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YYZ by Rush

Album: Moving PicturesReleased: 1981
  • YYZ is the transmitter code for Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Every airport is assigned a unique 3 letter code, and that code is always being transmitted so that pilots can tell, roughly, where they are and verify that their navigational radios are tuned properly. These codes are also written on your luggage tags when you fly. The intro to the song is Morse code for "YYZ."
  • This was nominated and was the runner up for the Best Rock Instrumental award in the 1982 Grammys. It lost to The Police's "Behind my Camel."
  • In the March 2004 issue of Guitar World magazine, Alex Lifeson explained the bizarre-sounding harmonics heard before the solo: "I create them by playing off the pick and my thumb. I hold the pick so there's a slight edge of it showing between my thumb and finger. This allows my thumb to mute the string, and that's what causes the harmonic to ring." (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 3)
  • The crashing noise you hear between the breaks of the guitar solo is the sound of windchimes tied to a 2x4 slapped against a wood table. The band confirmed this in an interview on WNEW New York in the winter of 2002. (thanks, Jason - Commack, NY)
  • Geddy Lee's bass performance on this song has been praised by many websites and magazines as one of the best in Rock history. Some fans believe his bass playing is better when he's not singing. (thanks, Evan - flower mound, TX)
  • This was one of the few songs used on the PS2 game Guitar Hero 2 that was not a remake by Wavegroup. (thanks, Billy - A Place, AL)
  • The song has also featured as a downloadable song in the Rock Band series, and as the only instrumental on the Guitar Hero: Smash Hits game. Geddy Lee told the The Plain Dealer newspaper in a 2011 interview how the tune's use in video games has opened up a whole new fan base for Rush: "It's interesting how that song's been reborn through video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. We're getting all these 11-, 12-, 13-year-old kids coming to our shows because they discovered our music through those games. And I think one of the big reasons is 'YYZ.'"
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Comments: 67

YYZ is one of Rush's best songs in my opinion. What they didn't tell at the top of the page exactly is the morse code (which is helpful to know to play the intro correct):
Y in morse code would be -.-- and Z would be --.-
So, if you take YYZ you would get -.-- -.-- --..
(on guitar) the - is the third fret on A and the . is the second fret on (low) E.
so if you take that rhythm over and over again you get the intro for YYZ.
-.-- -.-- --.- -.-- -.-- --.- -.-- -.-- --.-
-.-- -.-- --.--.-- -.-- --.--.-- -.-- --.--.-- -.-- --.--.-- -.-- --.--.-- -.-- --.--.-- -.-- --.-
Justin - Aberdeen, Sd
The Exit...Stage Left version of this instrumental masterpiece is my personal favorite and Neils 3 min. drumsolo is placed ever so perfectly in the midst of the song. I'd love to see them perform it like this nowadays.Gary Lafalce - Fairmont, Wv
I have a YYZ luggage tag :)
probably the 3rd coolest thing I own.
Austin - Glendale, Az
To Mike, Schenectady, NY.

Grammy side. Never get a lead from it. in the times were really great artists were around there weren't no Grammys.

The Police, Gordon was always an A-hole and that was the main reason The Police split.
Einar - Los Angeles, Ca
Chase you could not be more right. I actually like the YYZ drum solo better because it's Neil Peart and it has more energy, but I respect the Moby Dick solo as a greater solo, being that it was John Bonham, who easily influenced Neil.Crizzle - Rincon, Ga
hey Fredrick of Stockholm, Zeps better. I am not sure which is better Moby Dick or YYZ both drum solos are awesome! guitarwise Page is better, but Lifeson comes close! and thats not John Bonahm, he died before this website was made!Chase - Miami, Fl
One of the top rush songs in my book.Jon - Enumclaw , Wa
I don't get how some people are saying that YYZ isn't that great of a song. Even some people are saying that it isn't a good song for the Moving Pictures album! I think it's perfect in every way! If La Villa Strangiato didn't exist then YYZ would be the greatest instrumental of all time!Bret - Coos Bay, Or
I love both Rush and the Police but I think that "YYZ" is the better tune. However, in defense of "Behind My Camel" I would suggest checking out the Wikipedia entry on the song. The song was composed by Andy Summers and neither Sting nor Stewart Copeland liked it. Sting refused to play on it (Andy played the basic bass line) and Stewart only played on it because he felt bad for Andy. "Behind My Camel" is more like a demo than a finished song- it's sad that Andy's bandmates wouldn't help him out with the one song that he got to write for the album.Mike - Schenectady, Ny
No..... If it's all run together then it could be YYZ but the with the strange rythm I wouldn't say it was Morse code. Well maybe if you were sending it. I guess you could say it was based on morse code but for music's sake it's all caught up in the rythm.
-.. .. -.-. -.- .... . .- -..
Jim - Proctorville, Oh
Jim in Proctorville needs to polish up on his Morse Code! That is EXACTLY the code for YYZ.
Y is -- · -- --
Z is -- -- · ·

Therefore, " -- · -- -- -- · -- -- -- -- · · " would be YYZ and every Rush enthusiast knows that is the pattern that starts the song. Get your facts straight, bro! (from a fellow Advanced license holder and Rush fan)
Keith - Avera, Ga
Just saw these guys in Edmonton and it was a great show. They closed with this classicNick - Edmonton, Canada
Best ever for rush rock on rush chya rock onJake - Green Bay, Wi
Rush is the best TRIO ever...i have to Led Zeppelin is by far, without any doubt the best band EVER...but RUSH is amazing, best trio ever! I have seen them live twice, and between Peart and Bonham ( Rush and Zep's drummers, respectively) inspired nme to play drums to begin with. i can more closely match Bonhgam's style, but can't even touch Peart....they are both amazing, but in totally different waysStephen - Cincinnati, Ky
YYZ might very well be the transmitter code for the airport BUT the intro to the song is not morse code for YYZ. I am a HAM radio operator with an advanced class license and know morse very well.Jim - Proctorville, Oh
WOW.. I JUST listened to that song by the police that beat YYZ in 1982.... complete crap man, and its only 2:54 long... wow man. Unbelievable. I love The Police, but that awards ceremony was rigged for sure!!Nathan - Toronto, On
just so you know the intro is in 10/8 not 7/8 and the harmonics caused by muting strings with the thumb are pinched harmonics.Daniel - London, United Kingdom
ohhhhh.....and we're forgetting 2112Aadea - Mumbai, India
i agree 100% curtis.....la villa strangiato is also one of the best instrumentals i have ever heard....but YYZ beats it by an inch......
and as for cygnus X-I and hemispheres.......MINDBLOWING
YYZ has the BEST bass and drums i have ever heard.....i feel full of energy every time i listen to this song
Aadea - Mumbai, India
This song is OK, at best. I have only been an avid Rush fan for perhaps three months, but it has been the best three months of my life. I currently have gathered every single Rush song recorded except for their tribute album "Feedback". No one has even mentioned some of their true greats, like La Villa Strangiato.
YYZ should be ashamed to be in the same room as La Villa Strangiato. I suppose you must just like it because it so much more simple and doesn't take all day to listen to.
You want some real music, check out the Cygnus pair, or maybe some of their stuff from Signals or Powerwindows, you will be blown away.
Curtis - Williamsburg, Ia
"I dunt see why Rush has less popularity than Zeppelin they sold more albums and have better songs
- Rocco, Toronto, Canada"

Rush has sold just above 40 million albums... Led Zeppelin has sold over 300 million. :)
Fredrik - Stockholm, Sweden
Okay! YYZ is an amazing song, piece of art!
Being there, live. It will blow you away.
Sandi - Northbridge, Ma
seymor. WTF good comes from egypt? Cotton?Rocco - Toronto
This song is credited to Lee and Peart, giving Peart another one of his rare musical writing contributions, but not to Lifeson. Surprising, given his inspired guitar work.Kent Lyle - Cincinnati, Oh
Neal Peart is a very good drummer, that being said, he can't hold a candle to Dave Weckel or Dennis Chambers. If you don't know who those two guys are, you don't know good drummers, feel free to look them up anyway.Chuck - Houston, Tx
Awesome jam session...one of the best ever!!!Kenny - Wilmot, Nh
this song is awesome, and it was actually the first rush song I heard. it was featured on guitar hero 2.Billy - A Place, Al
I liked this song wayyyyyyyy before Guitar Hero even existed.Nicole - West Covina, Ca
Alright "semor butts" firstly your name isn't funny, and secondly have you ever even been to Canada? Rush is great, but definetly not the only good thing to come out of Canada.
And with regards to the song: BEST INSTRUMENTAL EVER!
Wade - Vancouver, Canada
I dunt see why Rush has less popularity than Zeppelin they sold more albums and have better songsRocco - Toronto, Canada
i wonder what code my flight when i leaft pearson airportRocco - Toronto, Canada
What are talking about, Neil has soul, he doesn't show it much but believe me, it's thereJ - Jackson, Ga
Guys, Rush is okay. Neil can't come close to how good I am. I am the BEST EVER! Neil has no soul.John Bonham - Worcestershire, England
This song is AWESOME! Best guitar skills I've heard.Andrea - Sun Prairie, Wi
Peart claims the best drum solo of all time by far in the live version. -Hats off-Allison - Bedford, Va
Hey Kyle, in Huntington it's Geddy Lee not Less, and wat about Alex lifeson you didn't mention him as a talented guitar player. And Rush are popular, not every band can be Led Zeppelin popular.Cam - Cambridge, Canada
Although they lack the popularity of Led Zeppelin, what they do have is two of the most muscically talented members in their instrumental categories. Geddy Less on bass, and Neil Peart on drums, without a doubt the most talented bassist and drummer in music history.Kyle - Huntington, Ny
think this would even include The Beatles (soory, mates)!!!Wil - Milwaukee, Wi
I did see this performed live in '81 (and 3 other times later) and it still blows me away. I have been a Rush fan since '75 (I was only 6 months old--LOL)!!!! As far as The Police winning the Grammy...if a band is a "pop" success, more people are going to publically kiss up to them. Of course, that usually means that the band's music is relatively simplistic (the list is WAY TOO LONG to write here). Rush has always shunned the public eye, hence they are 0-for-3 in the Grammy "game"! SO WHAT....???? They are still THE MOST MUSICALLY TALENTED BAND EVER---BAR NONE!!! BTW, IWil - Milwaukee, Wi
Still blows me away.Sean - Colorado Springs, Co
Not sure how many notice this, but even Neil's ride cymbal rhythm is a faster version of the same morse code for YYZ. Most drummers playing this part do not even come close to playing it correctly.Kevin - Bozeman, Mt
to Edward in Deptford NJ: the main "morse code" riff in this truly amazing peice of instrumental mastery is indeed in 5/8, not 7/8. Rock on, dudes!Drew - Arlington, Tx
This is by far the best Rush song of all time. I play bass and find it hard to keep up with Geddy.Zach - Cadiz, Ky
Bill, did we do this justice?Robert - Schaumburg, Il
This is the only song I know where I want to be all of the musicians at the same time. If I could play any of those parts, i'd be a happy man. This is a very special song!Stuart - Huddersfield, England
Actually, Rush based this song on the airport code at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. They wrote it because when Neil Pert got back to the studio, he still had the airport tag in his pocket, so they dicided to write this later solo song, like La Villa Strangiato.Greg - Oakville, Canada
This was a song that convinced me that I was a Rush fan. I have always been fond of instrumental rock (I wore out the section of my brother's _Leftoverture_ album where "Magnum Opus" was found), and this is one of my all-time favorites.John - Overland Park, Ks
To Luc in England, I have seen it played live, well sort of. I was in the Winter Drum Line. It's an off shoot of Marching Band where you are only allowed percussion instruments. The opening might be Morse Code, but the timing is 7/8. Not easy work with.Edward - Deptford, Nj
Alot of people say that Rush made this song to show off there talent. But I think it is much more inspirational than that.Taylor - Pittsburgh, Pa
Neil Peart is one of the best drummers of our time, and "Exit, Stage Left"'s version of "YYZ" proves this.Ed - London, Canada
i dont know how the hell the lads wrote thi but it kicks ass! i'd like to see a band try and cover this by far the best instrumental song EVER well...live anywayLuc - Nottingham, England
WOW, lots of comments on a non-lyrical song. I too love this song, being introduced to it from the "Exit Stage Left" album that I listened to over and over until the tape was worn thin. I'm not aware of the Police song that took the Grammy, but I would agree that Rush deserved it over any other. Rush can do non-lyrical songs like no other if you ask me. To bad stuff like this can't get any radio play. I guess you have to be someone of open mind and ability to recognize great music.Dee - Indianapolis, In
I skipped a day of school my senior year of hs,{with my Mom & Dad's permission, of course.} Exit...Stage Left had just been released. Neil, Geddy & Alex made it worth my ass being beat by the principal the next day before our percussion line won best in state!Jim - Mtn. Home, Ar
The introduction to the song is a crotal cymbal played by Neil. It is often said to be a triangle, but this is incorrect.Bill - Moriches, Ny
I always forget, as an American, that it's pronounced "Why Why Zed."Brian - Taipei, Taiwan
I totally agree... Is BEHIND MY CAMEL really that good? Repetiton! I swear... Why did that crapola, no offense POLICE, beat YYZ? YYZ is an instrumental masterpiece... LOVE IT!Jesse - L.a., Ca
Yeah it's a great song, and 'Moving Pictures" is a great album! Don't have the live in rio dvd, but that's funny that the fans sing along.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
For some reason this song always gives me that adrenaline rush, I feel as this is more of a jam session than a song, but I've never seen Rush in concert. Personally I think more people like Tom Sawyer because it gets more radio play and appeals to the public. Like my dad says, "Most of the time the radio plays simple songs, that the public can understand, basically anything in 4/4 time is fair game. For example, they never play songs like Xanadu or 2112, because it's 1) too long and 2)too complex for average joe to understand. It's also the reason why they cycle through 3 or 4 Rush songs."Rebecca - Overland Park, Ks
yyz dose sound way better live. rush is the only good thing that comes from Canada {no offense canadians}. I also agree that too many people like "Tom Sawyer" prsonaly i think yyz and earthsine are way better than tom sawyer.Semor Butts - Cairo, Egypt
YZZ may not sound all that good Moving Pictures, but it kicks butt live!
The ending riff has not been played since 1998. You know, the riff that goes: - - - - . - - - -. . .
I liked that riff too!

I don't understand why everyone likes "Tom Saywer so much.
Koko - Bla, Al
Inspired by the old Terminal One in Toronto, which was known for being loud and hecticThomas - Victoria, Canada
The main riff in this song derives from the morse code for the letters YYZ. In morse code Y is -.-- and Z is --.. The main riff alternates between C and F#. If you take the morse code for YYZ, you get -.-- -.-- --.. Now use C for the dash - and F# for the dots . and you get the main riff.Eric - Maryland, Md
During their 1981 tour Neil Peart (Rush drummer)
performed a 3 minute drum solo 2½ minutes into this instrumental. This was recorded and released on their "Exit...Stage Left" album.
Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Behind My Camel plays the same thing over and over for 3 minutes! Come on man... YYZ has melody! Seriously. BMC has no complexity at all.James - Los Angeles, Ca
This is my favorite Rush song, too, and I love when the fans "sing along" in the Rio concert on the Rush in Rio DVD.Tiana - A City, Oh
In the Rio concert in Nov. 2002 (as seen on Rush In Rio DVD) the fans actually sing along to this "intrumental"!Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
This song is the best rush songEric - Calgary, Canada