"The Spirit Of Radio" as written by Neil Peart....
Things crawl in the darkness
That imagination spins
Needles at your nerve ends
Crawl like spiders on your skin
Pounding in your temples
And a surge of adrenaline
Every muscle tense to fence the enemy within

I'm not giving in to security under pressure
I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure
I'm not giving up on implausible dreams
Experience to extremes
Experience to extremes

Suspicious-looking stranger
Flashes you a dangerous grin
Shadows across your window
Was it only trees in the wind?
Every breath a static charge
A tongue that tastes like tin
Steely-eyed outside to hide the enemy within
To you, is it movement or is it action?
Is it contact or just reaction?
And you, revolution or just resistance?
Is it living, or just existence?
Yeah, you, it takes a little more persistence
To get up and go the distance

I'm not giving in to security under pressure
I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure
I'm not giving up on implausible dreams
Experience to extremes
Experience to extremes

Lyrics submitted by shed27, edited by mescaline20

"The Spirit of Radio" as written by Alex Lifeson Geddy Lee

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Spirit Of Radio song meanings
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  • +5
    Song MeaningI always thought this song was specifically about the magic that radio can be, and should be. But it's also a lament over the commercialization that leads to cookie-cutter formats, and soulless corporate suits who care only about the bottom line.

    Radio is meant to be personal, and can indeed be a friend...a "companion unobtrusive." But the song, in its brilliant prescience, foretells corporate ownership, consolidation, and the move away from local and personal focus.

    I think the line about "all this machinery making modern music" just refers to the technical, physical equipment necessary to broadcast a radio signal.

    Great song indeed; it's one of my favorites.
    djmikeon May 11, 2010   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationOne year I saw Rush in concert, the baseball teams were on strike.

    They changed the lyrics in the song to "One likes to believe in the spirit of baseball."

    The song is about the conflict between artistic passions and marketability.
    NightMgron September 25, 2010   Link
  • +3
    Song ComparisonNot sure if this is obvious or not but the last 3 lines are a reference to Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence". The lines from that are:

    And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
    And tenement halls"
    And whispered in the sounds of silence

    interesting tidbit about this song.
    Mystrocoolon December 16, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is partly a tribute to the former Toronto FM station, CFNY 102.1, the "Spirit of Radio" (their tagline.) I was a teenager growing up listening to CFNY circa 1980-86. There was nothing else like it on Toronto airwaves, if not in all of North America. The DJs basically played what they liked - New Wave, Punk, New World Music, etc., and a lot of Brittish stuff. It stood in great contrast to all of the other FM "Rock" stations, at times appearing seemingly amateurish, yet intellectual at the same time. I can not adequately descibe the wonderful feelings I would have, as a teenager, discovering some great obscure song that they would start playing. It was like a breath of fresh air putting that station on in the mornings. I gather that that is what Neil Peart felt when he would put it on -it was just such a contrast to all of the other stations, where it was the same top 40 songs with stupid contests all of the time. For some archived shows, visit the fanpage spiritofradio.ca/
    palofcyrusson August 17, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhen you wake up the morning, you might turn on the radio,
    and everyday, reliably, you can hear the familiar voices or songs.
    As you set out to do your morning activities the radio sets you at ease.

    When you get in your car, the stereo is there,
    and even though you are by yourself, you have the radio to lift your spirits.
    The radio asks nothing in return, and so in many ways, it can be an ideal "friend".

    As if by magic, the radio reaches you through the air,
    and the price you have to pay is nothing compared to the joy it brings.

    As time goes on man has made devices to make music easier to make and reproduce (auto-tune, synthesizers, etc)
    So long as the artist maintains his or her integrity, there is no reason not to put these
    devices to good use.

    However, there are always going to be parties that exploit the technology purely for financial gain
    and not for artistic merit. It's up to the listener to determine the difference between art and business or commercialism.

    Remember that a lot of the music or programming you hear on the radio is played only because
    someone is paying them to pay it.

    aharmon April 16, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBegin the day with a friendly voice
    A companion unobtrusive
    Plays that song that's so elusive
    And the magic music makes your morning mood

    Off on your way, hit the open road
    There is magic at your fingers
    For the Spirit ever lingers
    Undemanding contact in your happy solitude

    Invisible airwaves crackle with life
    Bright antennae bristle with the energy
    Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
    Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free

    All this machinery making modern music
    Can still be open-hearted
    Not so coldly charted
    It's really just a question of your honesty, yeah
    Your honesty
    One likes to believe in the freedom of music
    But glittering prizes and endless compromises
    Shatter the illusion of integrity


    "For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall
    Concert hall
    And echoes with the sound of salesmen...of salesmen...of salesmen."
    mescaline20on February 04, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow..i really can not beleave that anyone has posted about this song yet...to me it is a truely amazing song. I would love to hear what other people think about this song and what they think it is about.
    rwillon September 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPersonally, I believe that the song is about the music industry, in general. It's saying that music can be a wonderful form of expression, and can make life better, when made for the right reasons.
    It's saying that the music industry can ruin music. It can fill people with the wish to make music soley for money, for profit, and no other reason (and the words of the profits were written on the studio hall... and echoes with the sounds of salesmen) and that this makes many musicians compromise their art, their music, for the money (glittering prizes and endless compromises...). It's also saying that it doesn't need to be this way, "it's really just a matter of your honesty". It's up to the musicians to make the music for the right reasons.
    Philosophic_Musingson September 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe first 3 stanzas are kind of just describing the radio and what a good thing it is. The 4th appears to deal with the controversy when the tape recorder was first introduced, people could just record music off the radio, so it's saying it's a question of your honesty. (The same issue that went on with the VCR and now the file-sharing)

    The rest of the song kind of ties it together with the whole music-for-profit theme that seems to be going on overall.

    Now to the reason I am really writing this, because, thanks to Philosophic Musings quoting that line I realized it's almost a direct copy of a line from Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence".

    Rush: "and the words of the *profits* were written on the studio wall... and echoes with the sounds of salesmen."

    Paul Simon: "and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls... and echoes with the sounds of silence"

    Now that I take the time to think about it... The two songs really have a lot in common. The most accepted meaning of Sounds of silence was that people are building to much on pop-culture and not really listening, and if they did they would find that the music has a lack of meaning and is not heartfelt.

    So by writing this I realized a few things myself, I guess it's true what my professor always tries to tell me. "If you write something down, it causes you to think about it." Once again he's proved right.

    Sorry for being kinda long-winded there (I say this as I continue to type) But, you know, it kinda happens sometimes. Especially when you don't have something outlined and of course I'm not gonna take the time to outline what was originally a "comment" and turned it into this... Well never mind.
    chibiweavon March 05, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow! This song is brilliant, just read the lyrics again, while listening to the song. "All this machinery making modern music..." is obviously refering to the rave and electronica culture, yet they show some form of respect by singing "...can still be open-hearted." Philosophic_Musings and chibiweav are both 100% correct: this song is about the music industry, heartfelt music etc. Great song.
    Karlon May 11, 2003   Link

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