Marathon: Background

The song ‘is about the triumph of time and a kind of message to myself, because I think life is too short for all the things that I want to do. There’s a self-admonition saying that life is long enough. You can do a lot, just don’t burn yourself out too fast trying to do everything at once. ‘Marathon’ is a song about individual goals and trying to achieve them. And it’s also about the old Chinese proverb: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.'” (Canadian Composer)—Neil in Merely Players

“The song rejects the ‘live fast, die early’ model of life so inexplicably popular in some quarters. If life were intended as a sprint, fine; a short life, shooting your wad as fast as you can, would be the way to do it. But it is not. Life is a long-distance run, and if you end it fast, it’s only because you paced yourself poorly and dropped out somewhere along the way.”—Carol Selby Price and Robert Price, Mystic Rhythms

Neil says the song was partly inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s motto, “First, one must last ” (to be distinguished from Jack London’s motto, which was “I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” In a March 2013 blog post, Neil writes, “Ernest Hemingway . . . quoted a motto from a statue of one of Napoleon’s generals, “Il faut d’abord durer”—“First one must last.” Or, the shorter version I prefer, “At first, to last.” (That was one inspiration for the Rush song, “Marathon.”)”

“‘Heartbreak Hill’ is a runner’s term describing that place in the marathon where a runner needs a second wind to finish. The play on words in the line “first you’ve got to last’ (perfect for the space needed before the chorus starts again) came from Hemingway, who, in turn, adopted it from a motto used by one of Napoleon’s marshals.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

The choir at the end of the piece was recorded in London. “At the same time [that we recorded the orchestra bits at Abbey Road Studios in London], we recorded a choir for ‘Marathon,’ and then we went to this church in another part of London where this really marvelous choir was singing, and it was a really great sounding room, and that’s why Peter [Collins, the producer of Power Windows] wanted to record them in that room.”—Geddy in Contents Under Pressure

More about “Marathon”

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~ by rvkeeper on January 11, 2011.

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