Background and Commentary

“Written by Neil about his experience on his own at 18 years old in England, this is one of the most discussed Rush songs written with the central issue the question of whether our lives are shaped by fate or circumstances.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

“‘Circumstances’ is a combination of the personal and the universal. The first two verses refer to Neil’s frustrating first trip to England. The chorus talks about the experience in more general terms as it discusses the chances we all take, the circumstances in which they occur, and the way that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The French phrase in the chorus, besides conveying the latter thought more concisely, shows Neil’s growing interest in the language.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

Especially notable, about Hemispheres in general but this song in particular, is the unusually high key Geddy sings in, particulaly in the chorus. “When I went in to do the vocals, I realized that I had not sung any of these things out, with the guys, during the writing process. Because when we wrote the music, I would sit down and acoustically sing some of the melodies, and everybody would go, ‘Yeah, that’s going to work, that’s going to work, OK.’ And we just assumed it would all be fine. So, we never really checked out the keys the songs were written in. And when I went to sing them, they were in such difficult keys for me to sing. . . . And it was just a ball-buster to record. I remember it being incredibly frustrating, you know, [and I had] huge blowouts with Terry [Brown].”—Geddy in Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure


A boy alone, so far from home
Endless rooftops from my window
I felt the gloom of empty rooms
On rainy afternoons
Sometimes in confusion
I felt so lost and disillusioned
Innocence gave me confidence
To go up against reality

All the same we take our chances
Laughed at by time
Tricked by circumstances
Plus ca change
Plus c’est la meme chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same

Now I’ve gained some understanding
Of the only world that we see
Things that I once dreamed of
Have become reality
These walls that still surround me
Still contain the same old me
Just one more who’s searching for
A world that ought to be




Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

Am Bm Am G D
e e e q e e e e e e e q q e e e e e e e e Q

G D Am Bm Am
e e e he e e e q e e Q e e e q q e e Q e e e

Am G D G D A…
q e e Q e e e e e e q e e e he *

boy alone…
B G D A D A F#
Q Q q Q Q q Q q e q h q q

B G D A D A F#
Q Q q Q Q q Q q e q h h

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“Circumstances” guitar cover

“Circumstances” bass cover

“Circumstances” drum cover

Back to Rush Vault

~ by rvkeeper on February 4, 2011.

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