheres) – This is the kind of Rush song that comes to mind when people think of Rush: A big, sprawling, multi-part epic that comprises the whole of “Hemispheres” Side One. A totally immersive experience.
Limelight (Moving Pictures) – That guitar riff. Holy hell, that guitar riff. I get chills whenever I think about seeing them open their live show with “Limelight.”
Something for Nothing (2112) – The opus “2112” title track (understandably) gets all the attention, but I’ve always enjoyed this album-closer. “Something for Nothing” still feels to me like a farewell to the early 70s Rush sound.
Jacob’s Ladder (Permanent Waves) – Moody, foreboding and ominously moving forward, “Jacob’s Ladder” is the Rush song you want to have on as you’re driving through rural stretches after dark.
Time Stand Still (Hold Your Fire) – The lyrics feel more insightful as the years advance. Easily the most “pop”-sounding Rush hit, which would explain why it takes me a day or two to get it out of my head after each listen.
The Garden (Clockwork Angels) – There’s a simple, understated, cinematic beauty to “The Garden,” the last song on what may very well be Rush’s final studio album. Not a bad way to go out, if that’s the case.