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Freewill by Rush

Album: Permanent WavesReleased: 1980
  • Geddy Lee (Rockline, Dec 4 1989): "The song is about freedom of choice and free will, and you believing in what you decide you believe in."
  • Neil Peart: "Lotus-land as it appears in 'Free Will' is simply a metaphor for an idealized background, a 'land of milk and honey.' It is sometimes also used as a pejorative name for Los Angeles, though that was not in my mind when I wrote it."
  • From the Rush FAQ: Lotus-land is mentioned in The Odyssey, where Odysseus goes to the land of the lotus-eaters. The people hang out and eat lotus petals, and are perfectly happy but basically brainless. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for all above
  • In 1993, no movie was made about this song. You're thinking of Free Willy, which is about a boy and his love for a killer whale.
  • This song uses somewhat strange time signature changes. The time signature alternates 6/4, 7/4, 6/4, 7/4, 6/4, 8/4 and repeats during the first verse. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Billy - Miami, OH
  • The lyric, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" was originally written "If you choose not to decide, you cannot have made a choice," but was later changed to make more sense logically. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Matthew Daubert - Mequon, WI
  • The Permanent Waves album marked the band's transition from epic length tracks to more compact songs, generating increases in both radio airplay and album sales. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This song can be seen as an atheist screed, as it champions the idea that we are in control of our own destinies and not listening to "some celestial voice" for guidance. Neil Peart is not an avowed atheist, but does question the existence of God.
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Comments: 47


"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" - Yes, this is free will but a deeper meaning to it which I interpret is that this verse is telling those in contemplation that motions are already in place; time awaits for no one.

This is further reinforced with further elaboration of societal / psychological environment in the following verse "You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill"

and finally the 1st person perspective that while other are doing just that (as above), (s)he has made a move even with the above factor.


"I will choose a path that's clear, I will choose freewill"
Hayden H - Singapore
Yes, God could have made the world in millions-of-year-long days, but honestly, there's far more logical proof of the world being a chunk of floating rock. Period.
Oh, sure, it's written in the Bible that a mystic being made Earth, that's all well and good. The Bible also more or less states that gay people aren't people, women aren't the equals of men, and that a talking snake and an apple ruined the lives of humanity. But hey, believing that is up to you. If you want to interpret that as choosing freewill, all the more power to you. Indeed, much power to you, considering the wealth the Catholic church has.

I, however, choose to believe that the Bible was written by primitive, sexist, homophobic, and probably racist men who enjoyed having power over the people they told stories of a vengeful God to. I interpret this as freewill.

Have nice day.
Tyler - Here, On
One of my choices for Senior Quote was "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice"

I still wish I had used that.
Ryan - Red Hook, Ny, Ny
Free will is one of the most pressing issues in the field of philosophy. Its polar opposite is predestination which was covered in the Rush song, "Roll The Bones". Since time primordial, philosophers have pondered on the reality of our existence: are we totally free of anyone's leash or is everything really prearranged so that we're all resigned to the situation we're cast in. I think a case can be made that both concepts can apply to our lives. Now we have to put our courage to the test and then make the most important decisions we're ever going to make.James - Norfolk, Va
In a 2009 interview in Heeb Magazine Geddy said he considered himself a Jewish athiest and that he was not down with religion at all.Sam - Las Vegas, Nv
This is probably my favorite Rush song (although The Trees is a very close second). To me it's a statement against fatalism. I've known so many people who have the attitude that life or the universe has conspired against them, that they are completely powerless, just being tossed around by fate. The singer is saying, "Not me...I'm going to choose my own destiny."Lisa - Rockford, Il
I am a christian and Richard that is kind of a dumb question. In all reality as a Christian you can believe that the earth is more than 6000 years old it could possibly be 10s of millions of years old or however much and this is easily shown in the bible. Well in Genesis it says that God took 7 days to create everything 1 day he created one thing and the next something else so on and so forth. Well for God time is non existent so say the one day to create the world could be 20 million years. So the world could easily be that old even by Christians and the bible. Stop being so narrow minded Richard.

That being said Rush is awesome and this song is awesome nice to see a band that is not just your run of the mill liberal thinkers. These guys think for themselves and their lyrics are so deep especially "The Trees" at least for me.
Josh - Flagstaff, Az
if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice means you have just chose freewill. duh.Stacie - St.louis, Mo
Zach im proud man!!!
Not enough Christians are around!
Eli - Hesperia, Ca
My dad never liked this song because he thought it suggested to deviate from what's right (in his case "What's right" would be God). But I never thought like that. I think they're trying to say that whatever you choose, whether it be God or not, is right as long as it's right to you. And because of this song I will choose Freewill!Bret - Coos Bay, Or
Now everyone, I want you to listen along with me as the chorus leads into the instrumental break. OK, chorus. Riff. oooh! Connecting phrase, something's about to happen. OK, here we go. Now count along with me (and the bass/drums), 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5-6, etc. Does everybody feel 1 and how 4 is accented in each measure? No? Rewind and try again. Ignore the syncopation although there is a lot of it. That's what's called 6/8 time!! Kind of like 4/4 except totally different.G - Potomac, Md
oh yeah and that concert we had 1st row and i had so much eye contact with ged mostly...it was the best day of our lives even b4 we knew we created life!Stacie - High Ridge, Mo
my daughter was conceived in cinci,ohio night b4 rush concert! her middle name is rush, her favorite song is freewill even while pregnant i would make her listen i could feel her dancing in my belly! we told the band and neil gave us drumsticks when she was 3weeks old! Rush always has and always will kick ass and be number one for me my husband and our little 'rush' baby!Stacie - High Ridge, Mo
Zach.... Do you also believe that the world was created only 6,000 years ago?Richard - Syracuse, Ny
As a christian i believe that God has given us free will. For example i can choose to rob a bank, God won't come down and hit me with lightning for it. However, i will pay for it someday. To be honest when Geddy sings he will choose free will its almost like he's choosing God. Also little side fact for those who think nature is the place for perfect harmony, that's because nature points to God. Nature recognizes the Creator, but humans somehow miss Him and take nature.Zach Abbott - Caledonia, Mi
see William James' The Will To Believe and PragmatismTristan - Los Angeles, Ca
This song means a lot to me. its all about who you choose to be and not letting anyone change that. I think that when one chooses to make ones own choices, no one can change those choices. This song illustrates the idea that man has his own mind. OUR MINDS ARE FREE!!! The song is about LIBERATION and FREEWILLAllison - A Little Ol' Town In, Mi
I believe Rush to be the greatest band of of all time, simply because they are some of the most talented musicians and they put it all together in an amazing sound. The lyrics are deeper than what most bands sing about like girls, and they are one of only a few bands that have been able to make great music for so long.Matt - Post Falls, Id
It's a pretty masterful song, lyrically and musically. It's really quintessential Rush to me. It's catchy, proggy, melodic...provocative.John - Asheville, Nc
Can any of you say "Ayn Rand?" ANother great song influenced by Rand's philosophy: Objectivism. Well done, boys! Well done.

The song is an explicit rejection of mysticism and God belief for a clear, purpose-directed life through THINKING FREELY. Choosing free will is to reject the contraints of ambiguous, arbitrary dictates.

"My mind is not for rent to any GOD or GOVERNMENT" are lyrics from another one of thier songs, which shows philosophical consistancy with the song being discussed.
John - Toronto, Canada
This song might be refering to what the alchemists call true will. Which is found by breaking the will of the ego and find a being in a state of perfect harmony.Bjørn - Vardø, Norway
This was the first Rush song I heard. I love it, I think everyone should listen to it.Amanda - Phoenix, Az
One of my faves from Rush, because it also deals with taking responsibility for your life, and your actions.Gomer - Mayberry, Nc
The lyrics are brilliant and it's my favorite Rush song. The problem is the lyrics are so difficult to understand and that's a shame because they have such incredible meaning. I'm a politics writer for a newspaper in Ohio and I love to quote great songs when they fit into articles. I've used the "choose not to decide" line in an article I once wrote about voter apathy.David - Youngstown, Oh
This is one of my favorite songs by one of, if not my favorite, bands.

love how the lyrics flow so well with the music.
Ryan - Shoreham, Ny
Great song. "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" is one of my favorite quotes of all time (sort of like "if you try to fail, and you succeed, which have you really done?" to some extent).Voodoocat - Zimbabwe, United States
I like the bass in this song, some of the best I tell ya.David - Port Hawkesbury, Canada
Great song, deep meaningMike - Santa Barbara , Ca
This is a great song talking about our frewill to do whatever we want. Alex,Geddy,and Neil you guys rock. I'm going to see you this summer in Canada. ROCK ON!!!!Kevin - Erie, Pa
This song is about living for one's own convictions. It's similar to "Tom Sawyer" in that vein. There's a triumphant ring in the chorus, stating proudly, "I will choose a path that's clear / I will choose free will!" Then an almost disgusted tone to the verses as those who act like mindless sheep are described: "There are those who think / That they were dealt a losing hand / The cards were stacked against them / They weren't born in Lotusland."Joe Public - Anytown, Al
Thats what it sounds like like, Joe.
This song talks about how some people believe that every aspect of their lives is being controlled because someone (a god) has already made the choice for them. Because there is no way in proving this, you might as well not blame everything on someone else and believe that you can control your own life.
Peter - Mountain View, Ca
Lyical studies aside the guitar solo is a tour de force!!!!!!!!!!!!!Robert - Schaumburg, La
If you choose not too decide you still HAVE made a choice.

...and you have!
Stuart - Huddersfield, England
I love Rush, and I love this song.

Vote Libertarian!
Brad - Indianapolis, In
i believe the lyrics, written and sung are, if you choose not too decide you still haven't made a choiceKelly - Houston, Tx
This is essentialy about the philosophical arguement between free will and determinism. It attacks both scientific and religious determinism:"The stars aren't aligned,
Or the gods are malign..." Of the arguement Rush develops the opinion that not only is a world that we can't control dark and purposeless but also that what ever we choose to believe in is itself a choice, illustrating logical proof of free will. It is obvious that they believe that free will is more in accordance with a divine plan and despite what science may offer we ultimately have soverignty over our own lifes, evidenced by our self awareness:"Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete.
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends."
It is also clear that they see a deterministic approach to life as an excuse fo moral ambivalence and lack of perseverance.
Ernest - Northfield Center, Oh
I think the lyrics are much more simple than they seem, dont over complicateSean - Newmarket, Canada
To me the lyric, "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice" Illistrates the fact that somebody who is not strong enough to state that they don't believe in God ( by choosing not to make a choice and wait on the fence) has in fact made a choice by hedging his bets just in case there is a God. In a nutshell it takes as much belife, faith and commitment to say you don't belive in God as it does to say you do. But most people would prefere to wait and see, rather that get out there and make it happen for themselves.Glenn - Swansea, Wales
probably just sang it wrong in studio but a listen back figured it sounded better good job geddy!Rob - Las Vegas, Nv
When I hear this song, I always think of not letting government, religion, etc. control you and/or think for you. Just do what you believe you want to do!Yolanda Morphinite - Bountiful , Ut
Good job Joe. That always made me think too.Yolanda Morphinite - Bountiful , Ut
Way to go, Joe! Looking carefully at Rush! I like your style!Koko - Bla, Al
In the sheet music the lyrics are written as "If you choose not to decide, you still haven't made a choice"Mike - Rochester, Ny
Thanks, John.Joe - Miami, Fl
Yes Joe, the printed lyrics from the old vinyl album did have an alternate lyric. I always assumed that the members rethought the lyric, as the recored one "...you still have made a choice..." is so much more clever and in keeping with the spirit of the song.John - Santa Maria, Ca
quote from songfacts: "In 1993, no movie was made about this song. You're thinking of Free Willy, which is about a boy and his love for a killer whale." -This is correct but there was a film from 1993 titled "Falling Down" that might illustrate these lyrics fairly well.Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
My recollection is that the lyrics included in the album (yes, album) for Permanent Waves included the line "If you choose not to decide, you cannot have made a choice." This, despite that Geddy has always sang "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Can anyone confirm this (sadly, I no longer have my old albums)? If true, does anyone have any information on the reason behind the discrepancy?Joe - Miami, Fl
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