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The 9 Greatest Rush Songs

May 25, 2010  |  7:00am
The 9 Greatest Rush Songs

Last month, we invited the ultimate Canadian power trio perform in our office. Update: They haven’t said no! Of course, they haven’t said yes either. But we here in the Paste office continue to dream the impossible dream.

As we wrote in geeky detail when the tour was announced, the band is going back out on the road, playing the entirety of Moving Pictures and setting hearts aflutter for prog-rock enthusiasts across the land. Their Atlanta show comes at the tail-end of the tour, when the band — Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and it-should-go-without-saying Best Drummer Of All Time Neil Peart — will undoubtedly be looking for diversions. What better way to jazz up those last few dates than to perform here, in a charming suburban enclave, at one of America’s best (and only!) remaining pop-music magazines. We will fawn over your material. We will broadcast your dominating performance on our website. And between songs, we will send our interns to fetch you refreshments such as ice-cold tap water.

The offer stands, gents. To prove our deep knowledge of and enthusiasm for your catalog, we hereby present a list of your Nine Greatest Songs, aka The Songs We Totally Hope You Play When You Stop By Our Office.

9. “Roll the Bones” -The “rap” at the 3:22 mark isn’t pretty, but we give the philosopher kings credit for tackling the meaning of life in song. “Why are we here? Because we’re here. Roll the bones.” Deep.

8. “Red Barchetta” – Peart, a motorcycle enthusiast, wrote this surging paean to the open road: “Wind in my hair / shifting and drifting / mechanical music / adrenaline surge.”

7. “Tom Sawyer” – The lead track from Moving Pictures is the band’s top seller on iTunes. It’s not our favorite. But this is a band that preaches tolerance. So we do not judge.

6. “Limelight” – As an example of Rush’s far-reaching influence, check out this drum-a-long video by some dude in a backwards baseball cap. He’s really good! He even has the stick twirl down. The outro is especially impressive.

5. “YYZ” – Did you know that this song spells out the letters Y-Y-Z in Morse Code — YYZ being of course the airport code for Toronto, a large city in the band’s home country of Canada? Also, did you know that there’s a video of an animated Neil Peart drumming this song whilst floating atop Lake Ontario?

4. “Freewill” – Our single favorite Rush lyric — “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” — comes from this chunky rocker about self-determination. Stick around for the drum-and-bass breakdown before the wailing guitar solo. At the end, Lee’s voice hits high notes only heard by members of the animal kingdom.

3. “Subdivisions” – “Conform or be cast out!” Lee cries, by way of tackling the sort of cliquishness that plagues many a high-school Rush fan.

2. “Working Man” – Rush at its most Zeppelinesque. The primary riff seems straight out of “Whole Lotta Love,” and then Lifeson throws down an uncharacteristically shreddy solo that seems to go on for eternity. Original drummer John Rutsey’s drums hammer. And Lee paints himself as a blue-collar hero.

1. “Spirit of Radio” – Memorably covered by Ted Leo, this crunchy ode to the airwaves sports one of Lifeson’s most indelible riffs.

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