“Anthem” by Rush

The lyrics of Rush’s “Anthem” are based on the teaching of 20th century philosopher/author Ayn Rand. Rand is a name you likely heard before considering that she has written what turned out to be one of the most famous novels in American history, 1957’s Atlas Shrugged

And in terms of her philosophical leanings, she was what some people may refer to as a secular humanist. The term secular humanist refers to someone who does not believe in religion but does strongly support personal wealth accumulation, i.e. people achieving happiness and fulfillment from a material standpoint. 

And reportedly at the stage of his life in which this song was conceptualized, Rush’s Neil Peart in particular adhered to Ayn’s teachings. And said adherence served as the lyrical basis of this track.

“Anthem”

And if such is the case, that Ayn Rand has been monumentally influential in the modern development of American thinking, well we can get a glimpse of how such may be so in “Anthem”. For instance, the first verse puts forth a teaching centered on staying focused. 

And the implication, all lyrics considered, would be that said focus is ideally on something like wealth accumulation. Well, you don’t likely need us to tell you that money songs, if you will, have in fact become a standard in the American music industry in subsequent years following “Anthem”, in accordance with such a way of thinking also becoming more mainstream.

Also the notion of ‘living for yourself’, as put forth in the second verse, seems to be everywhere these days. But the fact that such philosophies have become so ubiquitous speaks to the reality that they are based on universal truths, if you will. In other words, you would likely agree that there’s nothing wrong with being laser focused on a goal, and at times life does necessitate prioritizing ourselves over others.

But just isolating those two ideas does not reveal all that’s going on in this track. For what Rush is actually advocating, once again all lyrics considered, is a practice akin to hoarding wealth or money in the name of self-edification. And apparently the way they see it, adopting such a modus operandi, so to speak, is the only way to achieve greatness in the world.

In Conclusion

But this analysis is more or less theoretical anyway. The late-1960s/early-1970s seems to have been an era in music, indeed Anglo-American history, where many popular artists were experimenting with different philosophies and what have you. And sometimes when they try to summarize such complex ideas into, say a four minute track, the lyrics may come off as a bit convoluted and challenging to decipher. 

And we would argue that such is more or less the case as far as Rush’s “anthem of the heart and… mind” goes.

Lyrics to Rush's "Anthem"

Rush

Rush is a band from Canada that experienced a considerable degree of membership turnover during its early goings. However, from 1974 to 2020, the group consisted of the triumvirate of the following:

  • singer Geddy Lee
  • guitarist Alex Lifeson
  • drummer Neil Peart (1952-2020)

And since the three of them had been together for so long, this is the lineup that the band is best known for. In fact it was in fact the death of Peart, at the age of 67, that ended the trio’s nearly 50 year run.

Facts about “Anthem”

This song is believed to be named after a 1938 piece of writing by legendary author Ayn Rand (1905-1982). However, it isn’t actually based on said writing per se but rather some of Rand’s philosophies in general.

Lee, Lifeson and Peart are credited as the writers of this song. And it is derived from the band’s second album, “Fly by Night”, which is a product of Mercury Records. And the three of them are acknowledged as a unit as far as the production of “Anthem” goes, though being aided in that regard by Terry Brown.

“Anthem” was made public on 15 February 1975. And a couple of years later, in 1977, Rush was heavily involved in the formation of a label actually entitled Anthem Records.

Of the artists who may have covered this song throughout the years, apparently at the top of the list is heavy metal band Anthrax. In fact they even named a project they came out with in 2013 Anthems.

Anthem

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