No problem here – this is another of those well-loved Rush classics. Great riff, fantastic drumming, creative instrumentally, and those lyrics – just your average rock ‘n’ roll song about the social implications of the French Revolution…
If I had to find fault with it, it would be nit-picking – the king has knelt, Neil – we have a perfectly good past tense in English; no need to invent your own one – but that’s it, really.
An observation, though – they’re getting really good at these dramatic staccato chords, something which is one of the real early Rush hallmarks, but there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. No problem here, but it would be easy to get carried away.
Hm, another observation – I’m finding it hard to find interesting things to say about songs which are extremely familiar to me – I really like this song, but there are only so many ways I can say that. Still, this album’s off to a cracking start; where next?
I Think I’m Going Bald
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
All I remember of this is that it’s terrible. A ridiculous title, and I seem to remember that the song’s not much better. What were they thinking? Still, before I criticize it any more, I suppose I’d better listen to it…
Well, what do you know?
If I might be permitted a little advice from 30 years in the future? Guys, this is a pretty damn good song – a little too ‘early Rush’ for some, I fear, but a good thing to have on an album where you stretch the boundaries of the ‘new Rush’ – it kind of bridges the gap, and will help to bring people with you. Just one thing – change the title. Call it, oh, I don’t know ‘Peace of Mind’ or ‘Tempo Fugit’ [sic] or ‘The Terrible Revenge of the Green Slimy Thing’. Call it anything; just don’t call it that. Please.
There truly is nothing wrong with this song – heard in the context of the first album, it would be a fine thing indeed – still showing those Zeppelin- and Who- based influences; perhaps trying a little too hard to be witty (witty is not something this band does well – at least not yet), but honestly, it’s pretty good. Listen to it someday; you might be as surprised as I just have been.
“I’ll still be grey my way”. Amen to that, brother.
Sentimental; nostalgic – how old are you, Neil? 50? 60? Come on, keep this stuff in the notebook and bring it out when you need to boost the retirement fund. Frankly, I used to like this song; it’s kind of inoffensive, and has some nice lines, but listening to it now, I get the vision of a man who can’t wait to be middle aged (see song with ill-advised title above). And it doesn’t feel right. This song does not go with this album. It might have fit better on the second side of ‘Fly by Night’, but I’m not even sure about that.
And here’s a thing – how easy is it to sing something like this, when it’s not your memories? I had never thought about this before, but I reckon Geddy doesn’t sound all that convinced by what he’s singing. I may be wrong, but I just get some odd feelings about this. I’ve been listening to these on average three times through before committing my thoughts to keyboard. Third time through, I skipped this one – first time I’ve done that.
I realize some of you may love this song to death. Sorry.
I really had to scratch my head to work out what I was going to say here. Musically, this is terrific stuff – Alex’ solos are quite breathtaking in places, and the whole thing more or less hangs together – I’ll come back to that ‘more or less’ in a minute, if I may. So what was wrong? Why did I come to the end of this and still feel unsatisfied? I’m actually delighted to have rediscovered it, because there are musical ideas in here that I hadn’t remembered, and I can really see where the seeds of ‘2112’ are.
And the problem isn’t that some of these ideas get reused in other, later, songs – that, to me, is one of the marks of greatness; the ability to learn from your earlier efforts, and improve on them. No, the problem is only clear to me when I pay closer attention to the lyrics – in fact, to the way the lyrics interact with the music. It just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work on two levels, possibly three.
Firstly there’s the treated voice introducing each section. It took me a while, but eventually I realized where I had seen it before. It’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’, isn’t it? ‘Chapter One. In which our Heroes set off to find the Necromancer, but it doesn’t look good for them’ I can’t figure out the purpose of having this spoken – it just removes all the drama from the sung lyric.
Secondly, the sung lyric just doesn’t bring anything to the party. We already know what’s going to happen, and then Geddy sings it to us. This is bad enough in the first two sections, but it’s the third where this really doesn’t work. After we’re told about Prince By-Tor’s victory (and incidentally, is this the same By-Tor? Or is it a common enough name in Ontario?) we hear it set to music, and that leads me neatly to…
Thirdly, the music does not fit the lyrics at the most crucial point of the song – and this is what I meant by ‘more or less’ earlier; we hear the three heroes despair and sorrow; the music is perfect for this, then suddenly, there appears to be an almighty battle going on. Where did that come from? What’s going on? Have they escaped and are battling their way to freedom? Once the exhilaration of the battle is over, we’re told that a mighty deus ex machina has swooped in from another song entirely, and won the battle for them.
Then Geddy sings about it, by which time we’re struggling to remember what it sounded like.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some terrific things going on here, and as a dry run for what came after, this is extremely useful – the idea of the introductory passage is properly relegated to the lyric sheet by the time we get to ‘2112’ (as I recall), and the music is allowed to help the lyrics tell the story. In the final analysis, this is a fascinating piece of Rush history – a bit like growing up in public – and I’ll happily listen to it again, but I’ll try not to pay too much attention to the lyrics.