Closer to the Heart: Background
The piece “was the first Rush song to have an outside co-writer, Peter Talbot, a friend of Neil’s. It was released as a single in time for Christmas 1977, and after two near misses with “Fly by Night” and “Bastille Day” in 1975, it gave Rush their first hit single in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 36 in February 1978.
“It is one of Rush’s most popular recordings, receiving a fair amount of radio airplay still to this day. The song has also been part of the set list on nearly every tour since 1977. The band decided to drop the piece for the bulk of their 2002 Vapor Trails Tour and the entire R30: 30th Anniversary Tour in 2004 because, according to Peart, ‘we got sick of it.’ The song was also not played during the 2007 and 2008 legs of the Snakes & Arrows Tour, but was brought back for the 2010 Time Machine Tour.
“On their live albums A Show of Hands and Different Stages, Rush appended several minutes of jam-type playing at the end of the performance.
“On the original track and live performances from October 1977 to May 1983 and then again from November 1996 to January 2005, Peart played his acoustic drum kit but used a Simmons (then later Drum) electronic drum kit in live performances of the track from June 1984 to May 1994.”—Wikipedia
“Neil has said that, lyrically, the song offers solutions to the concerns raised within the title track [of A Farewell to Kings], and indeed the lyrics of the two songs link up seamlessly.”—Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure
Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell in their book Beyond and Before say the song, along with “Freewill,” offers a solution to people’s increasing alienation from the “mass-living” of the suburbs by emphasizing the role of work in our sense of belonging. In the song, “social integration” is “based on everyone accepting their roles and developing them according to their strengths: ‘Philosophers and ploughmen/Each must know his part.’ The almost feudal imagery seems very conservative (blacksmith and artist are the other roles identified), but the key is the creativity in every part of society, ‘to sow a new mentality’ by balancing heart and mind. There is a sense of restoration and a reattainment of a holistic society, where the individuals are specifically not alienated from their labour (an unexpected and unconscious Marxist angle) and where labour is the essence of social and individual development.”
“It remains a favorite of female Rush fans and would open quite a few radio station doors.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions
The piece is one of five songs for which Rush was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010. The other four are “Subdivisions,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “Limelight.”
~ by rvkeeper on January 11, 2011.