Closer to the Heart

Background and Commentary

The piece “was the first Rush song to have an outside co-writer, Peter Talbot, a friend of Neil’s. It was released as a single in time for Christmas 1977, and after two near misses with “Fly by Night” and “Bastille Day” in 1975, it gave Rush their first hit single in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 36 in February 1978.

“It is one of Rush’s most popular recordings, receiving a fair amount of radio airplay still to this day. The song has also been part of the set list on nearly every tour since 1977. The band decided to drop the piece for the bulk of their 2002 Vapor Trails Tour and the entire R30: 30th Anniversary Tour in 2004 because, according to Peart, ‘we got sick of it.’ The song was also not played during the 2007 and 2008 legs of the Snakes & Arrows Tour, but was brought back for the 2010 Time Machine Tour.

“On their live albums A Show of Hands and Different Stages, Rush appended several minutes of jam-type playing at the end of the performance.

“On the original track and live performances from October 1977 to May 1983 and then again from November 1996 to January 2005, Peart played his acoustic drum kit but used a Simmons (then later Drum) electronic drum kit in live performances of the track from June 1984 to May 1994.”—Wikipedia

“Neil has said that, lyrically, the song offers solutions to the concerns raised within the title track [of A Farewell to Kings], and indeed the lyrics of the two songs link up seamlessly.”—Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure

Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell in their book Beyond and Before say the song, along with “Freewill,” offers a solution to people’s increasing alienation from the “mass-living” of the suburbs by emphasizing the role of work in our sense of belonging. In the song, “social integration” is “based on everyone accepting their roles and developing them according to their strengths: ‘Philosophers and ploughmen/Each must know his part.’ The almost feudal imagery seems very conservative (blacksmith and artist are the other roles identified), but the key is the creativity in every part of society, ‘to sow a new mentality’ by balancing heart and mind. There is a sense of restoration and a reattainment of a holistic society, where the individuals are specifically not alienated from their labour (an unexpected and unconscious Marxist angle) and where labour is the essence of social and individual development.”

“It remains a favorite of female Rush fans and would open quite a few radio station doors.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

The piece is one of five songs for which Rush was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010. The other four are “Subdivisions,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “Limelight.”

Four “Closer to the Heart” tributes.


And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart

Philosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
You can be the captain
I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart


By Jimmy Pena (

Excerpted from Fretplay.

This song has been tabbed by so many people that it would be a
waste to name them all. It has also appeared (in whole and in part) in
several guitar magazines. The key is A, but it switches to D for the
solo. Standard tuning [EADGBe] (low to high). The guitars during the
verses are doubled, electric and acoustic.

| = not a standard bar line; just used to separate music
~ = vibrato or held note
h = hammer on
p = pull off
s = slide
b = bend string up to indicated pitch/fret
r = release bend to indicated string/fret
/ = slide up from infinity
\ = slide down into infinity
o \_
o / repeat sign (always look for these!)

Chord legend:

A : [xx7765]
G : [xx5543]
D : [xx0232]
A5 : [x022xx]

[Intro] – played on an acoustic 12-string


Repeat 3 times:


[Riff 1]
G D(add9) Fmaj7
Asus2 Asus4 A

[Riff 2] – bells arr. for guitar (don’t play if your drummer has these


For complete tab, go to Fretplay.


“Closer to the Heart” guitar cover

“Closer to the Heart” bass cover (with synth)

“Closer to the Heart” drum cover

Back to Rush Vault

~ by rvkeeper on February 3, 2011.

%d bloggers like this: