Peaceable Kingdom

Background and Commentary

The title recalls the iconic series of “Peaceable Kingdom” paintings by Edward Hicks, the Pennsylvanian Quaker who made the images the core of his life’s work. The theme of the paintings is the message of peace in chapter 11 of Isaiah: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” In the song, Neil talks about the West thinking it has everything under control with its rational pursuit of truth while a billion radicals elsewhere who don’t share that view are lighting sparks of terror—in other words, until these two very different approaches to truth start trying to understand one another, the peaceable kingdom is a long way off.—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault

“Almost all of ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ is from one jam we did. Then we made the song up from that, added a couple little embellishments, the drums of course. But basically guitar and bass are from that one time. That’s the one time it was played. I really love that idea.”—Geddy in Contents Under Pressure

“‘Peaceable Kingdom’ had a certain feel and energy to [it after we played it in that jam]. You know, you get into the studio and start playing, and you start thinking about it too much, and it becomes a little safe. When you’re not thinking and just playing, it’s coming from a different place, and it’s a beautiful reflection of where you are at that very moment . . . It’s one of my favorites because it’s a great example of all these different elements [using the guitar to play a counterpoint role to bass and drums] and to add in shifts of rhythm, texture, and melody.”—Alex in Contents Under Pressure


A wave toward the clearing the sky

All this time we’re talking and sharing our rational view
A billion other voices are spreading other news
All this time we’re living and trying to understand
Why a billion other choices are making their demands

Talk of a peaceable kingdom
Talk of a time without fear
The ones we wish would listen
Are never going to hear

Justice against the hanged man
Knight of Wands against the hour
Swords against the kingdom
Time against the tower

All this time we’re shuffling and laying out all our cards
While a billion other dealers are slipping past our guards
All this time we’re hoping and praying we all might learn
While a billion other teachers are teaching them how to burn

Dream of a peaceable kingdom
Dream of a time without war
The ones we wish would hear us
Have heard it all before

A wave toward the clearing sky
A wave toward the clearing sky

The hermit against the lovers
Or the devil against the fool
Swords against the kingdom
The wheel against the rules

All this time we’re burning like bonfires in the dark
A billion other blazes are shooting off their sparks
Every spark a drifting ember of desire
To fall upon the earth and spark another fire

A homeward angel on the fly
A wave toward the clearing sky


By Tom Tarbuck (

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

Tuning: Standard Tuning (EADGBe)

I looked everywhere for this tab and couldn’t seem to find it, so I decided to make my own. Knowing Rush, this is probably simplistic compared to the way
it’s actually played, but it works for me. Since this is my first tab, tell me what you think of it!

Main Riff (You need to listen to the timing of the song to play it correctly)

Riff 2 (Again, the song throws the little different riff in random times throughout the
so you’ll need to listen out for it.)

Chorus (Strummed)

Break 1

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“Peaceable Kingdom” bass cover

Back to Rush Vault

~ by rvkeeper on February 16, 2011.

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