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 final lines of the song ("For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall.../Concert hall/And echoes with the sounds of salesmen") are an allusion to the famous final lyrics from the Simon and Garfunkel classic "The Sound of Silence": "...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?]

One of the lines of the song references the composition Morning Mood, which bears a strong musical similarity to the opening guitar riff.

The album version includes the sound of a cheering crowd just after Lee sings "concert hall." It has since become a tradition in live shows for the arena lights to come up at this point and the audience to cheer, mimicking the effect, as shown on every live DVD from Grace Under Pressure Tour forward.[citation needed]

On performances during the 1981 tour, the line "one likes to believe in the freedom of music" was changed to "one likes to believe in the freedom of baseball" as a commentary on the 1981 Major League Baseball Players Association strike. Geddy Lee still occasionally drops this change into the song when performing live.[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' 2015 covers EP Words of the Prophets includes a version of "The Spirit of Radio."[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]