The Spirit of Radio

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This article is about the song. For the compilation album, see The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974–1987.
"The Spirit of Radio"
Single by Rush
from the album Permanent Waves
B-side "Circumstances" (international) / "The Trees" & "Working Man" (UK/early U.S. copies)
Released March 1980 (single)
Format Vinyl record (7" / 12")
Recorded 1979, Le Studio, Quebec
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 4:56 (album) / 3:00 (single)
Label Mercury Records
Writer(s) Neil Peart, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson
Producer(s) Rush and Terry Brown
Rush singles chronology
"The Spirit of Radio"
"Entre Nous"


"The Spirit of Radio" (Live)

"One Little Victory"
Permanent Waves track listing
"The Spirit of Radio"
Exit...Stage Left track listing
"The Spirit of Radio"
"Red Barchetta"

"The Spirit of Radio" is a song released in 1980 by Canadian rock band Rush from their album Permanent Waves. The song's name was inspired by Toronto radio station CFNY's slogan.[1][unreliable source?] The song was significant in the growing popularity of the band. The band had grazed the UK Top 40 two years earlier with "Closer to the Heart", but when issued as a single in March 1980, "The Spirit of Radio" soon reached #13 on the UK singles chart.[2] It remains their biggest UK hit to date (the 7" single was a 3:00 edited version which has never appeared on CD to date).[3] In the U.S., the single peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980, and in 1998 a live version of the song reached #27 on the Mainstream Rock Charts.[4] "The Spirit of Radio" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Rush's only such entry.[citation needed] The song was among five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010.[5]

Promotional 12-inch copies were released in the United States late 1979 with the B-sides of "Working Man" and "The Trees", and the song being incorrectly titled "The Spirit of the Radio".[6]


The song's last verse ("For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall/Concert hall/And echoes with the sounds of salesmen") is an allusion to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence," which closes with the lyrics "The words of the prophets/Are written on the subway walls/And tenement halls/And whispered in the sounds of silence."[citation needed][original research?]

The song references the composition "Morning Mood," which bears a similarity to the opening guitar riff.

The original recording includes the sound of a crowd cheering immediately after the words "concert hall." To mimic the effect when the song is performed live, the house lights are turned on and the audience cheers at the same point in the song.[citation needed]

During the 1981 Major League Baseball strike, Geddy Lee, an avid baseball fan, sang the lyric "one likes to believe in the freedom of music" as "one likes to believe in the freedom of baseball." He has occasionally included the change in later performances.[7][unreliable source?][8]

Media usage[edit]

The live version recorded in June 17, 1980, at the Apollo in Manchester, England, appeared as a playable song in the 2009 video game Guitar Hero 5 where it is considered one of the hardest songs on guitar in the game.[9]

The song is sampled on the 1993 track, "Conchita Martinez", by Saint Etienne.[10]

Cover versions[edit]

Canadian heavy metal band Kobra and the Lotus included a version of "The Spirit of Radio" on their 2015 covers EP Words of the Prophets. The EP's title is a reference to the song.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Catchphrase". CFNY-FM. Retrieved October 30, 2008. 
  2. ^ "UK Singles Chart runs". April 8, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Rush – Spirit Of Radio". Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Billboard Singles". Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  5. ^ Infantry, Ashante (January 20, 2010). "New home a place to sing praises of our songwriters". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 16, 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ The National Midnight Star #304, August 5, 1991
  8. ^ Excerpts from Visions, Bill Banasiewicz, 1988 Omnibus Press[dead link]
  9. ^
  10. ^ Who Sampled website
  11. ^ "Video: Kobra and The Lotus Covers Alannah Myles's 'Black Velvet' on 'Words of the Prophets' EP". Retrieved June 25, 2015. 

External links[edit]