Here are some facts you might not know about Rush’s epic fourth studio album, 2112, which came out on April 1, 1976:
After the lackluster sales of their previous album, a concept record called Caress of Steel, Rush’s label urged them not to do another concept album, but the trio ignored them. Drummer Neil Peart wrote all the lyrics on the album except for the song “Tears,” which singer Geddy Lee penned, and “Lessons,” which guitarist Alex Lifeson did the lyrics for. Peart credits “the genius of Ayn Rand” in the liner notes. Her book, Anthem, has many similarities to 2112 and Peart added the credit to avoid any legal issues. However, the association to Rand, an idol of many conservatives, had people labeling rush as right-wing extremists.
“Tears” is the first Rush song to feature an outside musician. Keyboardist Hugh Syme, who appears on many of the group’s tracks, was brought in to put a multi-tracked Mellotron string and flute part on the song. Syme also created the cover art for 2112, which includes the first appearance of The Starman, an image the band’s fans have adopted as a logo. Neil Peart once told Creem magazine about the emblem explaining, “All it means is the abstract man against the masses. The red star symbolizes any collectivist mentality.”
The song “2112,” which is made up of seven parts, together is 20 minutes and 33 seconds long, making it the band’s longest song. The storyline in 2112 actually begins in the not-too-distant future – the year 2062, when a galaxy-wide war put all planets under the rule of the Red Star of the Solar Federation. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson created the spoken section of “2112” by playing around with a tape recorder. At the end of “Overture,” Alex Lifeson plays a piece of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” 1812, of course, is 300 years before 2112.
The only words in “Overture” are “and the meek shall inherit the Earth,” a biblical verse. It’s up for interpretation how that plays into the album’s concept, but some believe it symbolizes the rise of the Solar Federation. The sci-fi sounds in the beginning of the “2112” suite were created with an ARP Odyssey synthesizer. The sung lyrics for the song “Discovery” include the line “sounds that build high like a mountain,” but the printed lyrics on the album have the line as “chords that build high like a mountain.”
Everything the story’s hero has been told has come from The Priests of the Temples of Syrinx, and the second suite is titled “The Temples of Syrinx.” In Greek mythology, Syrinx is a water nymph. A syrinx is also birds’ vocal organs. At the end of “2112,” the message “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation” is heard three times, then “We have assumed control” is heard three times. The first phrase has seven words repeated three times, and seven times three is 21. The second phrase has four words said thrice, and four times three is 12, echoing the album title. While the storyline’s ending is ambiguous, Neil Peart meant for it to be a happy one that sees the people of the Solar Federation liberated. “The Twilight Zone” was written and recorded in the same day.
In the 2003 movie School of Rock, Jack Black’s character assigns listening to 2112 as homework to one of his students. He suggests the boy plays close attention to Neil’s drumming. 2112 is how December 21st is written in most countries. That is the day of the winter solstice, which has significant meaning in many cultures. 2112has been certified three-times platinum for sales over three-million copies. 2112 was the band’s first record in the top 100 of the album charts, peaking at number 61.