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  • Michael Curzan

A Look at Song Lengths.

The Canadian progressive rock band Rush is known for their extra-long multi-part songs. These were common in their early albums from the 1970's. However, starting in the 1980's they began to produce songs of a more standard length. They have even occasionally produced rather short songs. Because of this wide range of possible lengths, I have decided to categorize their songs into a system of seven Tiers. Tier 0 consists of songs that are three minutes long or less. Tier 1 consists of songs that are from three to five minutes long, which is quite a lot of them. Tier 2 consists of songs that are from five to seven minutes long. This also contains a large number of them. Between Tier 1 and Tier 2, they include the vast majority of songs by Rush. However, there are still four more Tiers left. Tier 3 consists of songs that are between seven and nine minutes long. Tier 4 consists of songs that are between nine and eleven minutes long. Tier 5 consists of songs that are between eleven and thirteen minutes long. Finally, Tier 6 consists of songs that take up nearly twenty minutes of running time. Notice that there is a large gap between thirteen and eighteen minutes, in which there are absolutely no songs of that length. There are only three songs by Rush that are in Tier 6. These are "The Fountain of Lamneth", "2112", and "Cygnus X-1 Book 2: Hemispheres".

Now here is a chart showing how many songs are in each category:


TIER 0: 8 SONGS (Need Some Love; Beneath Between & Behind; Making Memories; Closer to the Heart; Madrigal; Hope; Malignant Narcissism; B.U.2.B.2.)


TIER 1: 76 SONGS (Take a Friend; What You're Doing; In the Mood; Anthem; Best I Can; Fly By Night; Rivendell; Bastille Day; I Think I'm Going Bald; Lakeside Park; A Passage to Bangkok; The Twilight Zone; Lessons; Tears; Something for Nothing; Cinderella Man; Circumstances; The Trees; The Spirit of Radio; Entre Nous; Different Strings; Tom Sawyer; Y.Y.Z; Limelight; Witch Hunt; Vital Signs; The Analog Kid; Chemistry; New World Man; Losing It; Distant Early Warning; The Enemy Within; The Body Electric; Kid Gloves; Red Lenses; Force Ten; Second Nature; Turn the Page; Tai Shan; Chain Lightning; The Pass; Scars; Superconductor; Anagram for Mongo; Red Tide; Hand Over Fist; Dream Line; Bravado; Face Up; Where's My Thing; Neurotica; Stick It Out; Cut to the Chase; Nobody's Hero; Between Sun & Moon; Double Agent; Leave that Thing Alone; Cold Fire; Driven; Half the World; The Color of Right; Totem; Dog Years; Resist; Carve Away the Stone; The Stars Look Down; How It Is; Vapor Trail; Sweet Miracle; Nocturne; Working Them Angels; The Larger Bowl; Good News First; We Hold On; Carnies; Halo Effect)


TIER 2: 66 SONGS (Finding My Way; Before & After; In the End; A Farewell to Kings; Freewill; Red Barchetta; Subdivisions; Digital Man; The Weapon; Countdown; Afterimage; Red Sector A; Between the Wheels; The Big Money; Grand Designs; Manhattan Project; Marathon; Territories; Middle Town Dreams; Emotion Detector; Mystic Rhythms; Time Stand Still; Open Secrets; Prime Mover; Lock and Key; Mission; High Water; Show Don't Tell; War Paint; Presto; Available Light; Roll the Bones; The Big Wheel; Heresy; Ghost of a Chance; You Bet Your Life; Animate; Alien Shore; The Speed of Love; Everyday Glory; Test for Echo; Time and Motion; Virtuality; Limbo; One Little Victory; Ceiling Unlimited; Ghost Rider; Peaceable Kingdom; Secret Touch; Earth Shine; Freeze; Out of the Cradle; Far Cry; Armor and Sword; Spin Drift; The Main Monkey Business; The Way the Wind Blows; Faithless; Bravest Face; Caravan; B.U.2.B; The Anarchist; Seven Cities of Gold; The Wreckers; Wish Them Well; The Garden)


TIER 3: 6 SONGS (Here Again; Working Man; By-Tor & the Snow Dog; Jacob's Ladder; Clockwork Angels; Headlong Flight)


TIER 4: 4 SONGS (Cygnus X-1 Book 1; La Villa Strangiato; Natural Science; The Camera Eye)


TIER 5: 2 SONGS (The Necromancer; Xanadu)


TIER 6: 3 SONGS (The Fountain of Lamneth; 2112; Cygnus X-1 Book 2)


One thing I noticed is that the entirety of their Power Windows album is in the Tier 2 category. Also, I expected Tier 3 to be filled with multi-part extended songs, but it was actually mostly filled with regular songs that just happened to be very, very long. There is a very large chronological gap in both Tier 0 and Tier 3, because there are no Tier 0 songs between the album A Farewell to Kings and the album Snakes and Arrows. There are also no Tier 3 songs between the album Permanent Waves and the album Clockwork Angels. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my post. See you next time.



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