RUSH! The Music of RUSH in the Social Studies Classroom

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I just discovered a great page that describes all of the inspirations for Rush lyrics. Check it out!

The LP Power Windows, contains a number of songs that touch on a variety of areas of learning. "Manhattan Project" discusses the use of the atomic bomb against Japan to end World War II. The lyrics help the teacher pose ethical and moral questions that our nation now faces as part of the controversy connected with the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Power Windows also contains a discussion of imperialism and war in the song "Territories." The song is a commentary on the sources of international conflict, and it employs symbols, sounds, and images that cross cultures.

On a more literary and allegorical note, The title song of the LP Hemispheres utilizes characters from Greek mythology to symbolize the battle between emotion and reason within the collective Human consciousness. Peart uses Dionysus and Apollo to symbolize the reasoning and emotional functioning of the brain's hemispheres. Not only can Hemispheres be used to develop an interest in literature, but in psychology as well.

Hemispheres also contains a song entitled "The Trees." The song can easily be interpreted as a poem about Trade Unionism and worker's rights, as well as the nature of class conflict in society.
The song can easily be interpreted as a poem about Trade Unionism and worker's rights, as well as the nature of class conflict in society and cause for a stimulating discussion for an online MBA class or other online classes.

On the LP Moving Pictures, the song "Red Barchetta" places us in the future to consider the fate of the automobile and its ultimate effect on our environment and the political implications thereof. Inspired by an Italian race car, lyricist Peart fires our imagination with futuristic imagery and speculation as to what will become of that symbol of affluence in present day society, the car.

Finally, the 1976 masterpiece 2112 uses science fiction to posit questions about the final role of Humankind in the cosmos. The work also reflects on the position of technology in our society and how it may accelerate us toward seeking out life on other planets. Young people will find themselves identifying with the rebellious and inquisitive nature of the characters in this story while gaining a social and literary understanding of the issues at hand.

With the advent of AIDS in our society, Neil Peart reflects on the nature of heroism in RUSH's 1993 release Counterparts. The song "Nobody's Hero" contains references to homosexuality and gender conflict, but the teacher can use these ideas to help young people learn tolerance and acceptance. The themes are revisited in Alien Shore, which brings racial understanding into the discussion.

The album Test For Echo contains a number of modern themes. In it, one finds the song Virtuality, which discusses the place that the Internet has earned in popular culture. Peart calls on "Net Boy" and "Net Girl" to "put your message in a modem" and "send your signal round the world." Indeed, young people are more familiar with this medium than their parents, and they way young people relate to each other over the Internet is a new and sometimes dangerous phenomenon that the "baby boomer generation" has not yet figured out how to deal with.

There are other themes discussed in the music of RUSH: the nature of predestination and free will, isolation and alienation, and the perennial human wondering about the existence of a Supreme Being (it is a question of continued debate among RUSH listeners whether Neil Peart is an atheist, agnostic, or follows an organized religion). All of these themes and songs can be used to stimulate discussion the classroom through the vibrant medium of RUSH's music.

I hope you will e-mail your thoughts: or

I have added an e-mail page dedicated to RUSH in the classroom since I get very good comments from time to time. Feel free to read, review, and respond!Eye

My thanks to the kind folks at Power Windows: A Tribute to Rush for making Rush lyrics available in such an organized way.

If you know of other songs and bands that can be used in Social Studies or other subject areas, send your ideas to me!

Thanks for taking a look!


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