Force Ten

Background and Commentary

“‘Force Ten’ is about stripping away the barriers between people, learning to face the world without them.” (Boston Globe)—Neil in Merely Players

“The first song on Hold Your Fire was the last written. ‘Peter Collins [the producer] thought it was important to do one more song,’ said Geddy, ‘so Force Ten was written on the last day of pre-production on Dec. 14 [1986].’ Neil took some lyrics that Pye Dubois [Max Webster lyricist and co-writer of the “Tom Sawyer” lyrics] had mailed to him and added some versus to them. With the changes completed, Neil handed Alex and Geddy the lyrics and they both liked them immediately. A few hours later Rush had written their tenth song for the new album.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

The term “force ten” also refers to the Beaufort Wind Scale.—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

Brisk, tough album opener was written in three hours with cowboy hats on.—Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure

“Before I had a visit from Jeff Berlin [bassist for Bill Bruford and other progressive rock and jazz fusion artists], who’s a friend, on the tour I had the opportunity to watch him goofing around backstage with a bass, and was just amazed at his knowledge of bass chords. That’s something I had never really exploited in my playing, so he inspired me to play around more with it. He probably doesn’t know it, and would be embarrassed to hear it. I ended up using bass chords on ‘Force Ten’ and ‘Turn The Page.’ Not so much in the sense of strumming them as using my thumb more, almost like a finger-picking style of playing, which is something that I’m still working on. Just plucking with my thumb and going back and forth between the thumb and the first two fingers and pulling. Almost like a snapping technique. It’s opened up a bit more range for me. There’s more melodic possibilities and rhythmic possibilities too, which is an important role for the bass player. If you can establish not only a melody but a rhythmic feel, that’s an extra tool.” (Bass Player, 1987)—Geddy in Songfacts

“The song opens with the sound of a jackhammer. The session keyboard player Andy Richards had a sample of it that the band used.—Songfacts

The line “Cool and remote like dancing girls, in the heat of the beat and the lights” is an appreciation for the few females that come to Rush shows and their attempts to dance to the band’s music. “I always loved to see females in the audience singing along, or air-drumming, or even dancing. However, given the complexity and constant changes in our music, even their dancing had to be absorbed in the music—no mindless twitching to a metronomic beat. In our song ‘Force Ten,’ I had expressed my appreciation for that absorption.”—Neil in Roadshow

Two “Force Ten” tribute versions.


Tough times demand tough talk
Demand tough hearts demand tough songs

We can rise and fall like empires
Flow in and out like the tide
Be vain and smart, humble and dumb
We can hit and miss like pride
Just like pride

We can circle around like hurricanes
Dance and dream like lovers
Attack the day like birds of prey
Or scavengers under cover

Look in to the eye of the storm
Look out for the force without form
Look around at the sight and the sound
Look in look out look around

We can move with savage grace
To the rhythms of the night
Cool and remote like dancing girls
In the heat of the beat and the lights

We can wear the rose of romance
An air of joie de vivre
Too tender hearts upon our sleeves
Or skin as thick as thieves
Thick as thieves



Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.


figure1 x3









Am Am G
figure3 guitar tacet

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“Force Ten” guitar cover

“Force Ten” bass cover

“Force Ten” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 8, 2011.

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