The Spirit of Radio

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"The Spirit of Radio"
The Spirit of Radio.jpg
UK 7" single
Single by Rush
from the album Permanent Waves
ReleasedDecember 1979 (promo)
February 1980 (single)
Recorded1979, Le Studio, Quebec, Canada
Length4:56 (Album version)
3:00 (Single version)
LabelMercury Records
Songwriter(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"
Music video
"The Spirit of Radio" on YouTube

"The Spirit of Radio" is a song released in 1980 by the Canadian rock band Rush from their album Permanent Waves. The song's name was inspired by Toronto radio station CFNY-FM's slogan.[1][2] It was significant in the growing popularity of the band, becoming their first top 30 single in Canada and reaching number 51 on the US Hot 100. It remains one of Rush's best-known songs and was a concert staple until their retirement.


The introduction of the song was composed in a mixolydian mode scale built on E; most of the rest, barring repetitions of the introductory guitar riff, is in conventional E major.[3]

"The Spirit of Radio" features the band experimenting with a reggae style in its closing section. Reggae would be explored further on the band's next three records, Moving Pictures, Signals, and Grace Under Pressure. The group had experimented with reggae-influenced riffs in the studio and had come up with a reggae introduction to "Working Man" on their tours, so they decided to incorporate a passage into "The Spirit of Radio", and as guitarist Alex Lifeson said, "to make us smile and have a little fun".[4]

Lyrically, the song is a lament on the change of FM radio from free-form to commercial formats during the late 1970s. The Toronto-based station CFNY-FM is cited as an inspiration for the song.[5]

Single release[edit]

They 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.[6] 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).[7] In the US, the single peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980 and #22 in Canada, and in 1998 a live version of the song reached #27 on the Mainstream Rock Charts.[8]

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".[9]


"The Spirit of Radio" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and was among five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010.[10]

Classic Rock readers voted "The Spirit of Radio" the fourth best Rush song.[11]

Odyssey ranked "The Spirit of Radio" number 11 on their ranking of every Rush song, and rated it 10/10. They also considered it to be the second best song from Permanent Waves, only behind "Freewill".[12]

The song was covered by the British alternative rock band Catherine Wheel in 1996, with their version appearing both on their B-sides and rarities album Like Cats and Dogs and on the CFNY-branded compilation album Spirit of the Edge, Vol. 2.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Catchphrase". CFNY-FM. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  2. ^ Kinos-Goodin, Jesse (13 November 2014). "Neil Peart on the 10 best Rush songs ever". CBC. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Prato, Greg (2006-05-03). "The Story Behind The Song: The Spirit Of Radio by Rush". Classic Rock. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  6. ^ "UK Singles Chart runs". April 8, 2011. Archived from the original on February 1, 2010. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  7. ^ "Rush – Spirit Of Radio". Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Billboard Singles". Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Infantry, Ashante (January 20, 2010). "New home a place to sing praises of our songwriters". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Greg Quill, "Rush: writing new history Canadian rock institution gets 'humbling' honour for indelible songs like 'Spirit of Radio'". Toronto Star, March 28, 2010.

External links[edit]