165 Lines, 165 Song Meanings

Rush, 1974
1. Finding My Way: Coming home to get some despite your having done me wrong
2. Need Some Love: Out on the town, looking to get some
3. Take a Friend: Advice to a friend to get a friend, and maybe get some, too
4. Here Again: Overwhelmed by life, relationship not going well
5. What You’re Doing: You’re a stuffed shirt, your opinion’s not valued
6. In the Mood: I’m ready to get some. Are you?
7. Before and After: Growing apart but still wanting to get some
8. Working Man: Lament about keeping one’s nose to the grindstone

Fly by Night, 1975
9. Anthem: Live for yourself and don’t be sidetracked by guilt
10. Best I Can: Eschew the corporate life to do what you love to do: rock
11. Beneath, Between & Behind: America fails to uphold its promise after a good start
12. By-Tor and the Snow Dog: Little dog sticks it to the big dog in fantasy battle
13. Fly by Night: Sorry not to stick around, but the world awaits my next move
14. Making Memories: We’ve had some great times together, haven’t we?
15. Rivendell: There is peace here in this unspoiled elven community
16. In the End: I love you, but ultimately there’s a separation between us

Caress of Steel, 1975
17. Bastille Day: The masses have risen up, but will the French Revolution ideals last?
18. I Think I’m Going Bald: I’m growing old, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it
19. Lakeside Park: Ah, that summer working at the carnival was carefree and magical
20. The Necromancer: Tolkien’s evil Sauron is sent packing in fantasy narrative
21. The Fountain of Lamneth: Life arc of an Odysseus-like adventurer in epic narrative

2112, 1976
22. 2112: Bad end for citizen of collectivist state who shows initiative in sci fi tragedy
23. A Passage to Bangkok: The world’s best pot-growing areas? Been there, done that
24. The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s our man, and his TV show is a classic without peer
25. Lessons: Things are good, but had I listened to some people, we wouldn’t be here
26. Tears: It hurts me that I’ve hurt you
27. Something for Nothing: Get up, live your dreams, make your mark

A Farewell to Kings, 1977
28. A Farewell to Kings: Modern, democratic society has failed to live up to its promise
29. Xanadu: There’s no way out once you reach Kubla Khan’s Pleasure Dome
30. Closer to the Heart: It’s up to you, leaders and artists, to align society with its ideals
31. Cinderella Man: Who’s crazy, me or you, as I give away my wealth to help the needy?
32. Madrigal: Your love inspires me to battle society’s evils in this chivalric ode
33. Cygnus X-1: Why am I descending into this black hole? Because it’s there

Hemispheres, 1978
34. Hemispheres: Balance between reason and passion is what we’re looking for
35. Circumstances: Fears persist and hopes remain unfulfilled in this look back
36. The Trees: Forced equality leads to mediocrity in this comic-book metaphor
37. La Villa Strangiato: Lerxstian dream space recounted in this extended instrumental

Permanent Waves, 1980
38. The Sprit of Radio: Free-form radio shouldn’t be a dying breed, but, alas, it is
39. Freewill: Moral agency explored in this succinct treatise
40. Jacob’s Ladder: Clouds part, brilliant light streams down in this cinematic showpiece
41. Entre Nous: Even in true love we’re strangers, but that doesn’t have to separate us
42. Different Strings: On different paths we’ve seen it all, so we share this understanding
43. Natural Science: Our technology is big, but our place in the universe is small

Moving Pictures, 1981
44. Tom Sawyer: Here’s an independent thinker who maintains his authenticity
45. Red Barchetta: Our independent thinker thumbs his nose at rules in sci-fi chase
46. YYZ: We travel to exotic places and then return home in this instrumental
47. Limelight: Fame is great except for the unwanted attention that comes with it
48. The Camera Eye: NYC intense but vital, London calm but waning in this travel journal
49. Witch Hunt: Vigilantism is what you get when you stoke ignorance and superstition
50. Vital Signs: Persistence is key to rising above the herd in this technology metaphor

Signals, 1982
51. Subdivisions: The suburbs lack oxygen for those who think differently
52. Analog Kid: It’s love, adventure, and untying the apron strings for this teenager
53. Chemistry: Real communication goes deeper than spoken language
54. Digital Man: Awareness starts to haunt this mover and shaker
55. The Weapon: Beware of leaders who exercise control by stoking fear
56. New World Man: Enlightened and powerful but still “human, all-too human”
57. Losing It: Here’s what the twilight years of the gifted look like
58. Countdown: Technological achievement in space: it’s just awesome

Grace Under Pressure, 1984
59. Distant Early Warning: Hungering to stay close to a loved one as problems mount
60. Afterimage:  Eulogy for a friend who died young in this photographic depiction
61. Red Sector A: Hope and fear of holocaust victims illustrated in this vignette
62. The Enemy Within: Conquering the fear, real and imagined, that keeps us down
63. The Body Electric: Humanoid “de-programming” himself in pursuit of autonomy
64. Kid Gloves: Better to chill when pressure makes you want to lash out at loved ones
65. Red Lenses: “Red” has a lot of connotations in this play on words
66. Between the Wheels: In the rat race, it’s just one step away from being crushed

Power Windows, 1985
67. The Big Money: Capitalism destroys glibly in this game-show metaphor
68. Grand Designs: In our ocean of commercialism, individuality stubbornly persists
69. Manhattan Project: Almost an expository take on development of the atom bomb
70. Marathon: Success in life is a long-distance race, not a sprint
71. Territories: Unfortunately, the short-sightedness of nationalism is pretty universal
72. Middletown Dreams: Let’s not discount the fantasies of change among ordinary people
73. Emotion Detector: Here we hold up a mirror to self-absorption
74. Mystic Rhythms: Happily, we haven’t explained away everything in the world

Hold Your Fire, 1987
75. Force Ten: A jackhammer is one way to remove barriers between people
76. Time Stand Still: The desire to stop the incessant rush of time is universal
77. Open Secrets: Couples shouldn’t leave irritants and needs unspoken
78. Second Nature: On the environment, let’s compromise before it’s too late
79. Prime Mover: The world’s been set in motion; you choose the quality of ride
80. Lock and Key: Checking our passions rather than dealing with the consequences
81. Mission: The desire to create looks good from the outside but it comes at a cost
82. Turn the Page: How to cope with news and events over which we have no control
83. Tai’ Shan: It really does feel different at the top of a mystical Chinese mountain
84. High Water: Water is life-giving and peaceful in this tribute

Presto, 1989
85. Show Don’t Tell: “I’ve had it with your B.S.,” you say in this confrontation fantasy
86. Chain Lightening: Seeing rare natural events together creates a lasting bond
87. The Pass: Teen suicide isn’t heroic in this effort to demythologize a tragedy
88. War Paint: It’s just suburban teens mistaking hormones for love here
89. Scars: Our deeply imprinted memories are released by existential triggers
90. Presto: Mistakes made, cues missed in this mea culpa about a cherished relationship
91. Superconductor: Pulling back the curtain on the music industry’s cynicism
92. Anagram: Semantic connections follow syntactic connections in this bit of wordplay
93. Red Tide: Time is running short if we’re going to get serious about the environment
94. Hand Over Fist:  No man is an island in this impressionistic take on an idea
95. Available Light: Wisdom comes from understanding what you see around you

Roll the Bones, 1991
96. Dreamline: All possibilities open up before us in this wry look at young adulthood
97. Bravado: We do what needs to be done without worrying about the consequences
98. Roll the Bones: Yes, life is existentially absurd; no, you shouldn’t worry about it
99. Face Up: Deal with the cards you’re dealt in life in this gambling metaphor
100. Where’s My Thing? Brassiness joins an upbeat tempo in this instrumental
101. The Big Wheel: Another young innocent entering the rough-and-tumble fray of life
102. Heresy: An “up yours!” to the Cold War communists who ruined everyone’s lives
103. Ghost of a Chance: Encounters are random, but sometimes we find lasting love
104. Neurotica: Don’t let things that bug you send you over the edge
105. You Bet Your Life: Whatever our beliefs, we’re all equally subject to chance

Counterparts, 1993
106. Animate: Getting one’s masculine and feminine sides in balance
107. Stick It Out: Balance your youthful arrogance with a focus on the long-term
108. Cut to the Chase: Leverage your genius regardless of what it leads to
109. Nobody’s Hero: Sadly, we tend to ignore the heroism of the people around us
110. Between Sun and Moon: Comfort in the space between certainty, uncertainty
111. Alien Shore: Here we make an effort to understand those who are different from us
112. The Speed of Love: Intoxicated by love that night, not so much the next morning
113. Double Agent: The workings of our subconscious described in this whimsical take
114. Leave That Thing Alone: Celtic spice added to R&B foundation in this instrumental
115. Cold Fire: Forget the romantic ideal; in relationships we’re dealing with reality
116. Everyday Glory: We can find a way to rise above a loveless, desperate home life

Test for Echo, 1996
117. Test for Echo: I’m afraid the lunatics have taken over the media asylum
118. Driven: Here we drive at the outer edge of skill and machine
119. Half the World: There are doers and talkers, builders and destroyers
120. The Color of Right: While looking for the perfect you miss the good
121. Time and Motion: Here life and nature are stripped down to their elemental parts
122. Totem: Gods, demons, sacred cows, self-help gurus—who can make sense of it all?
123. Dog Years: Yes, dogs aren’t that bright, but they’re tuned to the rhythms of life
124. Virtuality: As we spend more time online, let’s not mistake the virtual for the real
125. Resist: Whether we compromise or fight back, we have to learn to surrender first
126. Limbo: Boris Karloff and chain-dragging ghouls in this scary instrumental
127. Carve Away the Stone: Guilt is the weight that makes progress so hard

Vapor Trails, 2002
128. One Little Victory: Take a chance, achieve victory, keep that mindset, achieve more
129. Ceiling Unlimited: The world is expansive yet we keep our eyes glued to the floor
130. Ghost Rider: Keep riding and eventually you might leave the phantoms behind you
131. Peaceable Kingdom: Sadly, no peace while West and East talk past one another
132. The Stars Look Down: Think we control our own destiny? Think again
133. How It Is: Suspended between a gloomy today and a (likely) better tomorrow
134. Vapor Trail: Lives are lived on a vapor trail, fading from the moment of birth
135. Secret Touch: Once scarred by life, you become out of sync with the world
136. Earthshine: Post-tragedy, our life is a pale reflection of what we once were
137. Sweet Miracle: When a wonderful thing happens, it feels like a miracle
138. Nocturne: With some dreams, our body is trying to tell us something
139. Freeze: A look at that moment of suspension between fighting and fleeing
140. Out of the Cradle: Love is the force that renews life endlessly

Snakes and Arrows, 2007
141. Far Cry: Things have not turned out quite the way we thought they would, eh?
142. Armor and Sword: A look at faith used not for comfort but for bludgeoning others
143. Workin’ Them Angels: Keeping our guardian angels busy as we live on the edge
144. The Larger Bowl: Why do some have more than others? Doesn’t seem fair
145. Spindrift: We want answers from the world but the replies are indecipherable
146. The Main Monkey Business: Variations on a hard-driving pattern in this instrumental
147. The Way the Wind Blows: Are fanatics born or raised? They’re definitely raised
148. Hope: A kind of “secular prayer” in this 12-string acoustic guitar instrumental
149. Faithless: You can have your religion. For me, hope and love are enough
150. Bravest Face: Good and bad coexist, often in the same thing
151. Good News First: We came through that experience OK, but more trouble’s ahead
152. Malignant Narcissism: Travel subtext and quirky bass line in this instrumental
153. We Hold On: We’d rather be fishing but our sense of duty gets us to work

Clockwork Angels, 2012
154. Caravan: An independent thinker lights out for the city, ready to make his mark
155. BU2B: We’re taught to believe the universe has a plan, but there is none
156. Clockwork Angels: Don’t ask questions; just put your faith in these floating icons
157. The Anarchist: If I can’t win validation through love, I’ll win it through destruction
158. Carnies: The road to hell is paved with good intentions
159. Halo Effect: We project onto others what we want to see
160: Seven Cities of Gold: Eldorado doesn’t exist but we have to learn that for ourselves
161. The Wreckers: What evil lurks in the heart of man? Sadly, unfathomable evil does
162. Headlong Flight: Our past was tough, but we’d rather repeat it than face our end
163. BU2b2: The universe has no plan, but I do: strive for happiness rather than despair
164. Wish Them Well: Turn the other cheek to keep others’ poison from harming you
165. The Garden: Cultivate love and respect and you’ll create you own Garden of Eden

—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault

* With apologies to Hungarian logic professor Imre Lakatos for the Creative Commons use of his photo.

More from Rob Freedman:

Rush: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Excellence.

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