Distant Early Warning: Background

A “prog rock reggae pastiche, ‘Distant Early Warning’ would provide Grace Under Pressure with its live-lasting, concert-consummate moment. The track’s heavy chorus roils beneath a poignant, straight-forward few lyrics, this surging section set up by a rhythmic prechorus that continues to raise the energy bar at many a Rush show. The piece would provide the soundtrack for the band’s first production video, an appropriate futuristic set and script ensuing.”—Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure

“Originally subtitled ‘Red Alert’ to further create the sense of urgency, the title ‘Distant Early Warning’ refers to the systems that are part of NORAD (national missile detection dishes across Canada). Government disinformation, revolving door policies, absolute power, heavy water (found in nuclear reactors but here also meaning floods of acid rain) are the contemporary political references, while biblical images of doom appear in the reference to the cities of the plain—Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) were called cities of the plain—destroyed by fire and sulphur. ‘Red books’ are political platforms in Canada.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

The song represents “a style of writing I’ve been working towards over the last couple of albums that’s inspired by T.S. Eliot in an indirect way. It’s the style of pouring so much into it, so many images, almost flooding the reader or listener with ideas and images so that you don’t seem to grasp anything out of it, but in the end you’re left with something. (Off the Record) The main theme of the song is a series of things, but our very tense world situation [fueled in part by President Reagan’s pressing ahead with the Strategic Defense Initiative, for which the Soviet Union threatened retaliation] is part of it. And then it deals with the closer things in terms of relationships and how to keep a relationship in such a swift-moving world, work and the mundane concerns of life tend to take precedence over the important values of relationships. . . . And when I see a little bit of grace in someone’s life, like when you drive past a horrible tenement building and you see these wonderful pink flamingos on the balcony, some little aspect of humanity, it strikes you as beautiful resistance.” (Jim Ladd Innerview)—Neil in Merely Players

More about “Distant Early Warning”

Three “Distant Early Warning” tribute versions.
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~ by rvkeeper on January 11, 2011.

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