The Spirit of Radio

"The Spirit of Radio" is a song released in 1980 by Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 rock band Rush
Rush (band)
Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in August 1968, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario. The band is composed of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart...

 from their album Permanent Waves
Permanent Waves
Permanent Waves is the seventh studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released January 1, 1980. The album was recorded at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec, and was mixed at Trident Studios in London, UK. Permanent Waves became Rush's first US Top 5 album hitting #4 and was the band's fifth...

. The song's name was inspired by Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 radio station CFNY
CFNY-FM, promoted under the branding 102.1 The Edge, is a Canadian radio station, broadcasting at 102.1 FM. The station rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s due to its freestyle DJing format and unique choice to play alternative music...

's slogan. The song was significant in the growing popularity of the band. It is also the first song of the 1980s, since Permanent Waves was released on January 1, 1980, and being the first track on the album. The band had grazed the UK Top 40 two years earlier with "Closer to the Heart
Closer to the Heart
"Closer to the Heart" is a single by Rush, released in 1977, from the album A Farewell to Kings. It was the first Rush song to have an external co-writer, namely Peter Talbot, a friend of drummer and lyricist Neil Peart...

", but when issued as a single in March 1980, "The Spirit of Radio" soon reached number 13 on the UK singles chart
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

. 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). "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. The song was among five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame is a Canadian non-profit organization, founded in 1998 by Frank Davies, that inducts Canadians into their Hall of Fame within three different categories: songwriters, songs, and those others who have made a significant contribution with respect to...

 on March 28, 2010.


The song's familiar synthesizer hook during the breaks was programmed using the Oberheim
Oberheim Electronics is an American company, founded in 1969 by Tom Oberheim , which manufactured audio synthesizers and a variety of other electronic musical instruments.-Oberheim Electronics:...

 OB-1 synthesizer.


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
Simon and Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel are an American duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They formed the group Tom & Jerry in 1957 and had their first success with the minor hit "Hey, Schoolgirl". As Simon & Garfunkel, the duo rose to fame in 1965, largely on the strength of the...

 classic "The Sound of Silence
The Sound of Silence
"The Sound of Silence" is the song that propelled the 1960s folk music duo Simon & Garfunkel to popularity. It was written in February 1964 by Paul Simon in the aftermath of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. An initial version preferred by the band was remixed and sweetened, and has become...

": "...the words of the prophets/Are written on the subway walls/And tenement halls/And whispered in the sounds of silence."

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.

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
Major League Baseball Players Association
The Major League Baseball Players Association is the union of professional major-league baseball players.-History of MLBPA:The MLBPA was not the first attempt to unionize baseball players...

 strike. Geddy Lee
Geddy Lee
Gary Lee Weinrib, OC, better known as Geddy Lee , is a Canadian musician, best known as the lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush...

 still occasionally drops this change into the song when performing live.

The Earthquake Album

Rush performed this song on the benefit project The Earthquake Album.

Use in other works

  • The song appears on the soundtrack for Trailer Park Boys: The Movie in 2006.

  • UK Band St. Etienne
    Saint Etienne (band)
    Saint Etienne are an English Pop group comprising Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. They are named after the French football team AS Saint-Étienne.-History:Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs were childhood friends and former music journalists...

     sampled the opening riff on "Conchita Martinez", a track on their 1993 album, So Tough
    So Tough
    - CD: Warner Bros. / 9 45166-2 :- CD: Warner Bros. / WPCP-5209 :- CD: Heavenly / HVNLP6CDDE :- Personnel :The liner notes list the album's personnel as follows:...


  • The song appears as downloadable content for Karaoke Revolution Presents American Idol Encore 2 for the PlayStation 3
    PlayStation 3
    The is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and the successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...


  • An unreleased live version of the song is featured in the video game Guitar Hero 5
    Guitar Hero 5
    Guitar Hero 5 is a music video game and the fifth main entry in the Guitar Hero series. The game was developed by Neversoft and published by RedOctane and Activision, and released internationally in September 2009 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, 3 and Wii consoles...

    . This version is taken from a live performance at the Apollo in Manchester, England on June 17, 1980, on the Permanent Waves Tour.

  • It is also playable on the drum simulation game

  • The song appears in the opening scene of Episode 6 of Freaks and Geeks
    Freaks and Geeks
    Freaks and Geeks is an American teen comedy-drama television series, created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow, that aired on NBC during the 1999–2000 television season...

     (I'm With The Band); Nick Andopolis plays along to it on drums.

  • An orchestrated version of "The Spirit of Radio" appears on Exit... Stage Right, a string quartet tribute album that features 12 Rush songs converted into classical pieces.

  • The song was played as the first song of the warm-up skate for games featuring Canada's 2010 Men's Olympic Hockey Team.

  • A cover version appears on the CD Subdivisions: A Tribute to Rush, played by Kip Winger
    Kip Winger
    Charles Frederick Kip Winger is an American rock musician, both a member of the hard rock band, Winger, and a solo artist.-Early days:Winger was born in Denver, Colorado to parents who were both jazz musicians....

     and Jeff Stinco
    Jeff Stinco
    Jean-François "Jeff" Stinco is a French Canadian musician, who is best known as the lead guitarist for pop punk band Simple Plan.-Early life:...


  • A cover version appears on the CD Like Cats and Dogs, by Catherine Wheel
    Catherine Wheel
    Catherine Wheel were a four-piece alternative rock band from Great Yarmouth, England. The band was active from 1990 to 2000, experiencing fluctuating levels of commercial success, and embarking on many lengthy tours.-Biography:...


  • In 2010, another cover has been done on the ukulele by the Quebec group Lucky Uke.

  • An edited version of the song is used as the opening theme to the Israeli Talk-Radio show "Monkey At Noon" ("Kof BaTsaharaym"; In Hebrew: קוף בצהריים). The show is aired on Radio Tel-Aviv (102.3 FM) and is hosted by Ron Koffman.

  • In 2010, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul
    Rand Paul
    Randal Howard "Rand" Paul is the junior United States Senator for Kentucky. He is a member of the Republican Party. A member of the Tea Party movement, he describes himself as a "constitutional conservative" and a libertarian...

     used the lines "Glittering prizes and endless compromises/Shatter the illusion of integrity" as an illustration of the GOP's drift from its core values. Rush's attorney later requested that Paul stop using this line citing ""Look, we're Canadians, this is a copyright issue; we don't want to affect any politics in the United States."

  • The independent music label Bright Antenna
    Bright Antenna
    Bright Antenna is a record label founded in 2007 and based in Oakland, California. One of the founders is author and filmmaker Tiffanie DeBartolo...

     took its name from the song's lyric.

  • A brief cover of the intro riff appears in the song "Grade 9" by Barenaked Ladies
    Barenaked Ladies
    Barenaked Ladies is a Canadian alternative rock band. The band is currently composed of Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, and Tyler Stewart. Barenaked Ladies formed in 1988 in Scarborough, Ontario, then a suburban municipality outside the City of Toronto...

     along with a brief cover of the guitar breakdown from Tom Sawyer
    Tom Sawyer (song)
    "Tom Sawyer" is a song by Canadian rock band Rush, named after Mark Twain's literary character. The song was released on Mercury Records and PolyGram in 1981 on the Moving Pictures album and numerous compilations thereafter, such as 1990's Chronicles. It has also appeared on several live albums and...

External links

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