Today, the news came down from the arbiters of all things rock ‘n' roll that Canada's greatest export, Rush, will finally be inducted into the hallowed chambers of the Rock and Roll of Fame. Considering that they're in a group including Donna Summer (isn't disco rock's arch-nemesis?) and Randy Newman (and ditto twerpy singer-songwriters in glasses?), Rush's membership among rock royalty is well overdue, especially considering they're a classic rock radio staple on both side of the 49th parallel. Also there would be no Primus without Rush, probably! Come on!
The ceremony itself will take place August of next year in L.A., presumably because even the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wants to get as far away from Cleveland as possible. In the interim, to celebrate Rush finally being recognized as the three-headed rock god they are, we put together a list of goofiest Rush songs. Because even if you're a superfan, it's hard to deny how unabashedly, adorably geeky almost everything about Rush is.
1. Cygnus X-1 Book 2: Hemispheres, from Hemispheres
Cygnus X-1 Book 2: Hemispheres is the back-half the conceptual duology that links 1977's A Farewell To Kings and 1978's Hemispheres. And if the words "conceptual duology" aren't nerdy enough, the song describes a brewing civil war between Apollonian logicians and Dionysian revelers. It's a classic battle between intellect and love (or at least wine)! It's also 18 minutes long!
2. By-Tor And The Snow Dog, from Fly By Night
While it's easy to spot a Rush song within seconds by bassist/singer Geddy Lee's spiked castrato vocals, it's drummer Neil Peart who is most responsible for the band's far-flung prog aesthetic. Placed on the Rush payroll for the band's second record, 1975's Fly By Night, Peart's wackadoo influence is most strongly felt on By-Tor And The Snow Dog, an eight-minute mini-epic ("mini" by Rush standards) that closes out the first side of the record. Divided into four sections, with that third section itself divided into four subsections, By-Tor And The Snow Dog signaled Rush's move away from the fairly straight-ahead hard rock of their debut and into uncharted territories myth, science fiction, trans-dimensional flight, talking trees, and whatever the hell else. Great drum solo, too, naturally.
3. Malignant Narcissism, from Snakes and Arrows
In psychology, "malignant narcissism" refers to state of pathological egotism marked by delusions of grandeur and a total lack of conscience. Add in a narrative about a little boy fighting for his dreams and it's pretty much already the perfect, and perfectly named, Rush song. Sadly, as an instrumental, it lacks such a narrative.
4. Tie: The Fountain Of Lamneth and The Necromancer, from Caress Of Steel
If By-Tor And The Snow Dog was an experiment, a lot of the bulbously epic, hard-prog numbers on 1975's commercially doomed Caress Of Steel was full-on black ops, genetic-splicing type stuff. The Necromancer, ludicrously subtitled "A Short Story By Rush," follows three heroes (stand-ins for Rush, presumably, one of whom is the returned Prince By-Tor) questing to destroy an evil wizard who surveys the land with his "evil prism eye." Yes, it's probably inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien. And no, knowing that will not get you laid, ever. Somehow, the nearly 20-minute The Fountain Of Lamneth is even nerdier. The first of Rush's sidelong story-songs, Lamneth follows a young male protagonist (plenty of those in Rush arcana) torn between the influences of the Didacts and the Narpets, embodying the ideals of teachers and parents, respectively. So it's a Rush song, basically.
5. 2112, from 2112
In many ways, the title track to Rush's 1976 LP is their definitive song. Which means it's a 20-miunute suite about a futuristic boy who discovers and ancient guitar and the cabbalistic priests who try to prevent him from playing it. What took people so long to recognize this band's bottomless talent? Yeesh.