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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rush: Alex Lifeson Talks "Moving Pictures" Track By Track

Perhaps the most celebrated album of Rush’s long, illustrious career is 1981’s "Moving Pictures". Featuring two of the band’s top singles, “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight,” along with other favorites, such as “Red Barchetta” and the instrumental “YYZ,” the album helped cement the group’s status as an upper echelon arena act. The group have spotlighted the album on their Time Machine tour, playing it in its entirety to houses packed with multiple generations of Rush fans. And with a newly issued special edition Blu-ray/DVD+CD package, it seems like the perfect time to check in with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson to look back on the set.

“We knew they were good songs,” Lifeson told, who asked the Gibson signature guitarist to reflect on the record track-by-track (highlights below). “Did we think that they’d ever be considered ‘standards’? Not at all. All we tried to do was please ourselves.”

“Tom Sawyer”

 “We don’t like to think about the album sequence until we’re done recording everything, but I think ‘Tom’ was always going to be the opener. Just the way it starts – it had to open the record.”

“Red Barchetta”

 “I remember that we really loved this song, and so the writing of it was very quick. It was born from a jam, which is how a lot of the stuff on Moving Pictures came about. We’d go into the studio in the morning, jam on an idea, and then huddle around a little cassette player to see if we had something.”


 “Ged and Neil wrote ‘YYZed.’ I was busy working on my airplane that day: I had a remote control airplane up there that I crashed to pieces, after spending weeks and weeks building it.” [laughs]

“Limelight”“I’ve always maintained that the solo is probably my favorite of anything I’ve ever done. If you can create a visual from a sonic standpoint, that’s really an art. The song has it, as does the solo.”

“The Camera Eye”

 “A lot of this song came from separate parts that were written and then connected. I think that’s why we always had a bit of a problem embracing it fully in its early days. It was hard work. The opening was easy, and then we decided to build up to a crescendo. There’s a lot going on. It was one of the last really long songs that we would write.”

“Witch Hunt”

 “All that mob stuff in the opening, those sounds, that was a lot of fun. We went outside, quite a ways from the studio, down by the road. It was a freezing cold night in January, and it was the three of us in the band and a couple of crew guys, and we recorded about 20 minutes of us mumbling and grumbling and making all kinds of mob noises. We had a bottle of Scotch with us to try to keep warm, and as you imagine, the more we drank the crazier we got!” [laughs]

“Vital Signs”

 “As an album closer, lyrically it spoke well. It was a nice sentiment to end the record. The way it fades, it was quite dramatic. ‘The Camera Eye’ almost ended Moving Pictures, but we finally decided on ‘Vital Signs.’ It was all about being aware of your surroundings and rising to your highest level. That said something important to us.”

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