All that we can do is just survive
All that we can do to help ourselves
Is stay alive...

Ragged lines of ragged grey
Skeletons, they shuffle away
Shouting guards and smoking guns
Will cut down the unlucky ones

I clutch the wire fence
Until my fingers bleed
A wound that will not heal-
A heart that cannot feel-
Hoping that the horror will recede
Hoping that tomorrow-
We'll all be freed

Sickness to insanity
Prayer to profanity
Days and weeks and months go by
Don't feel the hunger-too weak to cry

I hear the sound of gunfire
At the prison gate
Are the liberators here-
Do I hope or do I fear?
For my father and my brother-it's too late
But I must help my mother
Stand up straight...

Are we the last ones left alive?
Are we the only human beings
To survive?...

Lyrics submitted by MasterDuncan03

Red Sector A song meanings
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  • +8
    Song Meaning

    Of course this song refers Geddy's parents but it is also about the book "I Have Lived a Thousand Years" about a 13 year old girl growing up in the holocaust. The girl in the book had a father and a brother that were lost, and she had to help her mother constantly to survive in the prison camps. The line "But I must help my mother stand up straight", refers to the chapter in the book "The Selection" where her mother can no longer stand due to weakness, and she must support her and keep her standing to pass the roll call. Quote from the book: "When the SS brass approaches, several girls help me pull Mommy up on her feet. I stand behind her, my body giving her support. And so she stands for the few moments it takes for the SS to count the heads of the first row nearby. It works. Thank God. But how long can this be kept up? Two days? Three Days? And what then?" Its a really good, eye opening book, everyone should read it. The line "a pounding in my temples" can also be found in the book. :)

    Danneron June 18, 2009   Link
  • +6
    General Comment

    I had the honor of seeing rush perform this and many other songs during their 30th anniversary tour as well as on their roll the bones tour,and I was really overtaken by how fucking enerjetic they are during their shows.Especially neil peart.that guy is hands down the greatest drummer alive,and the fact that he could rebound from losing his wife and his daughter just command's the absolute upmost of respect.

    lakeoffire_on October 01, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    such a haunting and touching song. like everyone else, said its about what the Jewish people went through in the Holocaust. and yes both of Geddy's parents survived it. this song just makes me so pissed off at all of those racist fuckers out there and what they are supporting.

    masterofpuppets80on May 16, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    When Geddy was out promoting his album "My favorite headache" I was lucky enough to have won a seat in the 933.3 WMMR studios in philadelphia. I sat about 4 feet away from Geddy and was able to ask him a few questions. ! of which was about this song. He explained to me that Alex was talking to Geddys' parents about the holocaust. Alex was so moved about what Geddys' parents told him he wrote this song. This was straight from Geddys' mouth.

    kjg2266on February 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is one of their best, and I agree with you masterofpuppets. I hate all those racist nazi whores.

    subdividedon October 06, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Comments from Rush's Lee and Peart on conceiving and writing Red Sector A are available at

    Thogekon May 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    kjg2266 on 02-13-2008 @ 12:25:03 PM - - -

    Great story. Though I thought Neil wrote the lyrics and not Alex?! Are you sure he said Alex?

    psargenon August 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is from the perspective of a person who is surviving some Holocaust like event.

    I find the lyrics:

    "Are we the last ones left alive? Are we the only human beings To survive?"

    particularly moving. His references to helping his mother stand up straight implies that despite all of the pain and torture they have been through, they have still retained their humanity and their pride. Now they are asking whether or not they are the only ones who have.

    Galt2112on April 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    F yeah, second best Rush song behind The Trees

    Into the mysticon August 11, 2021   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    you mean holocaust? yes, jewish genocide during ww2...

    rakunon August 17, 2002   Link

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