Fly by Night

Background and Commentary

“‘Fly by Night’ offers a hint of the kind of melodic song structure that the band would eventually evolve.”—John Swenson, Rush Chronicles

Neil wrote a short prologue to the piece that isn’t in the song: “airport scurry / flurry faces / parade of passers-by / people going many places / with a smile or just a sigh / waiting, waiting, pass the time / another cigarette / get in line, gate thirty-nine / the time is not here yet.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

The theme of being suspended between places, waiting to move, as featured in this song, is weaved throughout the band’s work. Neil talks about the feelings evoked specifically by airports, as environments that are both grounded in place and not grounded in place, in “YYZ.”—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault

“Fly by Night” and a few other of the first songs with lyrics written by Neil made an appearance before the second album was recorded in a WQIV (New York City) radio concert at the end of 1974. In this concert, ‘Fly by Night’ “was very different,” with “By-Tor and the Snowdog” tacked onto its end, among other things. In its final version, as recorded, it was considered the most pop-like piece on the album. “The second side opens on a high note with ‘Fly by Night,’ a really potential hit single.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

Martin Popoff calls it a “progressive pop” piece.—Contents Under Pressure

See “Fly by Night” used in VW Passat commercial.

Three “Fly by NIght” tribute versions.


Why try? I know why
The feeling inside me says it’s time I was gone
Clear head, new life ahead
I want to be king now not just one more pawn

Fly by night, away from here
Change my life again
Fly by night, goodbye my dear
My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend

Moonrise, thoughtful eyes
Staring back at me from the window beside
No fright or hindsight
Leaving behind that empty feeling inside

Fly by night, away from here
Change my life again
Fly by night, goodbye my dear
My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend

Start a new chapter
Find what I’m after
It’s changing every day
The change of a season
Is enough of a reason
To want to get away
Quiet and pensive
My thoughts apprehensive
The hours drift away
Leaving my homeland
Playing a lone hand
My life begins today

Fly by night, away from here
Change my life again
Fly by night, goodbye my dear
My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend


By Jimmy Pena (

Excerpted from Fretplay.

Some parts of the tab are old, some are new. The solo is not complete. Everything I have figured out is below. As for the rest, you are on your own. The key is D.

| – not a standard bar line; just used to separate music
~ – vibrato or held note
x – percussive note with no pitch; muted note
. – staccato; mute the note immediately after striking it
h – hammer on
p – pull off
s – slide
t – trill; play the note(s) indicated rapidly and repeatedly
/ – slide up from infinity
\ – slide down into infinity
– natural harmonic (or pinch harmonic)
3(b5) – bend note up from 3rd to 5th fret pitch
3(b5r3) – bend note from 3rd to 5th fret pitch, then return to 3rd fret
o \_
o / repeat sign (always look for these!)

[x35553] – fret box; this is a C chord – this is the same as standard
tablature, only turned on its side. Tilt your head clockwise to read.

[Riff 1]
D Dsus4 C G/B Gm/Bb A G A

[Riff 2]

[Riff 3]

[Riff 4]
Am Fmaj7 louder

For complete tab, go to Fretplay.


“Fly by Night” guitar cover

“Fly by Night” bass cover

“Fly by Night” drum cover

Back to Rush Vault

~ by rvkeeper on January 30, 2011.

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