Despite being an instrumental, the song tells a complete story, complete with plot and characters. It's based on some nightmares Alex Lifeson experienced. (thanks, Matthew Daubert - Mequon, WI)
Divided into 12 segments, as follows: I-- Buenos Nochas, Mein Froinds!, II-- To Sleep, Perchance To Dream, III-- Strangiato Theme, IV-- A Lerxst in Wonderland, V-- Monsters!, VI-- The Ghost of the Aragon, VII-- Danforth and Pape, VIII-- The Waltz of the Shreves, IX-- Never Turn Your Back on a Monster!, X-- Monsters! (Reprise), XI- Strangiato Theme (Reprise), XII-- A Farewell To Things.
One of the few songs on which drummer Neil Peart is credited with writing some of the music. He is usually only credited with writing lyrics.
The live version of this song, from the CD Exit... Stage Left contains some nonsensical lyrics in the "Danforth and Pape" segment. The CD flyer contains a "loose translation" of these lyrics.
On the live CD and DVD Rush In Rio
, Alex Lifeson delivers a comedy monologue during the "Monsters! (Reprise)" section. Geddy Lee ceases playing this song during this segment and begins briefly playing the song "The Girl From Ipanema" in response to one of Alex's jokes. (thanks, Jeff - Haltom City, TX, for all above)
"Danforth and Pape" is an intersection in downtown Toronto. It is well known for being somewhat chaotic during 'rush hour.' (thanks, Alexander - Bracebridge, Canada)
The song that inspired the "Monsters!" section was the 1936 song "Powerhouse" by Raymond Scott. Warner Brothers music director Carl Stalling used "Powerhouse" in his Warner Brothers cartoon scores during the '40s and '50s. The music wasn't originally written for cartoons, publishing rights for a limited catalog of Raymond Scott's titles were sold to Warner Brothers in 1943. Yet not only was "Powerhouse" used in the old "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" cartoons, it has been sampled more recently by other bands such as Devo and They Might Be Giants; more recently cartoons including The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy, Duckman, Batfink and Animaniacs, also the Cartoon Network's theme song, and throughout the Disney film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! (without crediting Scott - Disney was threatened with a lawsuit and the matter was settled out of court). Rush didn't give credit to Scott for their use of "Powerhouse" either. By the time Raymond Scott's publisher notified the band's management of the infringement, the statute of limitations had expired on the challenge. But Rush's management, out of deference to Mr. and Mrs. Scott (Raymond was still alive at that point), and being the class act that they are, offered a one-time "penance" payment, feeling it was the ethical thing to do. All involved were happy with the resolution, and Rush has no further financial obligations. Under the settlement, they were not required to accord Raymond Scott partial songwriting credit on the piece. For additional information visit FAQ at RaymondScott.com. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington)
Villa Strangiato is a real place in Italy. It was the home of the late Barone (Baron) Strangiato, an Italian nobleman, but it is not a major Italian landmark. (thanks, FranZ - Rome, Italy)