The Big Wheel

Background and Commentary

“‘The Big Wheel’ is one of the pieces in which we see a lonely, suburban character. Other songs include ‘Circumstances,’ ‘The Analog Kid,’ and ‘Middletown Dreams.’ Music critic Bob Mack in his 1990 review of Presto says ‘Rush has been the only band that matters to lone-wolf suburban kids.’ Although this is typecasting, there is no doubt that Rush addressed such an audience directly.”—Christopher McDonald, Rush, Rock Music, and the Middle Class

“‘The Big Wheel’ seems to be autobiographical, but it’s really not. It’s where I’ve looked for a universal of that trade-off between innocence and experience, and that song certainly addresses that. Not in the circumstances of my own life so much. [Rather], I want to find universal things that others can relate to, and that’s a thing that’s part of everyone’s life, so I think that’s probably one reason why I’m drawn to it. And then so much of it is drawn from observing people around me, too, so that becomes a factor in it too; how they responded to life, and how they take to it. How they adapt to that innocence and experience thing.” (Radio Special)—Neil in Merely Players

“The allusion might be to visionary poet William Blake and his Songs of Innocence and Experience.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players


Well, I was only a kid—didn’t know enough to be afraid
Playing the game, but not the way the big boys played
Nothing to lose—maybe I had something to trade

The way the big wheel spins

Well, I was only a kid, on a holy crusade
I placed no trust in a faith that was ready-made
Take no chances on paradise delayed
So I do a slow fade

Playing for time
Don’t want to wait for heaven
Looking for love
For an angel to forgive my sins
Playing with fire
Chasing something new to believe in
Looking for love

The way the big wheel spins

Well, I was only a kid, cruising around in a trance
Prisoner of fate, victim of circumstance
I was lined up for glory, but the tickets sold out in advance

The way the big wheel spins

Well, I was only a kid, gone without a backward glance
Going for broke, going for another chance
Hoping for heaven – hoping for a fine romance
If I do the right dance

Wheel goes round, landing on a twist of faith
Taking your chances you’ll have the right answers
When the final judgment begins
Wheel goes round, landing on a leap of fate
Life redirected in ways unexpected
Sometimes the odd number wins

The way the big wheel spins



Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

Gtr I
H. +E E +H. +E E
| Gtr II
| H. +E E +H. +E E
| Gtr III
| |–3—|
| E E E E E E S S S +E E E E E E E E E

+H. +E E +H. +E E
| +H. +E E +h +E E
| |–3—| |–3–|
| E E E E E E S S S E E E E E E E S S S E

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“The Big Wheel” bass cover

“The Big Wheel” drum cover (starts at 00:30)

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~ by rvkeeper on February 11, 2011.

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