Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio” Lyrics Meaning
“The Spirit of Radio” begins with the singer relishing listening to the radio, particularly in the morning time, including apparently in his car on the way to work. And the insinuation is that he has an affinity for a specific station which ‘plays songs that are so elusive’, i.e. underground hits. And his overall elation ultimately leads to him expressing an appreciation for the technological marvel we know as radio.
But him relaying such a sense of gladness is just a setup for the true idea which “The Spirit of Radio” is intended to harp on. For “this machinery making modern music”, i.e. radio, also has the tendency of giving in to commercial interests. As a matter of fact it so much gives into business interests to the point of ‘endlessly compromising its integrity’. Or stated alternatively, one of the main reasons he enjoys the above mentioned radio station so much is because the others have already sold out. And in the process of doing so, the overall quality of the music they play has been diminished. And you can tell that he is passionate about this belief, as he equates what these stations are doing to said entities sacrificing their honesty.
So whereas this track begins with an uplifting sentiment, it concludes with the singer lamenting radio stations being taken over by commercial interests. And for the record, what Neil Peart was particularly furious about at that time was, in his own words, radio “becoming more regulated, more about selling airtime”.
Facts about “The Spirit of Radio”
This track was written and produced by the three members of Rush. They were assisted in producing the tune by Terry Brown.
This song charted in the US, UK and Rush’s native Canada. It’s most notable performance was in the United Kingdom. There, it peaked at number 13.
“The Spirit of Radio” has also been named one of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Furthermore, it has been granted a place within the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Anthem Records issued “The Spirit of Radio” on 17 March 1980 as the lead single from Rush’s album entitled “Permanent Waves”.