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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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