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Witch Hunt

by

Rush



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

According to the Rush biography Visions, the saying at the beginning was purposely mixed so it could not be understood. The idea was to add to the feeling of fear. It was created using sounds of the band screaming outside the studio.
Alex Lifeson (from "In The Studio"): "We went outside of Le Studio and it was so cold, it was really cold; we were well into December by then, I think. We were all out there. We put a couple of mics outside. We started ranting and raving. We did a couple of tracks of that. I think we had a bottle of Scotch or something with us to keep us warm. So as the contents of the bottle became less and less, the ranting and raving took on a different flavor. We were in the control room after we had layed down about twelve tracks of mob - in hysterics. Every once in awhile you'd hear somebody say something really stupid."
Hugh Syme played synthesizers on this song. He created most of the Rush cover art.
This is part of "The Fear Trilogy," which is also made up of the songs "The Enemy Within" (Part I from Grace Under Pressure) and "The Weapon" (Part II from Signals). This is part III. They are all played in sequence is the live Grace Under Pressure Tour video. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for all above)
Vocalist Geddy Lee told The Plain Dealer newspaper in a 2011 interview the song's message is even more relevant today than when it was first recorded: "It's one of those songs that means as much today, if not more, considering what's gone on in the world with racial profiling and all these different issues. The sentiment of that song is as appropriate as ever."
The song was recorded the same night that John Lennon was shot in New York. The band was right in the middle of laying down the tune when they heard the tragic news.
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Comments (20):

Rush could relate the title to two reasons. First, the "Witch Hunt" is actually political views of people that don't follow their ways and second it's an actually Salems Lot Witch Hunt. Reason why people view Christians bad is that they don't understand that those people were doing unholy things, like burning woman at the stake for not following their "Christians" ways. I myself am a follower of Christ and I would never be violent or evil like those back during the crusades, who were not quite educated and probably loaded with false propaganda. Mean really, look at Christians today, their some of the nicest people you could meet. We don't kill like those blinded people back then, we are forgiving and not grudge holding and we certainly don't force people to follow our religious beliefs. Those who try to do that are obviously incorrect and not doing right.
- Drake, Huntington Beach, CA
See also "Words of the Witch" by Lonewolf.
- Matthew, Milford, MA
I've always felt that this song is about christians who want to destroy, or get rid of what they don't understand, what they fear, what they hate, what they find as offensive, and what they believe would be offensive to God.

My second favorite song from 'Moving Pictures' (after 'The Camera Eye'), and one of their best. I feel this song lyrically makes a very profound statement.
- Brad, Topeka, KS
Dusty is right...on both accounts. The flames were intense: you could feel the PRESSURE of the heat on your face if you were in the first 10-12 rows...intense. And, with regard to his comment about Alex, he is dead on. The intricacy of his playing puts him in a class of guitarists that number but a select few and are hands and feet above nearly every other rock guitarist currently playing: he is a true master.
- Larry, Ft. Pierce, FL
When they did this on the Time Machine Tour, they had fire coming up through fire blasters in the intro. It was so cool. I was just watching, awed. It was the greatest day of my life (I was already a huge Rush fan). I think Alex Lifeson is one of the, if not THE most underrated guitarist of all time.
- Dusty, St. Louis, MO
I am an avid Rush fan. While hard to pick a favorite song, if I had to, this is it...The lyrics to this song are as true today as they were at the dawn of time...its haunting music and geddy's emotion come through as much as on any song...the best version I have heard is from grace under pressure live album...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gHKNwpny9o...
(The righteous rise, with burning eyes, of hatred and ill-will, mad men fed on fear and lies, to beat and burn and kill)...Peart at his lyrical best and a Lifeson riff to follow almost above all others...God Bless Rush...Actually he already has
- al, Long Island, NY
This was the song that I picked to play for my parents when I was about 14 to show them what a great band Rush was. A couple years later I ripped off the story line of the song in a paper I wrote for an English class. I got an A of course.
- Claude, Kingston, MA
I've come to appreciate this truly powerful song the more I've come to understand the nature of a great many more people in our own society than I would have once acknowledged. Fear and the pursuant intolerance and hatred that almost invariably follows have gripped so many people here at home in the States. Above, WIL says it quite accurately: "The only difference from the time of the Salem witch trials and today is that now entire national governments are participating in the ritual--not just local governments and religious fanatics. By the way, many of the religious fanatics operate under the guise of "Christianity"! If some-one dare criticize the USA and its national policies, the person is labeled a terrorist (or un-American)" I'm convinced, from what I've observed over the past couple of decades, that this is a true statement.
- Louie, NYC, NY
I love Witch Hunt's solo from A Show of Hands. It's one of Alex's best.
- Gabriel, Minneapolis, MN
I love this song. Lyriclly and muscilly. It's got such a catchy beat. A kinda beat where you only like it if your really a prog rock fan. Anyone else would like, "What the heck is this junk?"
'Features distorted in the flickering light. Faces are twisted and grotesque. Silent and stern in the sweltering night,
The mob moves like demons possesed.
Quiet in conscience, calm in their right,
Confident their ways are best.'

'Those who know what's best for us. Must rise and save us from ourselves.'
These are my favorite two parts in this song.
- Sam, Nashville, TN
I think this song is somewhat about racisim. "Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand".
- Justin, Bethlehem, PA
"quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand." This line shows the depth of this band. The depth from a personal standpoint reflected in their art called music.
- Matt, Grand Rapids, MI
There is also another "trilogy" by Rush. On Roll The Bones, they subtitled "Where's My Thing" as Part IV, 'Gangster Of Boats' Trilogy. It was quite the chucklefest on Rockline when someone asked if they would be releasing the other three parts in reverse order. as Fear had been.
- Rik, Navarre, FL
There's a part IV of the fear "trilogy", and this is on the album Vapor Trails, it is the song Freeze - Part IV of Fear.
- Adrian, Monterrey, Mexico
The only difference from the time of the Salem witch trials and today is that now entire national governments are participating in the ritual--not just local governments and religious fanatics. By the way, many of the religious fanatics operate under the guise of "Christianity"!!! :( :( :( If some-one dare criticize the USA and its national policies, the person is labeled a terrorist (or un-American)!!!!!
- WIL, Milwaukee, WI
I first heard this song a while ago, but never really thought about it 'til now. "quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand." Makes me think of the society we live in now
- Patrick, Roseville, MN
I'll never forget the first time I saw this song title before I heard the song. With the title of "Witch Hunt", given that I was about 8 years old at the time and was devouring the contents of "2112", "Fly By Night", "Caress of Steel", "A Farewell to Kings" and "Hemispheres", I was expecting this to be a humorous, imaginative song perhaps inspired once again by Tolkein-esque sci-fi/fantasy. Instead, it was an epic tune with a political slant, that sadly is still relevant today, 25 years on, in this world of terrorists, nationalists, fascists and bigots. I used to wonder if the title was therefore supposed to be ironic, however, it was only when I was 16 that my father broke to me the fact that the turn "witch-hunt" means a campaign against people with unpopular views.
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
lyrically, this is, by far my favorite song by any band ever.
"quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand. ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand"
- nick, nyc, NY
"They say there are strangers who threaten us
In our immigrants and infidels
They say there is strangeness too dangerous
In our theaters and bookstore shelves
That those who know what's best for us
Must rise and save us from ourselves"

Does any of this sound like what the government is feeding us in order to pass things like the "Patriot Act"

Quick to judge
Quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear walk hand in hand...

This is what will happen if we aren't careful... WOW what a prophetic tune
- Steve, Marietta, PA
The "Fear" trilogy is not a trilogy anymore, it has a fourth part, "Freeze" on Vapor Trails
- Maxx, Fitchburg, MA
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