The Camera Eye

Background and Commentary

“‘The Camera Eye’ is an 11-minute battle between barbed riffs from Alex and tidal synthesizers from Geddy.”–Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure

The piece “focuses on a lighter mood [than ‘Limelight’] in an attempt to capture what was perhaps the most unique talent of a half-forgotten, early 20th century American writer. John Dos Passos [one of whose books is The Camera Eye] is not ranked highly in the canon of literature nowadays, but he helped expand the limits of the novel much like Rush were trying to do with music. And this song, more than any essay about Dos Passos, captures his wide-eyed sense of wonder and ability to see the magic of life. It describes the feeling of place that one can experience in New York or London or any town anywhere that . . . [has] a character and a quality its own.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

“The contrast between possibilities [London] and hard realities [New York City] is exactly the same one that’s drawn by H.P. Lovecraft in his short story ‘He,’ in a semi-autobiographical monument to his unhappy ‘New York exile.’ . . . Lovecraft lived for a few years in New York City, a prospect he first greeted with eagerness, but soon it palled on him. The possibility and the reality of New York proved to be two quite different things. . . . [And, like Neil,] Lovecraft chose yesterday’s London as his point of comparison and contrast with today’s New York.”—Carol Selby Price and Robert Price, Mystic Rhythms

“The sampled cinematic street sounds are from ‘Metropolis’ in Superman: The Movie. Part one is about New York and the hard realities, while part two is about London and the possibilities, the two verses linked by rain. Chase scenes in Incident at Channel Q [a 1986 movie by Storm Thorgerson about suburbanites taking a dim view of heavy metal] used some of the faster parts in the song.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players


Grim faced and forbidding
Their faces closed tight
An angular mass of New Yorkers
Pacing in rhythm
Race the oncoming night
They chase through the streets of Manhattan
Head first humanity
Pause at a light
Then flow through the streets of the city

They seem oblivious
To a soft spring rain
Like an English rain
So light, yet endless
From a leaden sky

The buildings are lost
In their limitless rise
My feet catch the pulse
And the purposeful stride

I feel the sense of possibilities
I feel the wrench of hard realities
The focus is sharp in the city

Wide angle watcher
On life’s ancient tales
Steeped in the history of London

Green and grey washes
In a wispy white veil
Mist in the streets of Westminster
Wistful and weathered
The pride still prevails
Alive in the streets of the city

Are they oblivious
To this quality?
A quality
Of light unique to
Every city’s streets

Pavements may teem
With intense energy
But the city is calm
In this violent sea


By Charles Grogan (

Excerpted from Fretplay.








For complete tab, go to Fretplay.


“The Camera Eye” guitar cover

“The Camera Eye” bass cover

“The Camera Eye” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 5, 2011.

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