Red Sector A

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"Red Sector A"
Single by Rush
from the album Grace Under Pressure
Released 1984
Genre Progressive rock, new wave
Length 5:09
Label Anthem
Producer(s) Rush, Peter Henderson
Rush singles chronology
"The Body Electric"
"Red Sector A"
Grace Under Pressure track listing
"Red Sector A"
"The Enemy Within"

"Red Sector A" is a song by Rush that provides a first-person account of a nameless protagonist living in an unspecified prison camp setting. "Red Sector A" first appeared on the band's 1984 album Grace Under Pressure.

Lyricist Neil Peart has stated that the detailed imagery in the song intentionally evokes concentration camps of the Holocaust. Peart has stated that while Nazi concentration camps of World War II were his primary lyrical motivation, he decided to abstract the lyrics so as to apply to the experiences of atrocity of any similar prison camp scenario.[1] It also has to do with singer/bassist Geddy Lee's remembrance of his mother's accounts of the Holocaust, which she survived. This can be shown in the lyrics, where one part goes: "For my father and my brother, it's too late/but I must help my mother stand up straight."


Geddy Lee explained the genesis of the song in an interview:

The seeds for the song were planted nearly 60 years ago in April 1945 when British and Canadian soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Lee’s mother, Manya (now Mary) Rubenstein, was among the survivors. (His father, Morris Weinrib, was liberated from the Dachau concentration camp a few weeks later.) The whole album “Grace Under Pressure,” says Lee, who was born Gary Lee Weinrib, “is about being on the brink and having the courage and strength to survive.”

Though “Red Sector A,” like much of the album from which it comes, is set in a bleak, apocalyptic future, what Lee calls “the psychology” of the song comes directly from a story his mother told him about the day she was liberated.

“I once asked my mother her first thoughts upon being liberated,” Lee says during a phone conversation. “She didn’t believe [liberation] was possible. She didn’t believe that if there was a society outside the camp how they could allow this to exist, so she believed society was done in.”[1]

In a 1984 interview Neil Peart describes writing Red Sector A:

I read a first person account of someone who had survived the whole system of trains and work camps and Bergen-Belsen and all of that (...) through first person accounts from other people who came out at the end of it, always glad to be alive, which again was the essence of grace, grace under pressure is that through all of it, these people never gave up the strong will to survive, through the utmost horror, and total physical privations of all kinds.

...I wanted to take a little bit out of being specific and, and just describe the circumstances and try to look at the way people responded to it, and another really important and to me really moving image that I got from a lot of these accounts was that at the end of it, these people of course had been totally isolated from the rest of the world, from their families, from any news at all, and they, in cases that I read, believed that they were the last people surviving.

Song title inspiration[edit]

The song title 'Red Sector A' comes from the name of the NASA launch area at Kennedy Space Center, where the band was granted special permission to view the launch of Columbia on April 12, 1981.[2]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Red Sector A"   Neil Peart Rush 5:09
2. "Red Lenses"   Neil Peart Rush 4:43

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Benarde, Scott R. "How the Holocaust rocked Rush front man Geddy Lee". Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Popoff, Martin (2004). Contents under pressure 30 years of Rush at home & away. Toronto [Ont.]: ECW Press. p. 104. ISBN 9781550226782. 
  • Rock 'N' Roll Never Forgets Holocaust's Horror, Palm Beach Post, May 6, 2005

External links[edit]