ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Finding Poetry in Music

Updated on May 18, 2014

A Poet in His Prime

RUSH, a Canadian band that got its start in the late 60s and has turned out over thirty five albums, is unique with their powerful instrumentation as well as striking lyrics. The trinity stars Geddy Lee on bass and lead vocals, Alex Lifeson on guitar, and Neil Peart the drummer and lyricist. While all of their albums are artistic and expertly performed, one is particularly noteworthy for its melodies and philosophical metaphors. In 1987 “Hold Your Fire” was released and featured the only female voice to be recorded in Rush history on the track, “Time Stand Still” and other classics starring just the trio such as “Force Ten” and “Mission”, both of which contain insightful lyrics. By diving through the levels of meaning behind the words in “Prime Mover”, a better understanding of Peart’s philosophies and poetic style will be unearthed.

The Short History

The professional musicality of every RUSH song is truly what drives the inner meaning. The evolution of the band from its original members has brought them through stages of development that are interesting and unique. The beginning lineup read Alex Lifeson on guitar, John Rutsey on drums, and Jeff Jones on bass and lead vocals (Gett 1). When Jones left the scene and made room for Geddy Lee the search for RUSH’s true sound resumed. Eventually, due to medical circumstances Rutsey left the band just before a U.S. tour and they picked up Neil Peart (Gett 1). In him, they found the missing piece that ultimately brought their true voice to the forefront. Throughout every album, new limits were tested and explored as the band grew together and became the Hall of Famers they are today. Particularly, their sound in the late eighties is truly remarkable and different from other stages of their evolution. On the album, “Hold Your Fire” there is an emphasis on keyboards, played by Geddy Lee in conjunction with bass and vocals. This addition is especially apparent in the song “Second Nature” which has a primary keyboard element.


Who's Persona?

The overarching theme in “Prime Mover” and on this album in particular is the concept of time and seizing the moment. Every song compiled on “Hold Your Fire” is an introspection of higher truths and the elements that are highlighted bring the listener to an elevated mindset. It is important to take all of the songs into account because the album is essentially a series of aphorisms; each a brief insight into the mind of a man observing, and experiencing the world. Part of what makes the message so powerful is Neil’s persona sung by Geddy. While I believe Neil writes from the heart and that his philosophies are illuminated in each song, Geddy’s perception of the lyrics is revealed every time he performs them. Every song is a team effort and it is the intertwined nature of the songs that enhances the band’s unity. However, in order to portray the insight RUSH is capable of, a closer look at an expertly crafted song is needed.

There are so many different elements in “Prime Mover”; hints to the frailty of experience, the brief and sometimes missed opportunity for love, the indecisiveness of humankind, and the power of man. It is amazing that one song can say so much, but in reality that is what great poetry and songwriting does. One of the reoccurring themes in the song are the personal alterations of an individual’s decisions and perception of life. In these lines, Neil highlights this using a fair bit of scientific background to make his point; “Basic temperamental filters on our eyes/Alter our perceptions/Lenses polarize” (Peart). It is proven that the brain picks out specific images while the eyes sift through the innumerable images collected throughout the day (What the Bleep do We Know?). It is iconic of Neil Peart to use empirical evidence to evoke his abstractions.

Love and Power

While love is one of the most impressive categories in music, RUSH takes it a step further in “Prime Mover” touching briefly on an ever-changing reality of experience. In these lines, a romantic scene is painted; “From the point of entry/Until the candle is burned/The point of departure is not to return” (Peart). Other countless illusions guide the listener to embrace the moment and seize any chance that arises. The ending lines in each stanza invite the individual to refrain from dwelling on the future and experience the moment. This line speaks directly on this matter; “From the point of ignition/To the final drive/The point of the journey is not to arrive” (Peart). Also, there is a repeated line throughout the song, “Anything can happen…” which embodies an unpredictable element in life (Peart).

Finally, the power of man is revealed in the bridge as Neil describes a scene in which a mere person controls the earth. The melody and point of view shift and encompass an individual’s seat on the earth’s control panel; “I set the wheels in motion/Turn up all the machines/Activate the programs/And run behind the scene/I set the clouds in motion/Turn up light and sound/Activate the window/And watch the world go 'round” (Peart). Some may refer to this as an illusion to God or a higher power, but personally I feel that it reflects the experience of someone who understands the world and is piecing it together. It is a creative reflection and would ignite any philosopher’s heart.


Melodic Advantages

Music has an advantage in the public eye, or rather ear. More people accept music into their lives and it therefore becomes a source of learning and influence. Poetry can do the same, but the melodic aspects of music draw people in more so than poetry by itself. Maybe it has to do with the internal rhythms that echo in our hearts. RUSH has acquired a magnificent legacy as well as an impenetrable friendship. Their story is just as relevant as their lyrics and composition. They are real and I have yet to hear a band that describes life’s abstractions and unexpected moments better than they. Speaking of Neil in particular; he writes from and for the soul. His keen perception and experiences brought him to his incredible state of understanding that he is known for. He was the missing piece that truly made the band exactly what it was destined to be.

RUSH - Prime Mover (Lyrics)

Works Cited

Gett, Steve. “History of RUSH.” n.p. 13 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Peart, Neil. “Prime Mover” Musixmatch, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

What the Bleep do We Know? Dir. William Arntz, Mark Vicente, Betsy Chasse. Perf. Amit

Goswami, Dean Radin, Candace Pert, et al. Roadside Attractions, 2004. Film.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)