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100 Greatest Rush Songs of All Time.

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

The second of our "The 100" lists takes on my all time personal favorite band, the Canadian power trio Rush.  At the time I prepared this list in 2017 there is every indication that Rush, as the trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart are finished.  Neil Peart has settled into, by all accounts, a comfortable retirement.  There have been rumors and speculation that Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson might revive their act in some form but not as Rush.  So, with that in mind, this may well be the final chapter in the classic Rush era and what a great one it was.  Over forty years of amazingly complex songs, lyrics, and concepts.

Unlike the Top 100 Greatest Acts in Rock and Pop Music History, this list will be far more subjective.  Yes, there are ways to basically quantify things- album sales and such.  But this is my love letter to the music, craftsmanship, and ideas of Rush so it is going to be very subjective.  Your list may (and probably will, and probably should) be different.  However, I will make a case for each of these songs and I hope, perhaps, you might even find a new appreciation for a forgotten tune or two along the way.

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If you want to introduce Rush to new people this might not be the list to use, I already did an article on that.  This list is for Rush fans and dives deep into their catalog.  This is for the nerdiest of nerds, the geekiest of geeks, and biggest of fans.  I've always said, the music of Rush isn't for everyone (only the smart ones) and it isn't music you can dance to (it's music you can think to).  So sit back and debate until your heart is content but here is my case for the top 100 songs by Rush.

The Process...

This one was simple.  I limited it only to studio recorded songs off of the nineteen studio albums.  No live albums were considered for this list nor was the studio album Feedback which consisted of all cover songs (Even though one of my favorite Alex Lifeson guitar parts come from the cover of Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth).  All elements of the song were considered including musicianship, lyrics, atmosphere, construction, and if a song were part of an over-arching concept album such as 2112 I also considered how it fit into the wider story.  Popularity or sales of a song did not carry any weight in my ranking.

1) Tom Sawyer

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No surprise right? It is probably Rush's best known and most mainstream song.  But it is a classic for a reason.  While I might have been tempted to put some deep cut at number one, the truth of the matter is I have listened to Tom Sawyer since I was in High School and if it comes on the radio today I still listen to it.  The song holds up musically and lyrically.  Neil Peart said it best when he said that playing the song never gets old because it is still difficult to play.  The song is famous for it's keyboard growl, the relentless drumming, deeply convicting lyrics, and catchy driven guitar and bass work.  If you were going to introduce a friend to Rush this is probably the song you would use to do it.  The world is, the world is- Love and life are deep.
Maybe as his skies are wide
.  (Album:  Moving Pictures: 1981)

2) 2112

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This is the medley of songs that really broke Rush into the mainstream.  Most non-Rush fans probably only know part two of the sweeping seven part song The Temples of Syrinx but Rush fans know the entire first side of the record contains the rock opera of 2112 and tells the entire story from Overture to Grand Finale.  This song literally has it all from complex instrumentals, to heavy metal, to a ballad.  Sitting through all 20:34 of this epic song will take you on a dystopian ride musically and lyrically.  And, yes, if you want to really rock out push the needle over to The Temples of Syrinx.  It was with this album that we got the symbolic "Star Man" iconography taken from the lyrics.  Oh, what a nice, contented world. Let the banners be unfurled. Hold the Red Star proudly high in hand. (Album:  2112: 1976)

3) Closer to the Heart

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Possibly the only Rush song your wife or girlfriend will listen to with you.  Yes, this song musically comes off as a nice softer 1970s ballad and the phrase "Closer to the Heart" evokes thoughts of romantic love but that isn't what the song is about.  Once again, Neil Peart weaves a wonderful web of words in this plea for the best of us to help out the less of us.  This song preaches that no matter what your station in life, you play an important role and it is up to all of us, great and small, to make the world a better place.  That is the larger theme of the Farewell to Kings album from which this song comes.  And the men who hold high places must be the ones who start to mold a new reality, closer to the heart. (Album:  A Farewell to Kings: 1977)

4) Limelight

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Limelight from the Moving Pictures album is another mainstream song for Rush that many people know from classic rock radio.  The song is Neil Peart's love letter to introverts everywhere.  The public scrutiny and loss of anonymity that accompanies fame was hard for Peart to deal with and he struggled with it through the entirety of his career.  Yet, who among us can't relate to wanting some privacy in our lives.  It seems many want to be "the star" but few are able to cope with the forfeiture of normalcy that comes along with it.  This song is also famous for Alex Lifeson's grinding guitar riff which opens the song which gives way to the Neil Peart's drumming cranking up like an engine. Living in a fish eye lens, Caught in the camera eye. I have no heart to lie. I can't pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend. (Album:  Moving Pictures: 1981)

5) The Spirit of Radio

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Yet another classic rock radio regular, this one from Permanent Waves in 1980.  But again, these classic rock staples have stood the test of time for a reason.  This song is Neil Peart's love letter to the radio and his lament at the music business.  The song is musically powerful with Alex Lifeson's ripping opening followed by Geddy Lee's ample bass line.  Many people are enamored by the reggae influence of the song but I actually think that is it's weakest link.  Experimental at the time, I think it actually dates the song somewhat.  That, however, is a minor criticism and to me it is easily in the top five Rush songs no matter how you slice it.  Off on your way, Hit the open road, There is magic at your fingers. (Album: Permanent Waves: 1980) 

6) Subdivisions

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This one will be divisive.  This song is one of the highlights of the synthesizer era of Rush which split many fans and is our first offering off of Signals which was the follow up to Moving Pictures.  The song is certainly very heavy on synthesizers but lyrically it is one of Neil Peart's greatest songs.  Despite the music being many degrees less heavy than the band's previous years, this is probably one of their more relatable songs.  The song about teenage marginalization rings true to many social outcasts regardless of their background.  I have already written a lengthy article on the social impact of this song- hereGrowing up it all seems so one-sided, Opinions all provided, The future pre-decided, Detached and subdivided. (Album: Signals: 1982)

7) The Garden

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It is fitting, I think, that the last song on the last studio album that Rush may ever put out still lands in the top 10.  There is something to be said by going out on top.  It is impossible to listen to this song and not realize that this puts a nice bow on everything Neil Peart has ever written.  A final and wise reflection on a life of purpose and meaning.  While Clockwork Angels is far from my favorite Rush album there are many stand out moments and few stand out more than this song.  But it isn't just Neil Peart's exquisite final lyrics, this is one of the best vocal performances of Geddy Lee during the later period of Rush and contains one of my favorite (and one of Geddy's favorites as well) Alex Lifeson guitar solos.  The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect. So hard to earn, so easily burned. In the fullness of time a garden to nurture and protect. (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

8) Witch Hunt

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I know there are very few people who will agree with this song being ranked this high, especially above so many other crowd favorites, but I told you this list was subjective and I absolutely love this song and believe it to be one of Rush's most criminally under rated songs.  I have written about it previously- here.  I have talked about how it impressed a set a values on my life that I wasn't otherwise exposed to.  In the divisive world we live in today I think this song deserves another look.  It's lyrics ring more true today than when they were written.  Musically the song builds to a perfect crescendo and features some of the most furious drumming you will ever hear.  If this one has slipped past you over the years I implore you to give it another listen.  Quick to judge, Quick to anger, Slow to understand. Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand. (Album: Moving Pictures: 1981)

9) YYZ

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Our first instrumental makes an appearance and, of course, it had to be YYZ.  I mean people SING ALONG with this instrumental song at concerts.  The letters YYZ are the airport designation sign for the Toronto International Airport, obviously, a comforting sight to the road weary band.  It wasn't until years later that I learned that the music at the beginning of the song was Morse Code for YYZ.  A wonderfully complex and catchy instrumental from the Moving Pictures album.  I encourage you to check out the Rush in Rio version of this song live for the sight of tens of thousands of Portuguese speakers singing along to the song.  (Album: Moving Pictures: 1981) 

10) La Villa Strangiato

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I am sure there will be some who are infuriated that I ranked YYZ above La Villa Strangiato.  I recognize that one is a nice difficult arrangement and one is an absurdly difficult arrangement meant for only the grandest of Maestros!  I offer no excuse other than you can digest YYZ a little easier while you don't really listen to La Villa Strangiato so much as you study it.  It draws you in, captures you, confounds you, and amazes you.  Many a musician have cut their teeth on perfecting parts of this song.  For musicians, no matter if your instrument is drums, bass, or guitar, this is Rush at it's finest. (Album: Hemispheres: 1978)

11) Natural Science

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Natural Science is not a song you can dance to.  Don't even try it.  It is a complex mix of time signature changes, tempo changes, thematic changes, and more.  Lyrically, this song is a tour de force of complicated ideologies and thoughts.  Starting out as a near ballad the song goes through a variety of stylistic changes before wrapping up 9:17 later.  Like I said, it's not a song you can dance to.  However, if you want to be challenged on thoughts on, well, science, then you probably aren't going to get that from the Bee Gees.  You can, on the other hand, dance to them.  A simple kind mirror to reflect upon our own. All the busy little creatures chasing out their destinies. Living in their pools they soon forget about the sea. (Album: Permanent Waves: 1980)

12) Red Barchetta

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Occasionally (rarely), Neil Peart comes down from Mount Rushmore (see what I did there?) to write about more mundane things than science and theology.  This is a song about a car.  Well, we all know Mr. Peart isn't going to leave it there, it's actually about a dystopian future where cars have been banned yet a young man knows where his uncle keeps the fictional Red Barchetta stored and takes it out for an occasional joy ride much to the dismay of authorities in their giant Air Cars.  Yeah, it's complicated.  But it's Rush, what did you expect?  I strip away the old debris that hides a shining car. A brilliant red Barchetta from a better vanished time. (Album: Moving Pictures: 1981)

13)  Freewill

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Here is another classic rock radio staple and this one isn't even on Moving Pictures.  Another entry from Permanent Waves is Freewill a song about, well duh, freewill, religion, and spirituality, and such.  The pragmatic Peart puts down some heavy lyrics once again.  This song, to me at least musically, isn't as strong as some of the others. It's not that they do anything wrong (of course they don't) it's just that the tempo of the song is a little clunky to me.  Still, this is one of the more mainstream recognizable Rush songs and it is for a reason- it's a solid song with some really provocative lyrics.  I do give Geddy Lee props for screaming "A cell of awareness" which is unlikely to appear in any other song by any group other than Rush.  There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance a host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.  (Album: Permanent Waves: 1980)

14) The Pass

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What happens if you asked the members of Rush themselves what their favorite Rush song was?  Well someone did, and they said The Pass off of 1989's Presto.  Presto is actually a very under rated album.  It falls outside of their peak popularity in the early 1980's and after the much maligned synthesizer era of the mid-1980's.  The Pass is a sad song yet hopeful.  Suicide has been on such an astronomical rise in the United States since this song came out making it, once again, more relevant now than when it was first penned.  All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer by the stars. (Album: Presto: 1989)

15) Working Man

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Here is our first entry off of the debut album for Rush in 1974.  The first Rush album might not have had the complexity of the Neil Peart era but the first Rush album rocks! They are often criticized for their first album sounding like a Led Zeppelin clone but Working Man sounds nothing like Zeppelin.  I usually don't mind long player Rush songs but Working Man goes just a little too long for my tastes, so I suppose that would be the only criticism I have.  The song has gotten some mainstream exposure over the last few years so good for them.  It's a song any working class person can relate to and Alex Lifeson lays down some solid rock and roll riffs on it.  I get up at seven, yeah and I go to work at nine. I got no time for livin', yes, I'm workin' all the time.  (Album: Rush: 1974)

16) Far Cry

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Another modern era addition to our list.  Snakes & Arrows is one of my favorite modern era Rush disks and this song got considerable mainstream play, more so than any Rush song in a long time.  Far Cry is a hard rocking tune.  Aside from more good Neil Peart lyrics this song absolutely rocks and sounds very modern and contemporary.  Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson show they can still play great hard rock well into their fifties... er sixties.  One day I feel I'm on top of the world and the next it's falling in on me. I can get back on. I can get back on. (Album: Snakes & Arrows: 2007)

17) The Trees

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One thing I give Neil Peart credit for is that he writes lyrics and phrases no other writer on God's green Earth would put into their songs.  Sometimes Peart can be ham-fisted or even, dare I say it, pretentious.  Sometimes, even downright corny especially on early albums but you have to give the guy props for putting down some imaginative stuff.  The Trees feature some high-brow ideas, to be sure, and is the only song written since mankind started writing ten-thousand years ago to use a line like "now there's no more oak oppression."  Well played.  This song has been a favorite of mine since I was a teen. The trouble with the maples, and they're quite convinced they're right, they say the oaks are just too lofty and they grab up all the light. (Album: Hemispheres: 1978)

18) Red Sector A

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Red Sector A is a powerful song from the appropriately title Grace Under Pressure album.  While it falls into the much maligned synthesizer era of Rush, I have to defend that era somewhat.  While I could do without the layered keyboards I think Neil Peart was at the apex of his lyrical powers during this time.  Red Sector A is a song that sucks you right into it's story- a horrible story of concentration camp survival.  Add to that the fact that Geddy Lee's parents, Morris and Mary Weinrib were both concentration camp survivors and listen to him sing these powerful lyrics.  In a world full of hate this song gives you much pause to reflect.  One of the most powerful pieces of the synthesizer era and the keyboards actually make this song better not worse.  Sickness to insanity. Prayer to profanity. Days and weeks and months go by. Don't feel the hunger, too weak to cry. (Album: Grace Under Pressure: 1984)

19) Leave That Thing Alone

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A beautifully, catchy, and haunting instrumental from Counterparts and sequel to Where's My Thing? from the previous album .  Geddy Lee is front and center on bass guitar here and Alex Lifeson has some wonderfully melodic guitar moments during the song.  While this instrumental might not be as well known as YYZ or La Villa Strangiato, it is still one of their most beautiful.  Every instrument is in perfect harmony on this song complimenting each other well.  For bass players this is a great song to sharpen your chops on.  For guitarists it is a great example of atmosphere.  For drummers... well it's Neil Peart isn't it? (Album: Counterparts: 1993)

20) Where's My Thing?

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This is a funky instrumental from the Roll the Bones album.  There are some hits and misses on Roll the Bones.  I personally liked the album but even I admit there are a few misfires on there.  This is not one of them. Another great bass guitar feature for Geddy Lee.  The song also features some great, yet somewhat subdued, guitar riffs from Alex Lifeson.  Neil Peart's drumming is a little more featured on this song than the sequel Leave That Thing Alone.  Funky and catchy. (Album: Roll the Bones: 1991)

21) Animate

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The 1993 Rush album Counterparts is a favorite of the band.  They have often spoken about how they felt there were firing on all cylinders during this record.  I am not as enamored with Counterparts as they are.  I feel musically it is good but there are many better standouts and I also think that Neil Peart's lyrics are a bit clunky on this album.  There are a few standouts, however, and Animate is one of them.  After the synthesizer heavy 1980s it's nice to hear a hard driving song like Animate that is just pedal to the medal from the opening.  Hard driving guitars, bass, and drums.  This is good, perfectly seasoned Rush.  Polarize me. Sensitize me. Criticize me. Civilize me. Compensate me. Animate me. (Album: Counterparts: 1993)

22) The Enemy Within

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I am a bigger fan of the fear series than most people.  I guess it just speaks to me.  I got on-board with Witch Hunt and stayed that way.  Again, this song suffers from the time period it was released in.  Many people turned away from Rush around the time Signals was released after gaining a legion of fans through hard rocking offerings like 2112 and Moving Pictures.  This is not that.  This is something different.  Lyrically the song is very good and speaks to the inner fears that most people wrestle with. Pounding in your temples and a surge of adrenaline. Every muscle tense to fence the enemy within. (Album: Grace Under Pressure: 1984)

23) A Farewell to Kings

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This song doesn't get enough love, especially since we are seemingly living in a world described in this dystopian epic.  From the album of the same name in 1977, Neil Peart penned this song when he was still writing very lengthy and fantasy influenced songs.  A Farewell to Kings (the album) speaks in many songs about good people trying to make the world better while bad people try to hang onto power.  The imagery is stark and somewhat bleak.  The music even has, I'm not sure how to describe it, sort of a renaissance flare to it.  I don't think that's even a thing but it is now.  Scheming demons dressed in kingly guise. Beating down the multitude and scoffing at the wise. (Album: A Farewell to Kings: 1977)

24) A Passage to Bangkok

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While side one of the 1976 2112 album was dedicated solely to the story of 2112, side two offered some more radio friendly shorter songs.  While not a classic rock radio staple, A Passage to Bangkok is still a song you might actually hear on the radio from time to time.  The song features a recognizable guitar riff and psychedelically inspired lyrics.  While the Grateful Dead and Rush are often compared in terms of having passionate fan bases, musically they are very dissimilar.  This song is about as close musically as the two will ever meet.  In other words, yes it is about drugs.  Wreathed in smoke in Lebanon we burn the midnight oil. The fragrance of Afghanistan rewards a long day's toil. (Album: 2112: 1976)

25) Fly By Night

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The title song of the first album of the Neil Peart era of Rush.  While it lacks the lofty sci-fi themes that would come later, Fly By Night is still a perfectly good, tight, classic rock song.  The guitar riff by Alex Lifeson is not overly complex but it is memorable.  The lyrics speak of a coming of age set of emotions and the band blends really well.  The song is pretty mainstream sounding but I've seldom heard it on classic rock radio.  The song is well constructed and not too over the top to use as an introduction to new Rush fans. Why try? I know why. The feeling inside me says it's time I was gone. Clear head, new life ahead. It's time I was king now not just one more pawn. (Album: Fly by Night: 1975)

26) By-Tor and the Snowdog

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This is a fan favorite and fun song from Fly By Night, the first Neil Peart participating album.  By-Tor and the Snowdog is one of those early Rush epic tale songs apparently inspired by two actual dogs observed by the band at a party to which Peart then penned an epic fantasy tale.  The song is up-beat and driving and fun.  Is it silly? A little bit but with the bands famous sense of humor it totally fits.  If you haven't listened to By-Tor and the Snowdog in a while it is well worth revisiting, it's probably better than you remember. The Snow Dog, ermine glowing in the damp night, coal-black eyes shimmering with hate. (Album: Fly By Night: 1975)

27) Xanadu

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This is another early Rush epic that clocks in at just over eleven minutes. This song is musically complex and based on the unfinished poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Neil Peart lyrically gives his spin on the Coleridge story while the band writes a musically complicated set utilizing a number of exotic instruments, especially on percussion.  If you have ever seen photos of Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson playing double neck guitars it is likely this song they were playing.  The best comment I ever heard about Xanadu is, "Xanadu isn't a song you listen to, it's a song you experience." To stand within the Pleasure Dome decreed by Kubla Khan. To taste anew the fruits of life, the last immortal man. (Album: A Farewell to Kings: 1977)

28) Circumstances

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Circumstances from the Hemispheres album sort of snuck up on me as a favorite.  I was many years into being a Rush fan before I really took to this song.  It is a good driving short rock song from an era where Rush were writing album spanning epics.  It also includes one of my favorite Alex Lifeson guitar riffs.  The song is also known for featuring one line in French.  All the same we take our chances laughed at by time. Tricked by circumstances. Plus ca change. Plus c'est la meme chose. The more that things change, the more they stay the same. (Album: Hemispheres: 1978)

29) Anthem

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This song is the first track off of Fly By Night.  It is from the era where Neil Peart was enthralled by author Ayn Rand a subject that has became highly controversial over the years.  The song is based on the Ayn Rand novel Anthem which describes a dystopian future where collectivism has lead to the loss of singular identity.  The philosophy embedded in the song was associated with the band for years.  The lofty ideals and philosophical focus stand in stark contrast to the straight ahead rock songs of the pre-Neil Peart era. Live for yourself, there's no one else more worth living for.  Begging hands and bleeding hearts will only cry out for more. (Album: Fly By Night: 1975)

30) Distant Early Warning

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This is another song from the synthesizer era of Rush.  Again, I know I've stated this before, but if you tune out of the synth era of Rush you are missing some of Neil Peart's best lyrical work.  Peart had lost a lot of his ham-fisted and over the top concepts in favor of much more subtlety.  This song also features probably one of Rush's best known music videos which got considerable rotation on MTV and still today plays often on the classic video channels.  Left and rights of passage. Black and whites of youth. Who can face the knowledge that the truth is not the truth. Obsolete. Absolute, yeah. (Album: Grace Under Pressure: 1984) 

31) Camera Eye

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This is an eleven minute suite and the longest song on the Moving Pictures album.  The song is an audio travelogue describing both New York City and London.  Neil Peart uses wonderfully descriptive language and the song is musically complex.  Again, it is not a song you can dance to but for students of musical structure and descriptive writing it is a very strong piece.  I feel the sense of possibilities. I feel the wrench of hard realities. The focus is sharp in the city. (Album: Moving Pictures: 1981)

32) Entre Nous

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This is a deep cut off of Permanent Waves that many, even casual, Rush fans might not be familiar with but it is well worth your time to check out.  Of the three singles released off of Permanent Waves (Spirit of Radio, Freewill, and Entre Nous) this song featured, far and away, the least amount of radio play and wasn't even performed in concert until the 2007 Snakes and Arrows tour. Still, this is a hidden gem and a song highlighting the softer side of Rush. We are islands to each other. Building hopeful bridges on a troubled sea. Some are burned or swept away. Some we would not choose but we're not always free. (Album: Permanent Waves: 1980)

33) Vital Signs

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This is a deep cut off of Moving Pictures.  Because Moving Pictures is packed with great songs (I argue there isn't a bad one on it) this song is criminally overlooked and includes a great Alex Lifeson guitar riff.  Vital Signs uses an analogy by Neil Peart comparing relationships to electronics which is just about the most Rush thing ever.  The bass line is also memorable and, well, perfect. Everybody got mixed feelings about the function and the form. Everybody got to deviate from the norm. (Album: Moving Pictures: 1981)

34) Mission

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Another synthesizer era entry to our list. I remember being a big fan of Hold Your Fire for several years but I was surprised to see that when I put the songs down on this list it didn't hold up that well.  I knew that the band didn't look back at this album as one of their best but there are a few golden nuggets on there and Mission is one of them.  Mission is strong, in my opinion, because of two things.  First, Neil Peart's lyrics during this era and on this song are fantastic. He again struggles with his clear and obvious drive and work ethic verses his comfortableness with fame.  He really hit his stride as a writer during this time.  Secondly, Alex Lifeson's guitars were often lost during the synth era but there is a beautiful Lifeson solo in this song near the end.  If their lives were exotic and strange they would likely have gladly exchanged them for something a little more plain. Maybe something a little more sane. (Album: Hold Your Fire: 1987)

35) The Weapon

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Again, this song is maligned because of the heavy keyboard presence but I include it in my list because it is Part 2 of the "fear" trilogy.  While musically this song leaves a lot to be desired by Rush fans (the most prominent instrument is the keyboard) I believe this is prime Neil Peart writing.  Without being ridiculous, over the top, or heavy handed, he delivers a powerful warning about organized religion and how it uses fear to control people.  If you can stomach the synthesizer it is worth giving it a fresh listen for lyrical content alone.  Like a steely blade in a silken sheath we don't see what they're made of. They shout about love, but when push comes to shove they live for the things they're afraid of. (Album: Signals: 1982)

36) Marathon

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We continue in the synth era of Rush with another of the gems off of the Power Windows album.  Again, I remember liking this album a lot more than this list indicates and I don't know if that means it didn't hold up over time or if Rush just made so much good music since then.  I think it is a little of both.  Once again it is the strength of the lyrics that land this song in the top 40.  More than just blind ambition. More than just simple greed. More than just a finish line must feed this burning need. In the long run. (Album: Power Windows: 1985)

37) Working Them Angels

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I am a big fan of the Snakes and Arrows album.  I realize when set alongside the entire body of Rush's work it doesn't look like it ranks that high but to me Snakes and Arrows represented some of the strongest work the band had done in a while (perhaps in the last ten years).  I loved Working Them Angels from the first time I heard it.  The song might as well be my biography and I am betting a lot of other people feel the same. All my life I've been workin' them angels overtime. Riding and driving and living so close to the edge. (Album: Snakes & Arrows: 2007)

38) Nobody's Hero

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This is another song that took a while to grow on me. Again, I was not as enamored with Counterparts as Rush was.  Even to this day, twenty-four years (!) later, I am still not as in love with that album as many other people.  Of the stronger songs on the album this one is mentioned by many people as being their favorite.  Lyrically I think it's a little clumsy but still powerful.  Musically I think it is very good.  It does, however, include one of my favorite stand alone Neil Peart lines which I'll include as it again resonates as strongly today as it did then. But she's nobody's hero - Is the voice of reason against the howling mob. Hero- is the pride of purpose in the unrewarding job. (Album: Counterparts: 1993)

39) Armor and Sword

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The 2007 album Snakes & Arrows really brought back Rush musically and lyrically. The last really great Rush record had been 1993 with Counterparts.  Test For Echo is easily my least favorite Rush album and I seldom ever hear another Rush fan even speak of it.  Following that, Neil Peart suffered the double catastrophe of losing both his daughter and his long time mate.  They returned in 2002 with Vapor Trails which had some good songs on it but suffered from a terribly muddy mixing that essentially ruined the album.  Then, in 2004 they released Feedback, a record of cover songs.  So Snakes & Arrows ended a long drought of quality Rush music.  Armor and Sword is subdued and melancholy but powerful. If this one has slipped under your radar you owe it to yourself to go back and give it another listen. Our better natures seek elevation. A refuge for the coming night. No one gets to their heaven without a fight. No one. (Album: Snakes & Arrows: 2007)

40) Different Strings

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Rounding out the top 40 is another offering from Permanent Waves- Different Strings.  This is another, well, as close to a ballad as Rush gets.  The lyrics are beautiful and unique in that Geddy Lee wrote them instead of Neil Peart.  The song probably would have ranked higher if not for the fact that it seems to end suddenly in the midst of a good Alex Lifeson guitar solo.  The song could have used one more verse and allowed Lifeson's beautiful and melodic solo to play out.  What happened to our innocence? Did it go out of style? Along with our naivete? No longer a child. Different eyes see different things. Different hearts beat on different strings. (Album: Permanent Waves: 1980)

41) Time Stand Still

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This has long been one of my favorites from the Rush catalog from the 1987 Hold Your Fire album and featuring backing vocals from Amiee Mann of 'Til Tuesday (famous for the U.S. hit Voices Carry) though originally Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders was supposed to sing on the tune but a scheduling conflict derailed that. The song lyrically is relateable to anyone growing older, which I guess is all of us.  The song featured a video that was played in heavy rotation on the various TV music networks.  I turn my face to the sun. Close my eyes. Let my defenses down. All those wounds that I can't get unwound. (Album: Hold Your Fire: 1987)

42) Analog Kid

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From the Signals album, Analog Kid is the prequel to the song Digital Man which appears later on the same record.  Stylistically, I don't care much for Digital Man but I believe Analog Kid works on every level.  The song is really good musically.  While not as complex as other Rush offerings, it is a nice and easy to listen to arrangement and lyrically Neil Peart paints a good story of those restless, yet, carefree days of childhood.  A hot and windy August afternoon has the trees in constant motion. With a flash of silver leaves as they're rocking in the breeze. (Album: Signals: 1982)

43) New World Man

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Another track from Signals this song has a unique place in Rush history.  If you asked someone to name all the Billboard Top 40 hits that Rush had in the United States you would probably hear something like, "Tom Sawyer, Spirit of Radio, Freewill, etc.) That answer would be wrong.  New World Man went to #1 on the RPM national singles chart in Canada for two weeks in October 1982. In the United States, it remains Rush's only American Top 40 hit, peaking at  number 21 on the Billboard singles chart for three weeks in October and November 1982. He's got to make his own mistakes and learn to mend the mess he makes. He's old enough to know what's right and young enough not to choose it. (Album: Signals: 1982)

44) The Body Electric

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This is another Neil Peart science fiction infused tune from the Grace Under Pressure album.  It's somewhat of a deep cut in that I don't think this song has a lot of mainstream appeal or exposure but we, as Rush fans, don't care much about that do we?  If you don't like the synthesizers you will hate this one too but I like it since it is Neil Peart giving you a nice sci-fi story without taking up an entire album side to do it.  It replays each of the days, a hundred years of routines. Bows its head and prays to the mother of all machines. (Album: Grace Under Pressure: 1984)

45) Territories

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This is probably another unpopular pick but I don't know why.  This song is great.  It puts Geddy Lee's bass guitar front and center with a catchy riff.  The lyrics to this song are extremely profound.  The keyboards aren't even that annoying either.  I have no idea why this song isn't held in higher standing by hardcore Rush fans because it is very strong in virtually every single metric- Vocals, lyrics, drums, bass, and guitar.  I will champion this song as one that Rush hardcores need to revisit. The whole wide world, an endless universe. Yet we keep looking through the eyeglass in reverse. (Album: Power Windows: 1985) 

46) Something For Nothing

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This is another of the shorter songs on side two of 2112.  A hard rocking little song with more Neal Peart work ethic lyrics which he was writing a lot of back in the early Ayn Rand inspired days.  The hard work certainly paid off for Rush and the song still rings true in today's world. You don't get something for nothing. You can't have freedom for free. You won't get wise with the sleep still in your eyes no matter what your dreams might be. (Album: 2112: 1976)

47) Lakeside Park

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From the 1975 Caress of Steel album this song is somewhat of a fan favorite.  I'm not as high on this song as a lot of long time Rush fans are but I recognize it's a nice nostalgic trip of a song. The "Lakeside Park" mentioned in this song is on the shore of Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines, Ontario, on Lake Ontario in Canada. Neil Peart lived near Lakeside Park as a child. The lyrics mention the "24th of May", which is Victoria Day, commemorating Queen Victoria's birthday. Lakeside Park, Willows in the breeze
Lakeside Park, So many memories.
 (Album: Caress of Steel: 1975)

48) Between the Wheels

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The mechanical droning of the music of Between the Wheels from Grace Under Pressure sets the mood for this Neil Peart penned commentary of the zoning out of the world in front of the television set.  While that concept may be somewhat dated in 2017 you can replace cathode rays with smart phones and the concept still stands. Frozen in the fatal climb but the wheels of time just pass you by. Wheels can take you around, wheels can cut you down. (Album: Grace Under Pressure: 1984)

49) In the Mood

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Here is a straight forward rock song from the pre-Neil Peart era.  One of the few songs on our countdown not about rocket ships, dystopia, or political-social commentary.  This is a straight forward rock song from the first Rush album with a driving and catchy guitar riff.  As someone once commented to me, "Wow, that's a Rush song? But it's normal."  This song probably more belongs in the KISS library than in the Rush one but it is a nice solid rock and roll tune you could almost dance to. Hey, baby, it's a quarter to eight, I feel I'm in the mood. Hey baby, the hour is late I feel I've got to move. (Album: Rush: 1974)

50) Here Again

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Rounding out the top fifty is another song from the debut Rush album.  Once again, this song is pre-Neil Peart but a casual Rush listener might not know that.  Geddy Lee demonstrates that, he too, can be wise beyond his years, in this case, with this often overlooked subdued and brilliant song about changes in life.  Here Again is a masterfully constructed slower Rush offering with a depth beyond what else is offered on the debut album. Well, I say as I look back at all the thoughts I've had they reflect just what I'm learning. Yes, you know that the hardest part, yes, I say it is to stay on top. On top of a world forever churning. (Album: Rush: 1974)

The Next 50... 

51) Presto
From the 1989 album by the same name, this track is a somewhat stripped back mid-tempo rock song.  Presto began the move away from the earlier keyboard and synthesizer era toward more focused power trio rock. (Album: Presto: 1989)

52) Madrigal
From A Farewell to Kings this is another song with a renaissance flare to it.  Leave it to Rush to work dragons into a song. In vain to search for honor. In vain to search for truth. But these things can still be given. Your love has shown me proof. (Album: A Farewell to Kings: 1977)

53) Cinderella Man
A song about a movie of the same name tells the story of an insane man with a good heart.  The construction of this song works really well too.  An often overlooked classic.  (Album: A Farewell to Kings: 1977)

54) Twilight Zone
Another of the short self contained songs from side two of the 2112 album.  This letter is an ode to the classic television series of the same name.  (Album:  2112: 1976)

55) Manhattan Project
This entry from the synthesizer era is a personal favorite of mine as I have always been interested in the creation and historical impact of the creation of the atomic bomb.  This song taught me more about the basics of the Manhattan Project than high school ever did.  What was it? Check.  When did it happen? Check.  Right down to the day and the name of the plane.  A good history lesson in a song. (Album: Power Windows: 1985)

56) Mystic Rhythms
The final track on the Power Windows album is a rare (at least until Snakes & Arrows) commentary by Neil Peart about supernatural powers, gods, and such.  Many hardcore Rush fans are turned off by the keyboards and electronic drums which are used liberally in this song but it is one of my personal favorites since it is a subject Peart seldom wrote about.  (Album: Power Windows: 1985)

57) Show Don’t Tell
The lead single off of 1989’s Presto album makes the top 100.  Show Don’t Tell reintroduced Rush to the masses with stripped away keyboards and forced them to start playing rock and roll again.  It would take a little while as this album still had quite a pop sound to it compared to earlier offerings but they, of course, sorted it all out. (Album: Presto: 1989)

58) Half the World
I believe, if memory serves me correct, this is the first entry in our countdown off of my least favorite Rush album Test for Echo.  There is something about this album that does not sit well with me.  Still, out of all the duds on this record Half the World stands out as a catchy mainstream song.  The lyrics also hit a home-run and for Rush fans like me who skip this album I would encourage you to seek this one out. (Album: Test for Echo: 1996)

59) War Paint
Presto is a very under appreciated album in my opinion.  Aside from kicking the front and center keyboards to the curb and ending that era, Neil Peart is still on fire with his lyric writing and has learned to say in a few lines what it previously took him half an album to say.  This song is powerful.  All puffed up with vanity. We see what we want to see. To the beautiful and the wise. The mirror always lies. (Album: Presto: 1989)

60) Force Ten
Hold Your Fire is a divisive album but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good, maybe even great songs on it.  Force Ten is a musically well constructed song with good lyrics that manages not to be lost in a sea of keyboards. Tough times demand tough talk- Demand tough hearts- demand tough songs- Demand... (Album: Hold Your Fire: 1987)

61) Scars
This is another song from Presto where Neil Peart really shines in his refined writing.  It also features a prominent bass line from Geddy Lee. (Album: Presto: 1989)

62) Jacob’s Ladder
Or as it could be titled, “Neil Peart’s Ode to a Thunderstorm”.  Rush can seemingly write a song about anything and use it as a metaphor for something. Remember that thought when we get to Earthshine.  (Album: Permanent Waves: 1980)

63) Bastille Day
There will be plenty of people angry that I put this hardcore fan favorite and opening track from Caress of Steel this low on the list.  It’s a good song. It’s a fine song.  I just suppose this history lesson doesn’t resonate with me like other songs do.  The drum part in this song is excellent, however.  (Album: Caress of Steel: 1975)

64) Roll the Bones
I want to like Roll the Bones more than I do.  The title track off of the album by the same name from 1991 continues where Presto left off by getting the power trio back to performing good strong rock songs.  The theme of many of the songs on the album are analogies between gambling and life.  Unfortunately, there are some stumbles along the way and while this song is 75% funky it has that terrible and dated “rap” segment which gives Rush haters exactly what they want- an example of experimentation gone wrong.  I’m sorry, you can defend it if you want but the Roll the Bones rap nearly ruined an otherwise great song.  (Album: Roll the Bones: 1991)

65) Available Light
This is a down tempo Rush number from Presto.  The song is very subdued and plays well to the lyrics.  There are those who think that (pun) Rush only play hard driving songs but Available Light and The Pass off of Presto show they can actually do slow tempo songs well too.  (Album: Presto: 1989)

66) Driven
Speaking of up-tempo songs, this song from the Test for Echo is one of only three songs on the whole album I can stomach.  The video to the song is also one of the best ones that Rush has ever done.  It’s my turn to drive.  (Album: Test for Echo: 1996)

67) Headlong Flight
One of the singles from Clockwork Angels, this song features a strong and driving up-beat performance and lyrically Neil Peart pays homage to his mentor, the late Freddie Gruber.  (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

68) We Hold On
A deep cut and the last song on the Snakes and Arrows Album.  Alex Lifeson’s guitar is up front on this song and lyrically Neil Peart offers more “growing older” wisdom for dealing with life’s downturns.  (Album: We Hold On: 2007)

69) Prime Mover
This is somewhat of a deep cut off of Hold Your Fire.  While the keyboards are there, the song still presents an opportunity for both Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson to get some good arrangements in.  Lyrically it is pretty good too.  Basic temperamental. Filters on our eyes. Alter our perceptions. Lenses polarize. (Album: Hold Your Fire: 1987)

70) Chain Lightning
A good up-tempo song from 1989’s Presto album.  After years of hiding behind Geddy Lee’s keyboards, Alex Lifeson finally gets to write some up-front guitar parts.  The lyrics to the song reflect a new era and outlook for the band.  Hope is epidemic. Optimism spreads. Bitterness breeds irritation. Ignorance breeds imitation. (Album:  Presto: 1989)

71) Making Memories
This song from Fly By Night is a positive and upbeat song about dealing with life on the road but can surely be applied to whatever your lot in life is.  Don’t miss those little moments.  You know we're havin' good days and we hope they're gonna last. Our future still looks brighter than our past. We feel no need to worry. No reason to be sad. Our mem'ries remind us, maybe road life's not so bad. (Album: Fly by Night: 1975)

72) Ghost Rider
This song title became the book title for Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider, a book about him dealing with the death of his daughter and soon afterward his longtime mate, by taking a motorcycle journey all over North America and riding his grief out.  The song is a great companion to the book and as a motorcyclist myself I can relate to many of the lines from the song.  (Album: Vapor Trails: 2002)

73) Earthshine
I think Earthshine is a song that proves Neil Peart can write about literally any topic.  First, the song is musically heavy.  Alex Lifeson’s guitars are heavier than they have been in a while and Neil Peart’s drumming on this song is vicious.  Anytime I hear this song I have to crank it up. Thankfully this song has been remixed from the muddy original version.  (Album: Vapor Trails: 2002)

74) Clockwork Angels
The title track off of the last Rush studio album.  The song doesn’t really work as a stand alone song which is why for me personally I rank it this low.  You really need the entire context of the whole Clockwork Angels story for this song to make any sense.  Still, it’s a nice melodic song.  (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

75) Finding My Way
The first song on the first Rush album.  Musically this song does remind you a little bit of Led Zeppelin.  I don’t care much for Geddy’s vocals on this song but it has a great guitar lead.  (Album: Rush: 1974)

76) Hand Over Fist
A deep cut from Presto this song is an often overlooked classic. I’ve grown to be pretty good at interpreting Neil Peart lyrics over the last thirty-ish years but I still grapple with this one.  While parts of it speak deeply to me, other parts elude me (which I love).  All these years later it’s nice to have a puzzle you haven’t fully solved yet.  (Album: Presto: 1989)

77) Resist
If I were considering live performances then this song would have ranked much higher.  Rush completely rearranged this song to more of an unplugged- acoustic version which they play live with only Geddy and Alex performing it while Neil takes a break.  I like that arrangement much better.  Still, the song in it’s original form on Test for Echo is not bad and lyrically very strong.  (Album: Test for Echo: 1996)

78) Dreamline
The lead single from Roll the Bones was Dreamline.  I like this song very much musically but I can’t for the life of me make sense of the lyrics.  I know this song is somewhat of a fan favorite and Alex Lifeson’s solo on the song is fantastic. (Album: Roll the Bones: 1991)

79) Cut to the Chase
I like this song a lot, primarily because Alex Lifeson gets to do his thing.  From the Counterparts album, Alex is only six years removed from basically sitting on his hands while the keyboards ran the show.  Lifeson is front and center on this one and rightfully so.  (Album: Counterparts: 1993)

80) BU2B
This is another one that many Rush faithful would probably put higher on the list.  First, what do I like about the song?  It’s heavy and feature Geddy and Alex in tandem laying down a really rocking song.  What I don’t like about it?  Neil Peart is a bit heavy handed in the lyrics leaving little to the imagination.  Also, I hate the text-speak title of the song worse than anything (I thought he would have learned with the dated and terrible Virtuality from Test for Echo.) (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

81) Peaceable Kingdom
This song would have ranked much higher had the mixing on Vapor Trails not gone terribly wrong.  That album had a lot of really good songs on it that were affected by the mixing.  The song is taken from a bible verse which is also a rarity for Neil Peart.  (Album: Vapor Trails: 2002)

82) Everyday Glory
Here is another personal favorite of mine.  I don’t know why this song doesn’t get more conversation than it does with Rush fans, it is amazing.  Lyrically, this is again Neil Peart searching for the best within us.  Musically, it is amazingly well arranged.  Under the right circumstances I could have seen this song having mainstream success had it been presented more prominently.  To my knowledge, I don’t believe Rush have ever even played this song live. (Album: Counterparts: 1993)

83) Wreckers
One of the problems with Clockwork Angels and a list like this is that many of the songs are dependent upon one another for context.  Clockwork Angels is a rock opera where each song tells part of the larger story.  Wreckers is a song that can stand alone to some degree even though it tells a part of the larger story.  Sometimes Neil Peart writes about the best we have to offer, in this case it is about the worst.  (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

84) One Little Victory
Oh the lament that is Vapor Trails.  There are several good to great songs on the album. It marked Neil Peart’s return to the band after personal tragedy and an extended lay off.  Peart describes the drumming on this song as “angry” and that is pretty accurate. If only the album had not had massive production flaws.  What might have been? (Album: Vapor Trails: 2002)

85) Caravan
The first song off of the concept album Clockwork Angels, Caravan sets the scene of the world where the story will take place.  The band is tight and play better than they ever have.  I really enjoyed Clockwork Angels when it came out but sadly, many of the songs haven’t held up for me outside of the larger context of the Clockwork Angels world.  (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

86) Hope
Almost certainly the shortest song on our countdown (I haven’t checked but at just over two minutes I can’t imagine another song coming close).  This is an instrumental spotlighting Alex Lifeson.  Alex Lifeson reminds me in many ways of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd in that he performs these really wonderful and magical mood pieces that you can just get lost in.  Hope is absolutely one of those.  (Album: Snakes & Arrows: 2007)

87) Main Monkey Business
The first of three instrumentals off of the Snakes and Arrows record.  This is a catchy number I was lucky enough to see live on the Snakes and Arrows tour accompanied by a hilarious video featuring, well, monkeys of course. (Album: Snakes & Arrows: 2007)

88) Beneath, Between, Behind
From the first Neil Peart penned Fly By Night album this song is all the things people either love or hate about early Peart.  It’s grand in scope, seeming set in some renaissance era setting.  Full of pomp and scope.  You either love it or you hate it.  Beneath the noble birth. Between the proudest words. Behind the beauty, cracks appear. (Album: Fly by Night: 1975)

89) Malignant Narcissism
I’ve known musicians who swear by this song as the pinnacle of great instrumentals. What I do know is I absolutely love Alex Lifeson’s guitar part on this song while Neil Peart lays down a vicious beat.  Obviously Geddy Lee also steps up with an amazing bass line as well.  I’ve often imagined this song as the perfect background for an epic movie car chase scene.  Give it a listen and see if you don’t agree.  (Album: Snakes & Arrows: 2007)

90) Ghost of a Chance
Any song that has the word “ghost” in the title should either be scary or haunting.  Ghost of a Chance from Roll the Bones is definitely haunting.  It’s almost as if Neil Peart told Alex Lifeson, “Hey, I have this song I really need a haunting guitar part for.  Do you think you can conjure one up?” and Alex did so to perfection.  (Album: Roll the Bones: 1991)

91) Bravado
The second song off of Roll the Bones speaks of our willingness to take risks and the costs of failure.  Another down-tempo Rush song, this number asks some very pointed questions to the listener while the musical arrangement stirs emotions to perfection. (Album: Roll the Bones: 1991)

92) Seven Cities of Gold
Another piece set inside the world of Clockwork Angels and another song that struggles to stand alone outside of it.  Arranged wonderfully and catchy it lacks lyrical impact outside of the overall story of Clockwork Angels. (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

93) Heresy
A really good song that is somewhat dated lyrically asks who will pay for the sins of the Cold War era.  With two superpowers pointing a vast number of nuclear weapons at one another while mankind stood fearfully in the shadows the song appropriately asks, “Who will pay?” (Album: Roll the Bones: 1991)

94) Big Wheel
Another entry from Roll the Bones and continuing the gambling theme found throughout the record, the Big Wheel laments the choices made in life and youth.  Alex Lifeson has another masterful arrangement in this song.  (Album: Roll the Bones: 1991)

95) Secret Touch
Geddy Lee once cited this as his favorite track on the Vapor Trails album and for good reason.  This song talks about love and consequences, something that Neil Peart had learned all too horribly well while writing this album.  You can never break the chain.  There is never love without pain.  (Album: Vapor Trails: 2002)

96) Halo Effect
From Clockwork Angels this song again is part of the larger Clockwork Angels narrative but also works well as a stand alone song.  The song laments the lead protagonist falling in love with the wrong person.  What did I see? Fool that I was. (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

97) Cold Fire
This song is a relationship song from an album about relationships: Counterparts.  The song describes the dying embers of a romantic relationship.  (Album: Counterparts: 1993)

98) Ceiling Unlimited
From Vapor Trails this is a song that talks of hope. If only you could hear the driving guitar and bass through the regrettable distortion. (Album: Vapor Trails: 2002)

99) The Anarchist
This song celebrates the villain or antagonist of the Clockwork Angels story.  (Album: Clockwork Angels: 2012)

100) Second Nature
A ballad from Hold You Fire shows Geddy Lee’s softer side while asking some very hard questions of the powers at be in the world.  A vastly under appreciated song.  (Album: Hold Your Fire: 1987)

Almost made the list:  Turn the Page (Hold Your Fire), Anagram (Presto), Red Tide (Presto), How It Is (Vapor Trails), Lock and Key (Hold Your Fire), Carnies (Clockwork Angels), The Way the Wind Blows (Snakes & Arrows), Faithless (Snakes & Arrows), Between Sun & Moon (Counterparts).


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