Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Twenty Rush Songs That Mean the Most to Me-- Eddie Trunk Edition

Several weeks ago, I was surprised to receive an email from a nice guy who is the producer for Eddie Trunk's satellite radio show.  The reason I was surprised?  In August 2017, I blogged about an internet rumor that started on Eddie's show, about Alex and Geddy (allegedly) reuniting; it wasn't true, as I confirmed when I contacted Alex to make sure.  After that, I noted in my blog the importance of fact-checking and not just sending out rumors to everyone you know, even when it's a rumor you like. 

So, yes, I was surprised when Eddie's producer contacted me, asking if I would submit my top-20 favorite Rush songs for a show about Rush that Eddie was going to do; and he asked if I'd be part of the show, calling in to read my list.  As I've done with other interviewers, I explained that I don't think in terms of "favorite" Rush songs-- these are my friends, and I love them dearly. Asking me to pick favorites is like asking a mom "who's your favorite kid?" Obviously, there are days when one kid or other can be annoying, but over all, most moms love all their kids-- although, perhaps, in different ways.  I'm like that about Rush songs. Yes, there are some that resonate with me more than others.  But "favorites"? Not really.  I love all their songs, although in different ways; and I'm so proud of what Rush accomplished during their long career.

With that said, I agreed to compile a list of twenty songs that have special meaning for me, and I did call in to read the list. (I also was glad I could give a shout-out to female Rush fans, of which there are many.)  Eddie was courteous and it was fun to be on his show. After it was over, several fans who had heard it (or heard part of it) contacted me to ask if I'd publish my list. So, for anyone who is a Rush fan, I'm happy to share what I read to Eddie.  And of course, feel free to let me know some Rush songs that would be on your list.  

1.  (as you might expect) Working Man -- the song that started it all, back in the spring of 1974, and resulted in a more-than-four decade friendship with the band (and members of their families)

2.  Finding My Way (part of the same time frame-- the other song we got a lot of requests for at WMMS... to this day, hearing the opening chords, I get reminds me of those early days when Rush first were becoming popular in Cleveland)

3.  The Spirit of Radio (as a long-time deejay, as well as someone who has seen radio change-- and not always for the better-- this song has always brought up mixed emotions & nostalgia for me)

4.  Freewill (I often quote the lyrics about "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.")

5.  Limelight (more lyrics I love; it's a window into Neil's view of celebrity, and what many fans expect from their favorite rock stars-- "I can't pretend the stranger is a long-awaited friend.")

6.  Driven (my interpretation may be different from some people's, but I hear this song as being about taking control of one's life: "It's my turn to drive.")

7.  The Garden (I often recommend this to anyone who stereotypes Rush as just another hard rock band; this song is a very moving piece of music)

8.  Tom Sawyer (more great lyrics that I often quote, about thinking for yourself -- "his mind is not for rent to any god or government...")

9.  The Big Money (I read this as a song about the excesses of capitalism and the down-side of globalization-- "Big money got a heavy hand, Big money take control, Big money got a mean streak, Big money got no soul.")

10. Closer to the Heart (more lyrics that could apply as much to current events as to the era when they were originally written... "And the men who hold high places, Must be the ones who start, To mold a new reality, Closer to the heart...")

11. Distant Early Warning (I always loved hearing this performed live...the music video was cool too...)

12. Fly By Night (again, this just brings back great memories-- the first studio album with Neil on drums and writing lyrics... I was so excited to hear the guys growing and expanding their musical style)

13. Time Stand Still (some insightful advice about appreciating this present moment, being grateful for what you've got, before it's gone:   "Freeze this moment, A little bit longer, Make each sensation, A little bit stronger, Experience slips away..."

14.  Entre Nous (some absolutely amazing lyrics about love and relationship and being afraid to trust... "We are secrets to each other, Each one's life a novel, No-one else has read, Even joined in bonds of love, We're linked to one another, By such slender threads...")

15.  Show Don't Tell (another song I always enjoyed hearing in concert, and another with very practical down-to-earth lyrics about thinking for yourself and not being swayed by others: "You can twist perceptions, Reality won't budge, You can raise objections, I will be the judge, And the jury...")

16.  Roll the Bones (I just think this is a very creative and catchy song to listen to... something a little different... but a good message about being willing to take risks..."We go out in the world and take our chances, Fate is just the weight of circumstances, That's the way that lady luck dances, Roll the bones...")

17.  New World Man (I was glad this song got some top 40 airplay, back at a time when pop radio was totally resistant to playing any Rush songs at all, and even many album rockers avoided them-- for reasons I never understood...)

18. Anthem (a song from back when Neil was still influenced by Ayn Rand; he ultimately walked away from those beliefs, but some fans still refuse to believe he changed...I felt this song was another example of the progress Rush had made since Neil joined the band... and it sounded good in concert when they played it)

19.  Red Barchetta (I liked the science-fiction influences in the lyrics, plus the song sounded really good on the radio... it still does)

20.  Subdivisions (some people tell me they find the video a bit disconcerting; but the lyrics are insightful, warning us about the dangers of conformity, and what happens when one does not obey society's expectations... "conform or be cast out..." another fine example of Neil's songwriting prowess...)

SO, that is what I read to Eddie Trunk when I was on his show last Friday.  As I said, I have more than four decades of great memories and a deep appreciation for Rush, as musicians and as human beings; but these songs are the ones that have stood the test of time for me.  What do you think of my list?  


  1. Quite a wide choice Donna
    Limelight is big fave of mine too
    Taking off in 747 listening to it on Sony Walkman

  2. Excellent choice of songs, just the ones I figured you would have chosen more or less.

    Of course we know, not unlike choosing a set list, there are so many good ones you have to leave out.

    2112, Circumstances, Jacob's Ladder, Natural Science, Xanadu, Camera eye, Cygnus X1, are such amazing works of art, but if you're keeping it at 20.. those were a great pick!

  3. That was a great choice of songs, just the ones I would figure you to choose.

    Although not unlike choosing a set list, there are so many great songs that have to be left off.

    2112, Circumstances, Natural Science, Jacob's Ladder, Cygnus X-1, Camera Eye, and of course Xanadu, just to name a few amazing works of art.

  4. Some excellent insights there, Donna. Great choices and a nice surprise to see Driven on there. I like that one too and my band Mystic Rhythms is overdue to break that one out again. Speaking of that, I would probably have Mystic Rhythms on my list if I could possibly make one of the hundreds of amazing tunes!

  5. I always wondered what "your" list would look like.
    Thank you for the insight and the introduction of the band to my dad.

    He took me to the "Moving Pictures" tour in 1981.
    I took him to the "Time Machine" tour in was his last RUSH concert before he passed away seven short months later.

    It seemed like going to that concert, that we had come "full circle" with both concerts being Moving Pictures.

    Thank you, Donna!

  6. Donna,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I think so much of the joy the music and lyrics have meant to me through the years and the part you played in it.

    I bookended my 40 plus years of listening with Fly By Night (first song I ever heard as part of a Buffalo concert announcement) and The Garden. A song with special meaning to me.

  7. Great to hear your top 20. Surprised not to see anything from the prog trio: 2112, AFTK, and Hemispheres. Is there a reason for that? So many fans like those albums the best - Along with Waves and MP.

    I'm half asleep but very quickly here is my top 20 that nobody cares about. It's all subjective anyone.

    No particular order. Will start out with the trio I just mentioned:

    2112, Xanadu, Cygnus X-1, Hemispheres Book II, La Villa Strangiato. (Total of 6)

    Waves, MP, Signals Era: Jacobs Ladder (Overall #1), Natural Science, YYZ, Witch Hunt, Subdivisions, Losing It(6 more)

    That time period is clearly my wheelhouse.

    Other 8: Working Man, Red Sector A, After Image, Marathon (live especially), Time Stand Sill, Presto, Cut to the Chase, The Garden.

    By the way, we met for lunch at a Legal Seafood about 10 years now I think. Still have the picture 😁

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. As I explained, these are songs I chose because they resonated with me in some way lyrics-wise, or they reminded me of experiences I had during my years on the air, or they reminded me of specific times in the band's career. Obviously, the fans will choose different songs, and it was also really difficult for me to pick just twenty. I know I left some off, but I hope the ones I selected were okay!

    3. I think a list of any 20 Rush songs would be OK because each fan experiences them all at different times and under different moods. I won't give a whole list because narrowing it down would take me all weekend but I would definitely include Witch Hunt (which always seems to be needed but especially today) and, on the opposite side of the emotion spectrum, Prime Mover (especially the live version that was on the A Show of Hands laserdisc).

    4. Loved your list and the lyrical references.I would've pick many of the same songs. I especially like that you put in the Live versions. RUSH fans know the magic of seeing them live. The live full length version of 2112, on Stages, with The Discovery section, literally brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Just so touching.

    5. Loved your list and the lyrical references. Especially the Live versions. RUSH fans recognize the degree of musicianship on display at The Show. Their live releases are mostly what I listen to. The full length version of 2112, on Stages,Alex playing The Discovery section, brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Just reaches into a guitar players soul and hugs it with love and tenderness.
      So grateful for your role in their Discovery, and your insights on not only their music and what it means to you, but into your friendships with the three stooges we all adore.

  8. ❤️ you are wonderful, your story gives me goose bumps, your devotion is unmatched , and now you make me smile Donna every time I see your post ,I’m burning a cd with your list on It , thank you for sharing, ❤️

  9. Excellent information on your blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us. Amazing insight you have on this, it's nice to find a website that details so much information about different artists.