More Muc Than You Can Handle

How Does One Introduce Rush?

Earlier this year I was chatting with a friend about the band Rush. I said they played a fundamental part of who I am and still have an impact on me today. This prompted them to ask how they could learn more. The most wonderful thing for any Rush fan to hear.

I’ll start by describing how I learnt about them. It was through my brothers who are older than me and they still joke about how as a child I would giggle to this guitar part in The Trees. A few years later, as I started learning how to play guitar, they suggested I learn songs like YYZ and Kid Gloves. I was immediately hooked to learning as much Rush as possible on guitar. Eventually I made an online quiz playing snippets of Rush songs on classical guitar. See if you can find YYZ and Kid Gloves there.

Lately I’ve grown to appreciate the lyrics as much as their musicianship. I explained to my friend how I enjoy more than just the music. I’ve also grown to appreciate the whole back story of the band. I love the relationship they have with each other and how they’ve stuck to their creative vision with the rebellious, but liberating, 2112 release. They’ve inspired me to get better at what I do, to stand up for my creative decisions, and to foster that inner-child.

Neil Peart passing away is one of the few celebrity deaths that made me emotional. It encouraged me to get more of my own thoughts into writing because I can appreciate how ones spirit can live on, just like Neil’s.

So with all that being said, how does one introduce Rush? How can I possibly convey how I feel about this band by suggesting a few songs to listen to? With 20 albums there’s no singular way to start.

These few suggestions are intended to shed a light on the evolution of the band’s sound along with a lyrics focus. I love all of these songs, but they might not be the best samples to make you like the band. I do hope they communicate why I love the band beyond their musicianship.

Red Barchetta (Moving Pictures 1981)


Moving Pictures is their 8th and most commercially successful album. It has songs like Tom Sawyer and Limelight which you may have heard before. I chose this song because it exemplifies their ability to make music that tells a story (not just with the lyrics). The intro to the solo sounds like a revving engine and the tone on the guitar during the solo sounds like changing gears.

Honourable mention also goes to the following lyrics from Witch Hunt which is part of a reverse trilogy of songs that span multiple albums on the topic of fear.

Quick to judge, quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear walk hand in hand

For a deep dive into the Fear Trilogy, check out Doug Helvering’s reaction (if you don’t care or like reaction type videos, check out the origin video).

Subdivisions (Signals 1982)


Just 1 year later they release Signals which introduces a lot more 80s like synth sounds. Some folks call this the point where Rush started to suck. I’m not one of those. This song (and its excellent video) resonated with me strongly as a child. It captures that feeling of wanting to be yourself, but also wanting to belong. In Canada, the suburban upbringing is a common experience when growing up. I was also made fun of a lot for liking Rush as I was growing up and this song reminds me of those moments.

The line that is so relatable is the following:

Some will sell their dreams for small desires

This is a lyric that I think about often and why Rush has had a profound impact on my life.

Analog Kid also gets an honourable mention for the following line:

Too many hands on my time

This motivates me as I pursue financial independence.

Red Tide (Presto 1989)

Presto is an often ignored album, but it’s the first album of theirs that I remember being released. I have a strong memory of my brothers coming home from the record store (A&B Sound) and the excitement of putting it into the CD player (I was 9).

The song has a main topic (environmental impact) and a secondary topic (AIDS). Neil Peart was a well read person and his lyrics showed his breadth and wasn’t shy about sharing an opinion on a subject.

Color of Right (Test For Echo 1996)

This album has an impact on me because it was released when I was a teenager. Rush albums have a general theme. Test For Echo to me has a theme around group association, group selection, tribe, beliefs, us vs them, etc. Another example is their album Roll the Bones which covers the theme of luck, chance, and risk.

This song feels as relevant today as it did back then. It’s not very detailed, but to me it suggests to not bear the weight of the problems of the world on your back. Also, what is right is a matter of perspective and cautions against being so black and white about a topic.

To emphasize how with the times Neil’s lyrics were, check out Virtuality and keep in mind that this was released in 1996.

The Garden (Clockwork Angels 2012)

I never heard this song until this year! Not sure why I never looked into it. When it was released I was wasn’t really paying attention. As the years went by, and knowing that Rush was most likely done, I feared hearing an album of theirs I might not like. Heh, I was so wrong.

It’s weird, but I felt proud of them for making incredible music on their 20th album. They never settled for “good enough”. It prompts me to think about what dimensions of my life do I not settle for “good enough”? Good enough is practically my catchphrase for most of what I do so this poses an interesting question for me to ponder right now.

This song being their last song on their last album hits me hard. The lyrics to me communicate some form of farewell. It also has an incredible lyric:

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect;
So hard to earn, so easily burned

Well said Neil.


This is an in-the-moment sample of Rush songs I drew up without thinking too hard about it. I don’t like “top x” lists as I don’t believe ranking art is that useful of an exercise. I hope this little story along with some samples at least provides a glimpse to how Rush has had an impact on me in some dimension.

One could argue that there’s a personal story being projected with this list. I’ve recently written about my reflections on reaching midlife. Many of these songs describe a bit of a filtering of the the world outside oneself so one can focus on the self. I want to belong, but I don’t want to sacrifice who I am to do it. I care about the environment, but I cannot let it keep me up at night. I want to do good, but I need to reflect on if I’m virtue signalling. As someone who’s not adept at describing their feelings and emotions, I find Rush gives me a palette to paint a picture to the question “what’s on your mind?” or “what are you thinking?”.

If you’ve listened to the songs and they’ve piqued your interest and you’re curious to learn more. The documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage, tells a vivid story of their origin and evolution while often showcasing their wonderful sense of humour.

This post took 3 pomodoros and a bunch of covid induced unfocused time