Unstable condition,
A symptom of life,
Of mental and environmental change.
Atmosphereic disturbance,
The feverish flux
Of human interface and interchange.

The impulse is pure;
Sometimes our circuits get shorted
By external interference.
Signals get crossed
And the balance distorted
By internal incoherence.

A tired mind become a shape shifter,
Everybody need a mood lifter,
Everybody need reverse polarity.
Everybody got mixed feelings
About the function and the form.
Everybody got to deviate from the norm.

An ounce of perception,
A pound of obscure.
Process information at half speed.
Pause, rewind, replay,
Warm memory chip,
Random sample, hold the one you need.

Leave out the fiction,
The fact is, this friction
Will only be won by persistence.
Leave out conditions,
Courageous convictions
Will drag the dream into existence.

A tired mind become a shape shifter,
Everybody need a soft filter,
Everybody need reverse polarity.
Everybody got mixed feelings
About the function and the form.
Everybody got to elevate from the norm...


Lyrics submitted by shed27, edited by TheGreatSkeeve


Vital Signs song meanings
Add your thoughts

21 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    My InterpretationWhat I take away from this isn't necessarily about trying not to conform, but rather how our outlooks on conformity in general contributes to our own individuality. That sounds confusing I'm sure, but it does make sense....to me at least. These lyrics posted here aren't dead on, either. He frequently switches between the words deviate, elevate and escalate. I think deviating and elevating/escalating are almost opposites, but that fits in perfect with this song. You could even make the argument that "the norm" doesn't refer to societies' standards but rather whatever would be "the norm" in one's life. To me that means that it's about peoples' tendencies to make decisions and changes based on boredom or restlessness alone.

    The chorus seems to sum it up:

    A tired mind become a shape shifter, - boredom or apathy leads to a need for change
    Everybody need a mood lifter, - maybe drugs or some sort of new "routine"
    Everybody need reverse polarity. - a total opposite swing in attitude or direction
    Everybody got mixed feelings - we all differ in opinions of which direction is "right" and
    About the function and the form. that's our only common ground(maybe?)
    Everybody got to elevate from the norm. - already commented on this above

    There really is a lot more to it, and as someone alluded to above; a song can have multiple meanings. Whether it's a conscious effort by the songwriter or not is really inconsequential; people take away different meanings from the same thing.....which also fits in with these lyrics. What a poignant song!
    senttosaintlouison May 14, 2009   Link
  • +2
    Lyric CorrectionUnstable condition,
    A symptom of life,
    Of mental and environmental change.
    Atmosphereic disturbance,
    The feverish flux
    Of human interface and interchange.

    The impulse is pure;
    Sometimes our circuits get shorted
    By external interference.
    Signals get crossed
    And the balance distorted
    By internal incoherence.

    A tired mind become a shape shifter,
    Everybody need a mood lifter,
    Everybody need reverse polarity.
    Everybody got mixed feelings
    About the function and the form.
    Everybody got to deviate from the norm.

    An ounce of perception,
    A pound of obscure.
    Process information at half speed.
    Pause, rewind, replay,
    Warm memory chip,
    Random sample, hold the one you need.

    Leave out the fiction,
    The fact is, this friction
    Will only be won by persistence.
    Leave out conditions,
    Courageous convictions
    Will drag the dream into existence.

    A tired mind become a shape shifter,
    Everybody need a soft filter,
    Everybody need reverse polarity.
    Everybody got mixed feelings
    About the function and the form.
    Everybody got to elevate from the norm.

    Everbody got mixed feelings (x2)
    Everybody got to deviate from the norm. (x2)
    Everybody got to elevate from the norm. (x4)
    Everybody got to escalate from the norm.
    Everybody got to elevate.
    Everybody got to elavate from the norm.
    Everybody got to deviate from the norm. (x2)
    UlidEyeson July 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne thing about this song no one mentioned, and I remember this from an interview, is that Neil is playing with a lot of recording studio and electrical jargon, and then he is taking those words and applying them to human interactions:

    impulse
    circuits shorted
    external interference
    balance distorted
    reverse polarity
    half speed
    pause rewind replay
    soft filter
    memory chip
    random sample hold - sample and hold is a type of circuit, he puts in a comma to change the meaning
    mixed feelings - my favorite - an analogy between a multichannel mixing board and various levels of emotion inside someone.
    neilpeteon August 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFirst off, I agree with what everyone has said so far, and that this song is amazing. I just really got into it today, to be honest. But what I've noticed about Rush and their albums is that often times they have a common theme. In Moving Pictures, for instance, there seems to be an idea that conformity and being "normal" is just a myth, that everyone is different. And in Counterparts, the theme seems to be that things will always be bad, so just learn to try and appreciate the good parts of it. I'm not sure, but that is what it seems like to me...
    Uberryanson December 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthighly underrated

    another one of their songs saying "break out of the mold, dont be conformed"

    sometimes refered to as space raggae because of its futuristic tone
    beemer11on April 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is one of my favorite songs, the keyboards and Geddy's voice at the end, sounds like he is going to cry. It kinda compares emotions to a computer and that...

    "everybody got mixed feelings"

    As Beemer said, its HIGHLY underratted.
    subdividedon October 06, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLove this song - big big thumb slapping bass towards the end. For me the song is there at the end of "Moving pictures" deliberately. It is announcing Rush's change of direction and letting the fans know something new is around the corner (i.e. "Signals" and Grace Under Pressure").
    lerxstgkon June 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLove this song - big big thumb slapping bass towards the end. For me the song is there at the end of "Moving pictures" deliberately. It is announcing Rush's change of direction and letting the fans know something new is around the corner (i.e. "Signals" and Grace Under Pressure").
    lerxstgkon June 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love to play this song on my bass. its one of rush's best song i think.
    i think its about how if you hate conforming, just dont conform and dont worry about what anyone thinks. Although people may seem similar, everyone is vastly different so just be yourself.
    Negroid_featureson March 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song has multiple meanings. Whatever they are, its a very deep song. Could be one of their deepest.....
    ....great song. Love the bass line.
    Wobbly toeon May 12, 2007   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain