2112 (song)

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"2112"
Song by Rush
from the album 2112
Released1 April 1976
RecordedToronto Sound Studios in Toronto, February 1976
Genre
Length20:33[3]
LabelAnthem (Canada)
Mercury
Songwriter(s)Lyrics: Neil Peart
Music: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson
Producer(s)Rush & Terry Brown
Music video
"2112" on YouTube
"The Temples of Syrinx"
Single by Rush
from the album 2112
B-side"Making Memories"
ReleasedFebruary 1977 (US)[4]
RecordedToronto Sound Studios in Toronto, February 1976
GenreProgressive rock
Length2:19
LabelMercury
Songwriter(s)Neil Peart, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson
Rush singles chronology
"The Twilight Zone"
(1976)
"The Temples of Syrinx"
(1977)
"A Passage to Bangkok"
(1977)
Music video
"2112: The Temples of Syrinx" on YouTube

"2112" (pronounced twenty-one twelve) is a song by the Canadian rock band Rush. It was released as a 20 minute song on their 1976 album of the same name. The overture and the first section, "The Temples of Syrinx", were released as a single and have been featured in most of Rush's setlists since. Starting with the 1996-97 Test for Echo Tour, when any parts of the song were performed live, they were transposed down one full step,[5] as heard on every live album and DVD from Different Stages forward. With the combined movements being twenty minutes and thirty-three seconds long, it is the longest song or suite in Rush's library. The song was adapted into a comic booklet, which used the lyrics of the song as lines for the characters and the narrations from the cover as intros.

Parts[edit]

Part Title Starting time (*) Length (*)
I Overture 0:00 4:33
II The Temples of Syrinx 4:33 2:12
III Discovery 6:45 3:29
IV Presentation 10:14 3:42
V Oracle: The Dream 13:56 2:00
VI Soliloquy 15:56 2:21
VII Grand Finale 18:17 2:14
Total Running time 20:33
  • (*) Starting times and lengths approximate.

Composition[edit]

This song is described in the liner notes of the album—its interior and back cover—in two ways:

  1. by the actually-sung lyrics, and
  2. by the narrative of the song's Protagonist—identified as "Anonymous, 2112"—quoted and italicized like entries from a personal journal—on the back cover and before the lyrics of all songs except "Overture" and "Grand Finale".

Lyricist/drummer Neil Peart is credited in the liner notes as acknowledging "the genius of Ayn Rand." Neil Peart explained the influence that she had on his music,[6] saying in a 1991 "Rockline" interview:

The inspiration behind it was . . . It's difficult always to trace those lines because so many things tend to coalesce, and in fact it ended up being quite similar to a book called Anthem by the writer Ayn Rand. But I didn't realize that while I was working on it, and then eventually as the story came together, the parallels became obvious to me and I thought, 'Oh gee, I don't want to be a plagiarist here.' So I did give credit to her writings in the liner notes.[7]

I Overture[edit]

The "sci-fi" sounds in the beginning of the song were created using an ARP Odyssey synthesizer[8] and an Echoplex tape delay.[9] On the "2112 / Moving Pictures" episode of the documentary series Classic Albums, producer Terry Brown states the synth intro is composed of various parts played by Hugh Syme that were put together in a collage. This part musically foreshadows the rest of the song—incorporating movements from "The Temples of Syrinx", "Presentation", "Oracle: The Dream", and "Soliloquy"—as well as a guitar adaptation of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Its sole lyric, at the end, "And the meek shall inherit the Earth", is a reference to the Beatitudes of the New Testament and Psalm 37:11.

II The Temples of Syrinx[edit]

The song introduces life within the "Solar Federation" under control of the "Priests of the Temples of Syrinx". The computerized nature of The Priests' system was a concept envisioned by Neil Peart in the 1970s.[10]

III Discovery[edit]

The Protagonist finds a guitar in a cave by a waterfall. He figures out how to tune and play it, enabling him to make his own music. He states "How different it could be from the music of the Temples." He decides to perform it before the Priests, believing they will "praise my name" for letting "[the people] make their own music". In this song, guitarist Alex Lifeson builds up from simple open string guitar playing into increasingly complex patterns and chords, showing the man's progress as he teaches himself to play the guitar. Printed on the album were the lyrics "Chords that build high like a mountain" and Geddy sang it this way for the 1996 live album, but the original recorded lyrics were "sounds" instead of "chords" ("sounds that build...").[10]

IV Presentation[edit]

The Protagonist performs before the Priests, but they tell him that "we have no need for ancient ways", and dismiss the instrument as a "silly whim" that "doesn't fit the plan". The Protagonist tries to explain, "our world could use this beauty; just think what we might do". However, the Priests tell him, "Don't annoy us further." Vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson alternately represent the Protagonist with gentle, low-pitched vocals and clean guitar, and the Priests with high-pitched vocals and distorted, hard rock guitar. The song ends with a guitar solo.

V Oracle: The Dream[edit]

The Protagonist "wanders home" and has a vision of the past and future. An oracle shows him the way it was before the Federation rose, a society where creativity and individuality flourished, with great "sculptured" works of beauty driven by "the pure spirit of man." He now sees that without these things, life has become "meaningless." He also sees "the hand of man arise with hungry mind and open eyes". The "elder race" was not destroyed, but "left our planets long ago", plotting to ultimately return "home to tear the Temples down."

VI Soliloquy[edit]

The protagonist returns to the cave and broods for "days". He imagines "what my life might be in a world like I have seen", and now considers life under the Federation "cold and empty", with his spirits "low in the depths of despair". He resolves that, in order to "pass into the world of my dream, and know peace at last", he must take his own life, his narrative ending as "my life blood spills over."

VII Grand Finale[edit]

The song concludes with a hard rock instrumental part. Pingree's Music Reviews says, "'2112' ends with the oppressive government being attacked by another entity, left entirely up to the listener's interpretation."[11] On the Classic Albums episode on 2112 and Moving Pictures, Lee comments on the ambiguity of the ending, but Peart states that his intent was that the Elder Race successfully deposed the Solar Federation. As the Grand Finale ends, the lines "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation" followed by "We have assumed control" are spoken three times each.

Popular culture[edit]

This song is on Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock where it is used within the game's storyline (four band warriors find Demigod's Battle Axe Guitar and must play all parts of "2112" on basic controllers). The level is narrated by Rush.

It was made available to download on December 31, 2011 as both 3 pieces and as the complete 20-minute track, for play in Rock Band 3 Basic, and PRO mode which utilizes real guitar / bass guitar, and MIDI compatible electronic drum kits in addition to vocals.

The song and its universe feature in the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline as fundamental plot elements, and also get a visual reference in its film adaptation.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murphy, Sean (22 May 2011). "The 25 Best Progressive Rock Songs of All Time". PopMatters. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  2. ^ Freedman, Robert (1 August 2014). Rush: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Excellence. Algora Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 9781628940848. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  3. ^ Length of actual song, as noted on the CD.
  4. ^ "The Great Rock Discography".
  5. ^ "2112: Overture/Temples of Syrinx from new DVD". T-n-m-s.com. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  6. ^ See blog reviews on SongMeanings | Lyrics | Rush – 2112
  7. ^ Rush Album Info
  8. ^ Bowman, Durrell (2003), Permanent Change:Rush, Musicians' Rock, and the Progressive Post-Counterculture (PDF), University of California Los Angeles, p. 110, retrieved 2010-12-30
  9. ^ Fielden, Jerry (2000). "The influence of Electronic Music in Rock Music, 1967-76". Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  10. ^ a b Telleria, Robert: Rush Tribute Mereley (sic) Players, page 149. Quarry Press, Inc. 2002
  11. ^ Pingree's Music Reviews, Tag Archive: Geddy Lee, Rush – 2112, January 26, 2011