Background and Commentary


The first single from Rush’s upcoming 2011 album, Clockwork Angels, the piece takes us back to “Middletown Dreams” on Power Windows and “The Analog Kid” on Signals in the way it evokes the narrator’s decision to hop on the caravan to the city and go where he wants to rather than where he should. The reason for action? “In a world where I feel so small / I can’t stop thinking big.” Musically, the piece starts out on an ominous note that’s characteristic of the fire-lit road on which the caravan travels.

The line “in a world lit only by fire” comes from the title of a history of medieval times by William Manchester, A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age.

Neil says in a June 13 interview with Jim Ladd that the world the young man grows up in isn’t a bad world. It’s orderly. But that’s insufficient for a young man who hungers to make his mark on the world.

Alex says in a MusicRadar interview that the band thought about rerecording the piece for the album but decided not to. “It was nice to revisit the track and remix it for the album with fresh ears. We talked about rerecording it, but there wasn’t much point—we were happy with the performances and the sound. We did think that it could use a remix so it could connect more to what the album is now. The perspective changed a little bit. It’s funny, people say to me, ‘I hear new parts in the song. Did you rerecord it?’ The shift of the emphasis on different instruments creates that.”

The piece “was released to radio stations and saw digital release on June 1, 2010, and released on CD via mail order later that month. The B-side is an additional studio track titled “BU2B”, which stands for the lyric ‘brought up to believe.’ Both songs were recorded April 13, 2010, at Blackbird Studios in Nashville with producer Nick Raskulinecz [the co-producer of Snakes & Arrows], with mixing and engineering by Richard Chycki at the Sound Kitchen in Franklin, Tenn. Both songs are featured on Rush’s Time Machine Tour. These two new songs are the initial parts of what Neil refers to as an ‘extended album-length story.'”—Wikipedia

“A train signal, a dark and descending bassline and some ominous orchestration… Suddenly, blam! Rush explode into a tough, feisty rocker driven by Alex Lifeson’s gritty guitar riff. As he has done for some time, Geddy Lee sings in the middle register of his voice, and while some might yearn for the days of the banshee wail, the fact is that he has become a far more captivating and intriguing singer with age. When he sings, “In a world where I feel so small, I can’t stop thinking big,” he’s so full of wonder that the words gain a momentum of their own.
The rhythms shift dramatically. It’s not just that Peart has superb quirky timing, but that he gets everything imaginable out of his playing. Lifeson veers between gnarly riffing and dreamy top-string textures, and for a while it seems as if he’s teasing a solo, biding his time, but when he leans into it he’s biting and sassy, tearing off angular phrases before dispatching echo-driven sheets of sound that seem to take flight.”—Joe Bosso, MusicRadar


IT SEEMS LIKE A LIFETIME AGO – which of course it was, all that and more. For a boy, life on the farm was idyllic, but for the young man I became, that very peace and predictability were stifling, unbearable. I had big dreams, and needed a big place to explore them: the whole wide world.

Near our village of Barrel Arbor, the steamliners touched down and traveled on rails along the Winding Pinion River toward Crown City. Watching them pass in the night, how I prayed to get away . . .

In a world lit only by fire
Long train of flares under piercing stars
I stand watching the steamliners roll by

The caravan thunders onward
To the distant dream of the city
The caravan carries me onward
On my way at last
On my way at last

I can’t stop thinking big
I can’t stop thinking big

On a road lit only by fire
Going where I want, instead of where I should
I peer out at the passing shadows
Carried through the night into the city
Where a young man has a chance of making good
A chance to break from the past
The caravan thunders onward
Stars winking through the canvas hood
On my way at last

In a world where I feel so small
I can’t stop thinking big


By Ronnie Chesson

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

Intro w/vibrato effect:


Riff 1 w/ distortion:


Repeat Riff 1 again and then go to riff 2.

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“Caravan” guitar cover

“Caravan” bass cover

“Caravan” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on January 29, 2011.

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