A Farewell to Kings: Background

“The title is adapted from Ernest Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms. Longing for a new Renaissance era [which focused on our place in the cosmos], this revolution is more down to earth, the new world envisioned in ‘2112,’ a timeless realm. As in ‘2112,’ the wise are again resented, and the sacred ‘Halls of Truth’ are the churches, courthouses, and schools. The hypocrites are teachers, lawyers, and clergy.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

The piece “establishes a dual temporal plane, inviting the listener to ‘turn the pages of history,’ not to view a mythical past of heroic kings but a moment when courtly heroism was crumbling . . . . The appeal of the song, taking us back to the first line about history, is to rediscover a lost capacity to distinguish between right and wrong and to bridge ‘minds that make us strong’ with a belief that thoughts and feelings can be severed only at a great cost.”—Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell, Beyond and Before

The piece “opens on a meditative note as Alex plays a short classical guitar introduction. Birds at Rockfield [the studio in rural Wales where they recorded the album] can be heard whistling in the background as Neil joins in with chimes, triangle, and other percussion. Geddy plays a meditative synthesizer pattern. The band then pause for a moment before the traditional power attack. As Geddy wonders what future generations will think of us, the band plays with anger.

“The subject then turns to the problems of today. Then comes an instrumental break that shows the band as hard-hitting as ever, but a little leaner and with a more focused idea of where they are going [than on previous albums]. The metallic rock of the earlier albums remain, but the arrangement and the sound are fuller. Geddy outs in a great performance. He seems to be [genuinely] angry that the ‘hypocrites are slandering the sacred halls of truth.'”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

“‘The acoustic was recorded outdoors and all of the woodblock and percussion sounds that Neil used were recorded outdoors at the same time. You can here them echoing off the other buildings, and you can hear the birds tweeting.'”—Geddy in Contents Under Pressure

“How did we start with Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, and Madison and end up like this, [with weak leaders and their cynical advisors]? We, too, it seems, have been following the path of least resistance. We let the kings get away with murder, perhaps because of our own cynicism or our self-absorption. Or perhaps because we have let our sensibilities atrophy. Whose are the withered hearts, but ours? We have forgotten how to feel what’s right and wrong and must now try, in the eleventh hour, to relearn it before it’s too late.”—Carol Selby Price and Robert Price, Mystic Rhythms

The album cover image of the marionette puppet dressed as a king, with the urban wasteland behind him, illustrates the song. The cape thrown over one side of the throne shields the figure from the wasteland, but the king has lost his sovereignty. Inside the album, the three band members are photographed in a stately house. “The heaviness of the furniture contrasts with the bright light streaming through the half-open French window . . . . The tensions embedded in the lyrics are subtly introduced through the lighting, where darkness and light meet at a strong vertical line that cuts downward between the three band members.”—Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell, Beyond and Before

More about “A Farewell to Kings”

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~ by rvkeeper on January 11, 2011.

 
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