Background and Commentary

“The title comes from an area around Hong Kong called The New Territories. I was struck by the sound of that word, and the territorial instinct. And what with the Northwest Territories being part of Canada, it was just the right sort of word to describe what I was after. As for the opening line about the Middle Kingdom, that’s still what China calls itself today. The reason for the Middle Kingdom is because it’s a middle between Heaven and Earth. In other words, it’s slightly below Heaven, but still above everybody on Earth. Some people look at patriotism or nationalism as being the next best thing to loyalty to your family. I don’t buy it.” (Canadian Composer)—Neil in Merely Players

“The song brings to mind the ‘2112’ lyric ‘let the banners be unfurled,’ referring to Neil’s belief that a person should be a citizen of the word, not a flag-toting nationalist.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

“Nationalism cannot help leading to chauvinism [and in fact there is] no difference between the two.”—Carol Selby Price and Robert Price, Mystic Rhythms

“‘Territories’ echoes both the band’s visit to the Far East and the divisions between cultures and people. Specific references to the trip in lines such as ‘better people, better food, and better beer,’ which are similar to comments during the early part of the Japan visit [where Rush played in 1984] can also be seen as the comments of all cultural and military invaders. Neil then compares that pride to someone who will not be committed to a single territory. The song is a showcase for Geddy’s new bass, a Wahl, and he gets an amazing tone out of it.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

In his book Roadshow, Neil alludes to a pointlessness in the whole exercise of raising your homeland above others, and that includes people who leave their homeland because they had to, like the many Europeans who came to the United States to escape food or work shortages or political trouble. “Like religion, that kind of patriotism definitely causes a lot of trouble,” he says. In making the point, he talks about the tendency of immigrants to the United States to wax nostalgic about the superiority of the place and the culture they left behind. “That could seem demeaning to the place they called home now—like living with someone who is always talking about a former lover. I used to think, ‘If “home” was so great, why did you leave? And why wouldn’t you just go back?'”


I see the Middle Kingdom between Heaven and Earth
Like the Chinese call the country of their birth
We all figure that our homes are set above
Other people than the ones we know and love
In every place with a name
They play the same territorial game
Hiding behind the lines
Sending up warning signs

The whole wide world
An endless universe
Yet we keep looking through
The eyeglass in reverse
Don’t feed the people
But we feed the machines
Can’t really feel
What international means
In different circles, we keep holding our ground
In different circles, we keep spinning round and round

We see so many tribes overrun and undermined
While their invaders dream of lands they’ve left behind
Better people, better food, better beer
Why move around the world when Eden was so near?
The bosses get talking so tough
And if that wasn’t evil enough
We get the drunken and passionate pride
Of the citizens along for the ride

They shoot without shame
In the name of a piece of dirt
For a change of accent
Or the color of your shirt
Better the pride that resides
In a citizen of the world
Than the pride that divides
When a colorful rag is unfurled


By Sean Jones

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

Notes bracketed by should be played on a synth

q H H q s s s s e e s s s s q
||——-r-|–4 mm.–|-r—-|–3 mm.–|———–r————|–3 mm.-|

w+ h+Q e s s e s s e e e e e+ h+Q e s s e s s e e e e e+ h+

Q e s s e s s e e e e e+ h+Q e s s e s s e e e e e+ h+Q e

s s e s s e e e e e+ H s E w+ w w+ w 3x w+ w h h+ w 5x

s s e s s e s s e s s e 3x s s e s s e s s e e s s e e s

s s s e e e e+ h+Q s s s s s s s s s s e e e e+ h+Q s s s s s

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“Territories” guitar cover

“Territories” bass cover

“Territories” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 7, 2011.

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