Double Agent

Background and Commentary

“‘Double Agent’ was a complete exercise in self-indulgence, and really, it was one of the last things we wrote on the record. We’d written all these songs that were heavily structured and were crafted and meticulously worked on: this note and that note, and this is a song we just wanted to kind of get our yah-yahs out and just have a bit of a rave. And really, it’s one of the goofiest songs I think we’ve ever written, but I’m quite happy with the result. In its own way, I think it’s an interesting little piece of lunacy.” (Radio Special)—Geddy in Merely Players

“I noticed that sometimes if I had a difficult decision to make I’d be weighing up the pros and cons, and my conscious mind would be doing a lot of thinking and worrying, and then suddenly one morning I would wake up and I would know what to do. And a friend of mine was working on a book about the secret war between the CIA and the FBI and asked me to be his reader, as it were. So, in reading that, I read a whole bunch of books on background of the CIA and the KGB and all this stuff, and got totally into the world of espionage. So I thought of using the imagery of espionage, and the whole romance of cloak and dagger, and the Third Man.” (Up close) ‘Wilderness of mirrors’ is a phrase from T.S. Eliot’s poem ‘Gerontion’ and was also applied by former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton to describe the world of espionage, hence the twist on ‘Double Agent,’ reflecting the clandestine workings of dreams and the subconsciousness. (Wilderness of Mirrors)—Neil in Merely Players

“‘Double Agent’ contains joyous, muscular drumming among mischievous chords from Lifeson. It is a track where caution is thrown to the wind, indeed, the song thrown together near the end of the Counterparts process.”—Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure


Where would you rather be?
Anywhere but here
When will the time be right?
Anytime but now

“On the edge of sleep, I was drifting for half the night
Anxious and restless, pressed down by the darkness
Bound up and wound up so tight”

So tight

“So many decisions, a million revisions
Caught between darkness and light”

Wilderness of mirrors
World of polished steel
Gears and iron chains
Turn the grinding wheel
I run between the shadows
Some are phantoms, some are real

Where would you rather be?
Anywhere but here
When will the time be right?
Anytime but now
Where would you rather be?
The doubt and the fear
I know would all disappear
Anywhere but here
Anywhere but here

“On the edge of sleep, I heard voices behind the door
The known and the nameless, familiar and faceless
My angels and my demons at war”

At war

“Which one will lose depends on what I choose
Or maybe which voice I ignore”

Wilderness of mirrors
Streets of cold desire
My precious sense of honor
Just a shield of rusty wire
I hold against the chaos
And the cross of holy fire

Wilderness of mirrors
So easy to deceive
My precious sense of rightness
Is sometimes so naive
So that which I imagine
Is that which I believe

“On the edge of sleep, I awoke to a sun so bright
Rested and fearless, cheered by your nearness
I knew which direction was right”

Was right

“The case had been tried by the jury inside
The choice between darkness and light
The choice between darkness and light”


By Ken Atwell (

Excerpted from Fretplay.

Special Notations:
~ slight vibrato (with left hand or whammy bar)
/ slide up the string (toward pickups)
\ slide down the string (toward the nut)
(12) natural harmonic (fret in parens)
P pull-off
X\ pick slide

You’ll have to familiar with the song or play along with the CD to get the
timing down. Some of the changes can be tricky (a staple of Rush’s music),
so keep with it.

Guitar enters at 0:16 with Riff 1. Play it once.

Riff 1 (medium distortion with chorus)
F C5
E ——————————————————————–
B ——————————————————————–
G ———–7–5–10–9–7–5——17~——2–2–2—-5–5\———
D ——————————15———–3–3–3—-5–5\———
A –5–3–5———————————-3–3–3—-3–3\———
E ——————————————-1–1–1——————

G F C5
E ——————————————————————–
B ——————————————————————–
G ———–7–5–10–9–7–5——4——–2–2–2—-5–5———-
D ———————————-5——–3–3–3—-5–5———-
A –5–3–5————————-5——–3–3–3—-3–3———-
E ——————————3—3——–1–1–1——————

Riff 2 begin at 0:32. Play whole thing and then repeat section between
the vertical bars ONLY 4 times.

Riff 2 (heavier distortion, no chorus)
E ———————–|——————————————–
B ———————–|——————————————–
G ———————–|——————————————–
D ———————–|——————————————–
A ———————–|——————————————–
E –0—0–0—0–0–3–5|-3-0—0–0—0–0–3–5–3-0—0–0—0–0-

C m7+a9 (???)
E ——————————-|
B ——————————-|
G ——–/8—8–8—8–8——-|
D ——–/8—8–8—8–8——-|
A ——–/7—7–7—7–7——-|
E –3–5–/8—8–8—8–8–3–5-|

For complete tab, go to Fretplay.


“Double Agent: bass cover

“Double Agent: drum cover

Back to Rush Vault

~ by rvkeeper on February 13, 2011.

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