I'm a person that believes in what some call synchronicity, or "meaningful coincidence". I was checking a Rush news blog which I frequent every couple weeks, and noticed that Sunday was the 20th anniversary of Rush's Presto album. There is a poll attached to the post asking everyone's favorite song on the album, and I thought, "No, brainier, it's The Pass", which turned out to be true. Then I go to itunes for the blog, and guess what song pops up? Pretty strange.
"The Pass" is a song which has only grown in prestige over the years among Rush fans (Russians? Is there a clever name for Rush fans like Dead fans or Jimmy Buffett? Besides loser, I mean) and the band too. They have singled out this song over the years as one of their personal favorites and often trot it out during tours.
This song joins a long line of a great band trope: the anti-suicide song. Though, as we see later, the object of the narrator's pleadings doesn't listen.
Neil Peart is at his lyrical best in this one. We meet the protagonist in the first two verses:
Proud swagger out of the school yard
Waiting for the world's applause
Rebel without a conscience
Martyr without a cause
Static on your frequency
Electrical storm in your veins
Raging at unreachable glory
Straining at invisible chains
One gets the sense of a angry young man, filled with potential and brimming with energy and misdirected anger ("Rebel without a conscience / Martyr without a cause")
But for whatever reason, he's met with frustration, as Peart sets up a metaphor of a dangerous cliff in the chorus. Or perhaps it's no metaphor and our kid is, literally, standing on a ledge. Probably both.
And now you're trembling on a rocky ledge
Staring down into a heartless sea
Can't face life on a razor's edge
Nothing's what you thought it would be
Now, our narrator gives his advice in the second half of the chorus. It's interesting, too how this song has two distinct choruses back to back. Not something you see often
All of us get lost in the darkness
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars
All of us do time in the gutter
Dreamers turn to look at the cars
Turn around and turn around and turn around
Turn around and walk the razor's edge
Don't turn your back
And slam the door on me
Beautifully said, indeed. "Everybody hurts, sometimes" as a famous Athenian once said in his own fashion. I also like how the music "slams" along with the lyric leaving Ged's voice alone to end the line.
Now, more advice:
It's not as if this barricade
Blocks the only road
It's not as if you're all alone
In wanting to explode
Someone set a bad example
Made surrender seem all right
The act of a noble warrior
Who lost the will to fight
And back to the double choruses.
After one of Alex's best solos on record, we get the tragic ending:
No hero in your tragedy
No daring in your escape
No salutes for your surrender
Nothing noble in your fate
Christ, what have you done?
I love what Neil does here, totally pissing over any kind of romanticism, bravery or sacrifice that some might associate with suicide. "No salutes for your surrender"is a hell of a line, no matter your feelings on this band. Again, like the "slam" lyric at the end of the chorus, the music stops on "Christ" to really convey the shock and incredulous feeling of what's happened.
Once more with the chorus, to really get the point across, I suppose, and we end strangely for a Rush song, with Geddy singing alone.
Looking back, I've really focused on the lyrics here, but there is some great musicianship going on here as well. I've already mentioned Lifeson's incredible, restrained solo, but the opening to this song with Geddy's plucked bass riff is very distinctive in the Rush canon. The big intro to the chorus is a classic as well (check :49 on the video), and this is the first album when Geddy really started to restrain his glass shattering screech (one of the main things that people hate about this band) which he does to fine effect here.
So, why have the fates given me this song, what's the synchronicity? Fear not for me, dear reader, but stay alert to those around you, eh?
Also, does Geddy's late 80's ponytailed look make him even less attractive? I don't think it was possible, myself. How about Alex's mullet?