Mr Geddy Lee (though not really) (mrgeddylee) wrote,
Mr Geddy Lee (though not really)

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This song contains all the things that make people love or hate Rush. Screeching vocals? The way Geddy sings "cell" is legendary. Pomposity? The subject of free will vs predestination still perplexes leading minds in theology, psychology, biology, and philosophy. My Existentialism professor made his name on a book called On Being Free. Sure, they can knock that sucker out in a 5:21 rock song. Maybe someday they'll balance the government's budget in a little three minute ditty. (Of course, as a Canadian band, they'll have a smaller hill to climb there.)

Musically, I suggest that anyone who doesn't love "Freewill" should get out now. I love it less than I love some other Rush songs, but nonetheless, it gets everything right. From the outset of the track, we see Alex really showing his moves, and then Geddy reminds us that the Fender Jazz bass remains the gold standard for that grindy rock tone. At first Alex and Ged double one another, but before long, the synth pedals some in, and then the crazy arpeggios, and then we're into the chorus.

At first the chorus feels fairly simple, especially if you tune out the effects. I decided to try to see what Neil did, since he often manages to trick me. Sadly I don't know jack about drumming, so unless he plays a fill that I can't comprehend, or a time signature I can't count, I tend to underestimate his contribution. Anyway, I love the fill just after "... made a choice." Ged goes from doubling the guitar to playing a bass fill exactly in time with the drum fill. Niiiice.

The solo for "Freewill" blows me away, so I'm going to hop over the second verse and do a little gushing here. When I started learning bass, all I wanted was to be Ged. I could play some Rush songs, like "Tom Sawyer." I could play "The Analog Kid" well enough to fool most people. I never managed to play "YYZ" at more than about half speed, but I could fathom how it could be done. But the solo to "Freewill"... no. Never. I've seen it live many times, and I still can't believe a man can do that. It's not even a bass solo! Alex gives Geddy a little space at first, but quickly goes into his own berserk realm of guitar madness. If you described it to me, I'd tell you that it couldn't work, that you need to let the solo breathe a little. I'd be wrong. It works just fine, if you're that good.

You know what keeps the song short of perspective for me? The relationship between the music and the melody. The first couple choruses imply a lot of nasty things about a lot of people's attitudes, but the music never feels nasty. It feels cheery, in a prog rock blow you away fashion. After the solo, Geddy's wailing develops a little more emotional content, but I want my rage served up front and person. Rush, being Canadian, probably feel differently about that issue.
Tags: rushppd
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