Background and Commentary

“I had used ‘Presto’ in an ironic sense, in wishing that I had magic powers to make things right. And I really just liked the word.”—Neil in Contents Under Pressure

“The song ‘Presto’ reflects me and life as a theme, although I invented the scenario.” (Canadian Musician, 1990)—Neil in Merely Players

“It’s better to radiate light than heat” references a Confucius saying.—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

“Ultimately, I think the lyrics call each person not only to be themselves and fight for what they find important . . . but to work with others for a better world for everyone.”—Chris McDonald, Rush, Rock Music, and the Middle Class

“We just loved playing ‘Presto’ on the Time Machine tour in 2011,” Neil says in a June 12, 2012, Rolling Stone interview,” and we played it in a way that we couldn’t when we were touring in 1989. I remember discussing it with the guys one night over dinner and just saying, ‘That song is so much better than it ever was, and it has a feel that it should have had on the record.’ Geddy said, ‘Well, we have a different clock now.’ That’s true, and such an important, fundamental observation. For me as a drummer, being responsible for that pulse . . . that change happened in the mid-Nineties when I studied with Freddie Gruber and worked really hard on my drumming, and it did give me a different clock. It gave me so much more control and understanding of time and pushing it and pulling it and creating anticipation, tension and release. It can all be done within metronomic time, but it’s not easy. It takes time and it takes understanding.”


If I could wave my magic wand

I am made from the dust of the stars
And the oceans flow in my veins
Here I hide in the heart of the city
Like a stranger coming out of the rain

The evening plane rises up from the runway
Over constellations of light
I look down into a million houses
And wonder what you’re doing tonight

If I could wave my magic wand
I’d make everything all right

I’m not one to believe in magic
But I sometimes have a second sight
I’m not one with a sense of proportion
When my heart still changes overnight

I had a dream of a winter garden
A midnight rendezvous
Silver, blue and frozen silence
What a fool I was for you

I had a dream of the open water
I was swimming away out to sea
So deep I could never touch bottom
What a fool I used to be

If I could wave my magic wand
I’d set everybody free

I’m not one to believe in magic
Though my memory has a second sight
I’m not one to go pointing my finger
When I radiate more heat than light

Don’t ask me
I’m just improvising
My illusion of careless flight
Can’t you see
My temperature’s rising
I radiate more heat than light

Don’t ask me
I’m just sympathizing
My illusions a harmless flight
Can’t you see
My temperature’s rising
I radiate more heat than light



Excerpted from Fretplay.

Most parts are here, but not pieced together coherently.

// – repeat previous beat, single slashes /,\ – slide
(21)F – full bend, etc…

E D A Gsus4 C/G Bbsus2 F


D Csus2 B A/B D, Csus2, Dsus4, D, Dsus2, G, A, G


E A B A E, A, C#5, B/C#

For complete tab, go to Fretplay.


“Presto” guitar cover

“Presto” bass cover

“Presto” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 9, 2011.

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