So let’s do it again. Thrillist just published a list of all 180 Rush songs ranked. And of course, because it’s Rush, it’s geeky, exhaustive, epic and awesome. And depending on where your Rush compass is centered, it might get you fired up (in a friendly, I- would-never-hurt-anyone kind of Rush fan way.) The good news is author Jordan Hoffman is either a reporter with the maddest prep skillz or a massive Rush fan. I’m guessing the latter based on the comprehensive descriptions of each song (with a bonus nod to “Take Off” and ranking the drum solos separately) and the ground rules (ie: songs with suites count as one song.)
As a proud Rush fan since 1981 (yes, ‘Moving Pictures’ was my first album. Don’t hate. We all have to start somewhere,) I really only have 1 huge issue with this list. That’s it. Just 1.
Without divulging #1, I will say this about it: NAILED IT. It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite, but every time I hear it, I say “Man, that’s one of their best” so I’m 100% on-board with it being #1. (Hint: it’s a song about a car from my first Rush album…OK, so I divulged it to most fans. If you’re not knowing, check here.)
The rest of the Top 5 are also solid:
#2 2112 I mean, of course. It changed the band’s career.
#3 Tom Sawyer Has to be here, no matter how many times you hear it. You WILL play air drums to “that part” without even thinking about it. It’s a natural reflex that only your arms being tied behind your back will suppress.
#4 Cygnus X1 Book 1: The Voyage After “Working Man,” the heaviest riff in the Rush catalog
#5 YYZ Hoffman’s description kinda nails it. “If you can handle these insane rhythms, blistering solos, and harmonics-enhanced bass fills (almost unheard of elsewhere in classic rockdom) then you were a Rush fan. Welcome to the club.”
Here’s my beef: “Subdivisions” at #31? UNACCEPTABLE. You can debate exactly where it ranks, but this is a TOP 10 Rush song. Period. End of discussion. The Top 20 are solid and I have no issue with the order of any of it. They’re all amazing anyway, right? But “Subdivisions” is essential. Timeless lyrics about being an outsider (kinda like being a Rush fan,) a perennial concert favorite that absolutely destroys the crowd Every. Time. The wicked bass runs, drum work, Moog synth, and tidy but searing guitar solo. (Fun fact: It’s also the song their road crew plays over the PA during load-in to signal the band has arrived at the venue.) Not just a great Rush song. One of the most important.
This is a travesty, simply not acceptable at #31 and I demand a re-do on the entire list. Not really. It’s his list. And lists are fun, right? So read the whole well-written list here. I’ll look for your comments in 3 weeks when you come out of the wormhole.
Ken West is ROCK 92.9 Program Director. He is married to the only known female Rush fan.