YYZ: Background

“The title ‘YYZ’ refers to Toronto International Airport. It is the code that’s used by the pilots and the control tower. The introduction to the song is actually the Morse code readout for ‘YYZ.'”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

“‘YYZ’ is actually pronounced Y-Y-Zed (Canadian/British way of pronouncing ‘Z’). Neil smashes quarter-inch plywood against a stool for the crashing sound effect near the end. The loud synthesizer part is supposed to represent ‘coming home from a long trip,’ according to Geddy. ‘It is always a happy day when YYZ appears on our luggage tags!'”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

“There are parts of the song that are semi-evocative of the feelings that are engendered when you are going to the airport to leave. You are sort of feeling edgy and tense because you are having to leave home and go to work, and you are thinking that you are half at home and half away. It’s a very transitional period, and you always have a sense of infinite possibilities at the airport. You can change your mind and fly anywhere in the world, and all of a sudden you are not in Toronto any more; you are in the world. An airport really should not be said to be in a city, because it never is; it is always a crossroad. And that, of course, is a big part of the song. We tried to work a lot of the exotic nature of the airport in there. And the big, sappy instrumental bridge in the middle that is really orchestrated, really emotional, really rich, is of course again half symbolizing the tremendous emotional impact of coming home.”—Neil in Rush Visions

After the Rush in Rio DVD came out, in 2003, in which Brazilian audiences were shown “singing” to instrumental portions of their music, American crowds started doing that, most notably to portions of ‘YYZ.’ “It sounded great,” Neil says in his book Roadshow.

The Gibson guitar company in 2013 named “YYZ” the greatest rocking bass guitar riff ever, calling it Geddy’s finest moment. “Pretty much any song by Rush could have been on this list,” the company says in its announcement, released on July 1. “Rush bassist, keyboardist, and singer Geddy Lee has come up with quite a few intricate bass lines over the years. Keep in mind that Geddy doesn’t simply play bass—he sings lead vocals at the same time. Not an easy feat by any standard. But Geddy’s finest moment must be the instrumental “YYZ” from the band’s 1981 Moving Pictures album.” Also in the top ten: “Orion” by Metallica, “Around the World” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “My Generation” by The Who, and “Come Together” by The Beatles.

More about “YYZ”

Two “YYZ” tribute versions.

Watch an animated version of “YYZ.”

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~ by rvkeeper on January 11, 2011.

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