On this, the anniversary of this blog’s inception, it seemed fitting to go back to one of the primary reasons I started it in the first place — I like writing about weird stuff. This time around, I’m gonna be taking a look at the ten Rush songs I think don’t get enough time in the, er, Limelight, if you’ll pardon the pun. For whatever reason, these ten songs never got much notice from the general populace (being Rush songs), or even from Rush fans, at least from what I’ve noticed. Obviously, it’s a highly subjective list, and what I consider to be underrated may be considered by another Rush fan to be given exactly what it deserves. Nonetheless, let’s kick off this anniversary celebration with song number ten …
Arguably the least-known song off of the otherwise very well-known 2112, Tears is a very different beast for Rush. Largely acoustic and soft, and featuring some great Mellotron ambiance from cover artist Hugh Syme (entering the musician’s chair for one of the only times in his 40-year relationship with the Guys at Work), Tears covers this ground far better than their previous attempt in Fly By Night’s Rivendell. Tears, as its title would suggest, is positively heart-rending, and showcases lyrics from Geddy Lee, something we’d only see again in 1977’s Cinderella Man and 1982’s Chemistry (and even then only partially). Tears is far from the best song on 2112, but it’s a criminally unappreciated number all the same. I know 2112 is a fantastic song, but come on. Flip your record over sometime.
9. Anagram (for Mongo)
I know, I know. Anagram. It’s a dumb song, right? Well, maybe it is. With lyrics that are, well, anagrams, this song doesn’t make a ton of lyrical sense. It has no overarching meaning, but every line is some sort of micro-poetry, and the song itself has a really soothing piano part that rounds out the various sounds on 1989’s Presto very nicely. I know it’s considered one of Rush’s worse songs, and, yes, maybe it’s not all that cerebral, but at least the lyrics never descend to Dog Years levels of inanity. It’s harmless fun, and it’s named after a damn scene from Blazing Saddles. Come on. Anagram’s great.
8. Kid Gloves
Being one of the only songs on Grace Under Pressure that doesn’t rock entirely in 4/4 is weird enough for Rush, but Kid Gloves stands out as perhaps the only uplifting track on 1984’s P/G. Grace Under Pressure is a heavy, dark, and brooding album straight out of the Cold War-era tensions of the time, and Kid Gloves is refreshingly bright and melodically much lighter, bringing the guitar back to the forefront on an otherwise very synth-heavy album. Kid Gloves has a lot to compete with on P/G, with Red Sector A, Distant Early Warning, and Between the Wheels often stealing the spotlight, but it’s an excellent song in its own right.
7. Grand Designs
Power Windows is one of my favorite Rush albums, and stands above the others in the mid-80s era for outright musicianship. PW has one of the highest ratios of potential hits for a Rush album, with The Big Money, Manhattan Project, Marathon and Mystic Rhythms all standing out as fan favorites. It boggles me that Grand Designs was never on that short list, and to my knowledge is only on one live album (Clockwork Angels Live). Grand Designs is a great look at the ideas underlying the musical climate in the 80s, and has some stellar synths and solos throughout.
6. How It Is
Vapor Trails is hit-or-miss for a lot of Rush fans, largely due to the poor sound quality of the album’s original release. The remixed version has alleviated the bulk of these issues, and How It Is stands out, to me, as one of the strongest tracks on both versions of the album. Like Kid Gloves, it’s one of the more uplifting tracks on an otherwise somewhat gloomy album, and has a really great drive behind its simple message — you can’t change everything, so just deal with how it is. I’m glad they dusted this one off for the R40 tour, because it hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.
5. Vital Signs
I know it’s a little weird to put a track from Moving Pictures, their most famous album, on a list of underrated songs, but Vital Signs is most definitely the least-known. The A-side is all star tracks that any passing Rush listener will recognize immediately, and the other two tracks on the B-side, Witch Hunt and The Camera Eye, are still far better known than the final track. Vital Signs is one of the earliest synth-driven songs Rush did, and the lyrics are excellent, using computer-like terminology to describe human interaction, in a similar fashion to the year before’s Natural Science. Vital Signs is a different beast for Rush, being a sort of synth-driven reggae-sounding beat with some really odd choruses, but there’s just something about this song that I love. You can tell because I named this blog after a lyric from the second verse …
4. Entre Nous
As one of the least-known tracks on a watershed album for Rush, Entre Nous definitely has a difficult time standing in the shadows of tracks like The Spirit of Radio, Freewill, Jacob’s Ladder, and Natural Science, all of which get played a lot on tours and are immediately recognizable. I posit that Entre Nous should be just as immediately recognizable. One of the shorter, tighter tracks on Permanent Waves, Entre Nous has everything a great Rush song needs — meaningful lyrics, a catchy chorus, a great solo section, and just the tiniest bit of French — if only in the title. They busted this one out for the Snakes and Arrows Tour, and it was never heard from before or since, which is sort of a bummer, because Alex’s acoustic work, Neil’s dutiful filling, and Geddy’s lilting vocals over the choruses are all a treat. Entre Nous is one of Rush’s very best songs, but keep that between us.
3. Available Light
What? Another song from Presto? But didn’t I list that as my second-to-least favorite album? Well, yeah, but it’s not really Presto’s fault. Available Light strikes me as one of the biggest victims of the compression problems Presto was rife with, and is one of the only Rush songs even other Rush fans aren’t familiar with, both of which are a huge discredit to this beautiful track. Sometimes, when Rush tries to be emotional or heartfelt they can have a tough time, but that’s not the case with Available Light. Something about the chorus fills the listener with a sense of yearning, and the dark-sounding verses accentuate that extremely well, being backed by quiet drumming and a few sparse piano chords. The song’s title comes out in the structure, and the lyrics, while enigmatic, only serve to round out the whole song, and thus the album, with emotion and depth. It’s really a great song, and one of the best the album has to offer, which is why it boggles me that no one seems to care about it.
What? A song from Snakes and Arrows, my least favorite Rush album? Yes, yes, okay. Snakes is my least favorite album, but only because I have to have one on the bottom of the list and Snakes tends to be a pretty depressing, downer of an album. There’s a solid four or five tracks I still really like from Snakes, and Hope is by far chief among them. It kind of feels like cheating to put this on a list of underrated Rush songs, since it’s really an Alex Lifeson song, consisting solely of a 12-string acoustic with no bass, drums, or vocals. But it really serves as a testament to Alex’s musicianship and his ability to tell a story and convey emotions through a simple 2-minute piece that even I can play. But Hope is complicated in its simplicity, and provides the album proper with a sense of warmth and spirit that it sorely needed. Hope is a light amidst the darkness that is Snakes and Arrows, and stands firmly as my favorite track from that album, and one of my favorite Rush instrumentals.
1. Everyday Glory
I will never, ever understand how this song gets thrown by the wayside. They’ve never played it at a concert, it’s never given its fair shake on any list of top Rush songs or best-of collections, and I never hear anyone talk about it, really, outside of a truly inspiring series of scenes in the new Rush doc, Time Stand Still, which I highly recommend you see. Everyday Glory is not only one of the best songs from Counterparts, it’s one of the best songs from the second half of their career. The lyrics are powerful, the music is carried extremely well by guitar and drums alike, and Geddy’s vocals have never been stronger. Everyday Glory deserves much more love than it gets, and it’s actually the reason I set out to write this list in the first place. Simply put, it is, by far, Rush’s most underrated song.
So? What do you think of that list? I’m sure any given Rush fan will have a different take on what songs never got their fair shake, but I feel like this is a pretty comprehensive look at the various Rush songs through the years that for whatever reason never hit the spotlight, but should’ve. Check them out and see if you agree.