Tread lightly when determining the Top 10 Best Rush Songs.
Opinions vary and the faithful quickly cast you out if you dare leave off their favorites or an oh so obvious one. Creating this list was never on my radar as so many strong tracks exist, however, a Top 10 Best Rush Albums certainly floated around over the years. Probably an easier task and the words would flow quite easily. But the challenge of narrowing their catalog to just 10 songs proved interesting therefore challenge accepted.
Rush has 20 studio albums including one collection of covers. If drum solos and exceptional variations accomplished through the live show count, then add another five albums. But for all intents and purposes whittling 40 years of Rush down to 10 songs takes much thought and a bit of care. One must keep in check their emotion detector to avert including or eliminating those tracks that rise or sink based on how they make up the sound track to their life.
But, isn’t that what makes Top 10 song lists so special? Rush boasts a passionate fan base probably on par (if not more than) with those who religiously follow particular sports teams. Of course, what does it for you doesn’t do it for me and how one song affected me hardly resonates with someone else in the same way. Yet, dismissing a clear masterpiece because it’s the only song ever heard on radio anymore doesn’t do anyone any favors. So, with all this in mind, Drew’s Reviews presents the Top 10 Best* Rush songs.
(Note: This list initially started out as an April Fool’s Joke with a lineup including such gems as “Tai Shan,” “High Water” and the filler “BU2B2” but I really could not find 10 bad Rush songs and doing so would ruin an actual Top 10 Best Songs list later.)
As with all other Top 10 lists the * gives me an out because this lineup could very well change in a year but for now these songs represent the Rush fare I’d hate to live without. And as always, this list arrives in no particular order except maybe for #1.
- Everyday Glory – Counterparts
Everyone has a specific song that brings back a specific time in their life. For me, “Everyday Glory” arrived during a trying time and helped bring back my shine. Regardless, “Everyday Glory” boasts a fantastic melody, and delivers heart-tugging emotion both musically and lyrically. In the past, I have sent the parting lines to friends needing their own lift in order to fly. Imagine my delight when this song was featured in the Time Stand Still documentary.
I was glad Counterparts was released on SACD a few years ago allowing me the opportunity to give this all-around phenomenal album the rave review it deserved. Counterparts could have and should have been Rush’s first and only #1 album but the powers-that-be decided to release it alongside Pearl Jam’s sophomore effort.
I don’t hang out in Rush forums but back when the internet was new and fun I commented in a Rush chat room that the band had a number of stellar album-closing songs to which someone else agreed and said “Available Light” was a favorite. Don’t know why I remember that.
- Distant Early Warning – Grace Under Pressure
Many years ago, a classmate told me he picked up two Rush albums given away at (if memory serves me correctly) a swap meet. Knowing I was a Rush fan, he offered me one. I already had 2112 and the other one I had never heard before. Turns out it was the brand new album Grace Under Pressure. When I got home that day, my older brother was on his way with my mom to go get the new Rush album. Oh you mean Grace Under Pressure as I held up the cassette. I think that was the day he left Rush for Adam Ant. For some time after I thought maybe my copy was pirated but turns out the beginning static was actually intentional.
To this day I don’t know the exact details behind the story of free Rush albums and I also don’t know why “Distant Early Warning” doesn’t rank alongside the staples played on every tour. A Rush classic combining a perfect mix of synths, guitar, bass and percussion.
- 2112 – 2112
Not including the song that ultimately saved Rush’s career would probably border on blasphemous or at least just plain stupid. But how can anyone not include this 20-minute long opus? As a kid, I never much listened past the “Overture” and “The Temples of Syrinx” but later when I finally found a 2112 record containing the album lyrics, I listened all the way through while reading along with the words. It was a moment I won’t forget. Someday, maybe I’ll get a chance to meet Mr. Lifeson and after he realizes I’m not weird, I’ll ask him why in the heck didn’t the band just extend the song to 21 minutes and 12 seconds.
- The Main Monkey Business – Snakes and Arrows
All the recent talk about “La Villa Strangiato” thanks to the 40th Anniversary release of Hemispheres was not enough to change my mind on Rush’s best instrumental. Rush incorporates so many segments, a variety of hooks and melody changes into “The Main Monkey Business” off 2007’s Snakes and Arrows it feels like a mesh of songs expertly combined into one track displaying the band’s prowess of incorporating constant time signature changes with complex arrangements. Sorry if you missed the chance to see this song played live.
- Red Barchetta – Moving Pictures
“Red Barchetta” is just one of three songs I’ve tuned into that thoroughly invites the listener into a fully told story inside the confines of a standard length rock composition. (Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and Metallica’s “One” the other two.) Red Barchetta often feels like the kid brother to “Tom Sawyer” off Moving Pictures but like lots of Rush songs, “Red Barchetta” pays dividends to last a lifetime.
- Time Stand Still – Hold Your Fire
Little did Rush fans know in 1987, but Rush would prove a bit prophetic as we can only wish that time would indeed stand still. Rarely, does Rush throw an emotional punch but like #1 on this list “Time Stand Still” makes you reflect upon your life and in many ways live for the past. Yes, the video turned out quite comical but the melody makes you long for more. And more Rush – just a little bit longer.
- Headlong Flight – Clockwork Angels
After a scintillating performance at the Honda Center in Anaheim during the Clockwork Angels tour the guy in front of me turned to his friend and with a mind-blown look on his face asked “What was the name of that song?” That’s how good it was and that’s how good “Headlong Flight” is. If you’re not up to speed on Rush you can find this song buried somewhere in the Clockwork Angels album.
- Secret Touch (Remixed) – Vapor Trails
Once you have heard the remixed version of Vapor Trails you probably won’t go back to the original release. It’s that much better and you have to wonder how was this version not released in the first place! Vapor Trails Remixed probably makes my Top 10 albums list and though “One Little Victory” was the first sign of Rush’s return after their extended absence, “Secret Touch” ended any doubts that they were back and in fine form.
- Freewill – Permanent Waves
Little needs saying about the radio staple and fan favorite “Freewill.” The build-up to the guitar solo culminating with Geddy Lee reaching the stratosphere on his falsetto never gets old.
- Roll the Bones (Roll the Bones), Caravan and The Wreckers (Clockwork Angels), Xanadu (A Farewell to Kings), Far Cry (Snakes and Arrows), Working Man (Rush)
I can’t pick. It’s like asking to choose my favorite among 17 children. So maybe I should work on the Top 10 Rush Albums.
Honorable Mention: Closer to the Heart (Live) – Different Stages
Since this list focused on studio releases, “Closer to the Heart” was not eligible but I felt the live version of Different Stages needed mentioning. Every tour Rush played Close to the Heart they seemed to build upon the foundation created on the album version and made it better and better until it reached perfection during the Test for Echo tour. When Lee drops the bass and rips with it then Lifeson softly enters before taking over on guitar the band far surpassed what was recorded in a mere two minutes and 52 seconds. They should have done more of the free play jam sessions.