Top 10 Rush Songs
It took some time, but Rush are finally recognized as rock royalty. After years of being a punching bag for music fans not into complicated time signatures, instrumental grandstanding and twisty sci-fi concepts, Rush saw their reputation swell over the past few years, with famous-people testimonials, movie cameos, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a documentary that made them look like the coolest guys in the world fueling the charge. But their longtime fans already know how awesome they are. And we expect to hear from plenty of them after they read our list of the Top 10 Rush Songs.
‘Time Stand Still’
The most recent track on our list of the Top 10 Rush Songs comes from their 12th album, one of the band’s late-’80s/early-’90s attempts to stretch their music into new territories. The relatively melodic ‘Time Stand Still’ features backing vocals by Aimee Mann — the first time the eternally insular Rush ever worked with another singer.
The opening track to the band’s follow-up to the career-defining ‘Moving Pictures,’ like most of the songs on ‘Signals,’ scales back the epic scope of Rush’s earlier work. Still, the album was a hit with fans, who took it to the Top 10. ‘Subdivisions,’ the first single, has become a concert favorite since its release 30-plus years ago.
Rush’s follow-up to the surprisingly pop-oriented ‘Spirit of Radio’ (see No. 2 on our list of the Top 10 Rush Songs) is more in step with the band’s, um, technically impressive material, with limbs and notes flying all over the place. Guitarist Alex Lifeson even fires off one of his all-time greatest solos midway through.
‘Closer to the Heart’
One of the group’s first songs to crack the Top 100, ‘Closer to the Heart’ remains a regular part of Rush’s live shows and a fan favorite. It sort of sticks out on the album it comes from, ‘A Farewell to Kings,’ because it clocks in at less than three minutes and doesn’t push the thematic concept that barely holds the other songs together. The classical guitar, though, fits right in with the rest.
We can’t be the only ones who’ve played some furious air drums to this popular ‘Moving Pictures’ album track, right? ‘Red Barchetta’ features one of Rush’s all-time tightest group performances, a sleek six-minute ride that takes all the twists, turns and curves as effortlessly as the car Geddy Lee sings about.
Generally regarded by the band’s fiercely loyal fan base as Rush’s masterpiece, the group’s fourth album is really kind of a snooze once you get past the epic title track, which is divided into a 20-minute, seven-movement suite. But that awesome sidelong piece is all the album really needs. The first two parts set it up majestically.
Fans of bloated and eye-rollingly ridiculous prog-rock like to claim ‘2112’ as Rush’s best album (see No. 5 on our list of the 10 Best Rush Songs), but they’re wrong. The band’s true masterpiece is 1981’s ‘Moving Pictures,’ an exercise in restraint, song craft and totally awesome drumming by Neil Peart. It’s also the Rush album containing the least amount of filler. ‘Limelight’ is one of its many highlights.
‘Fly by Night’
The title track to the band’s second album was the song that got teenage boys across the continent to pay attention to the Canadian trio. It’s also the song that pretty much got things rolling for Rush. It features Peart’s first appearance with the group, and it introduces the trio’s stylistic signposts: the rolling drums, the airtight band interplay and Lee’s impossibly high vocals. All that’s really missing are lyrics about soul-crushing dystopias and the winged freedom fighters coming to the rescue.
‘The Spirit of Radio’
‘The Spirit of Radio’ almost became Rush’s first Top 40 hit in 1980 before stopping short of the Top 50. It would have been appropriate — not only because of the song’s theme but also because it features one of the group’s most pop-leaning hooks. Still, the fans love it too because it still sounds like Rush — from the catapulting instrumental passages to Lee’s searing vocal, one of his best.
When ‘Moving Pictures’ was released in early 1981, it quickly became Rush’s most popular album, making it all the way to No. 3 — their highest-charting record at the time. And ‘Tom Sawyer’ climbed to No. 44, their best showing on the singles chart up to that point. It’s one of their most accessible LPs, stuffed with songs that keep out most of the pretentious stuff that people hate about bands like Rush. ‘Tom Sawyer’ is the opening track from ‘Moving Pictures’ and its anchor.