Countdown
by Rush

Album: Signals (1982)
Charted: 36

Songfacts®:

  • This was inspired by the April 12, 1981 launch of the Columbia Space Shuttle, the first reusable manned spacecraft. The band were guests of NASA for the launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida (they saw it from an area called Red Sector A, which "inspired another song"). Rush drummer Neil Peart wrote the lyric, which describes the feeling of anticipation and wonder as they took in the historic event. "It was an incredible thing to witness," said Peart. "A truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
  • Rush dedicated this song to astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen, and "all the people of NASA for their inspiration and cooperation."
  • Audio from NASA's actual countdown to launch was interspersed through this song.
  • Alex Lifeson told Guitar magazine, 1984: "A song like 'Countdown' has a bar of 4/4 followed by a bar of 11/8. It's more of a feel thing than a conscious effort. The way we write, we have the lyric or an idea of what the song is going to be. That idea sets a mood. By changing the time signature you can change the whole effect of the song. I guess in that respect we do go off into those changes without making a conscious effort. Yet it does make the song more complex. That influence came from the British progressive movement and bands like Yes and Genesis. They had a big influence on us. I guess you're always picking something that is around that has an effect on the way you hear music. As long as you can hear those things and apply them, you're growing. A lot of times bands lock into something and stay there and that's the end. They make two or three records of the same thing, which happen to be their most popular, and that's it for them." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington

Comments: 11

  • Alejandro Obregon from México CityThis song makes me remember when i was studying engineering, i dreamed about being an astronaut, one of my favorite songs ever, thank you Rush for the inspiration.
  • Gabe From Chicago from Chicago, IlI think the argument could be made that "Passage to Bangkok" is, pretty much about drugs. The point about Rush's lyrics remains however. Good list.

  • Rob from Los Osos, Cathe Shuttle was actually launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It landed at Edwards AFB in California
  • Dougee from San Bernardino, CaWhen I was a teenager one of my biggest dreams was to witness a Shuttle launch. Now, almost 30 years later, I haven't yet (live on the opposite coast, darn it) but this song's vivid imagery makes me feel almost like I was an eyewitness. "This day when super science mingles with the bright stuff of dreams..."
  • John from Asheville, NcI think the song's dated, but that's just what happens when you document "a moment." However, I think the band definitely made sure the song was atmospheric...and the NASA dialogue is a strong part of this experience. As a song it's just ok....as a project and an historical reflection it's pretty special. I like it more than most fans I know...LOL.
  • Warner from Stanley, KsSo what was the music that was played for the astronauts that is referred to in this song?
  • Don from Franklin, MaThis song is always tinged with a little sadness for me, because its the Columbia, and I still remember quite clearly that sad morning when I woke my wife up saying 'the Columbia has burned up in reentry.'
    Obviously not the same crew, but its still somewhat haunting to hear the chatter between the Columbia and Houston.
  • Brad from Chicago, IlDescribes perfectly the experience of being close-up and at hand of THE first "space shuttle" launch. "Lit up with anticipation the star of this unearthly show, venting vapours like the breath of a sleeping white dragon"...HOLY CRAP!!!! What a word-smith!!!
  • Jesse from L.a., Ca Geddy's keyboard part in this song is terrific! Love this song. It gives me chills.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesOriginally a No.41 hit in the UK in September 1982 as a double A-Side with the live version of "New World Man", the single was re-issued and peaked at No. 36 in April 1983, becoming Rush' fifth and last UK Top 40 hit.
  • Patrick from Boston, MaThis song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. What a fantastic tribute to this achievment.
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