Cygnus X-1
by Rush

Album: A Farewell to Kings (1977)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Cygnus X-1 is the name given to an X-ray source in the constellation of Cygnus, believed to be a black hole. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
  • In Greek mythology, Rocinante is the name of the horse that Zeus rides. It was also the name of Steinbeck's motor home in Travels With Charlie, as well as the name of Don Quixote's horse. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
  • This is a two-part song, with part 1 appearing on A Farewell To Kings and Part 2 appearing on Hemispheres. The two individual parts are only tenuously connected. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeff - Haltom City, TX
  • Part 1 was split into these different sections: The Voyage: I. Prologue / II. / III. Book 2 was divided into these sections: Hemispheres: I. Prelude / II. Apollo: Bringer Of Wisdom / III. Dionysus: Bringer Of Love / IV. Armageddon: The Battle Of Heart And Mind / V. Cygnus: Bringer Of Balance / VI. The Sphere: A Kind Of Dream. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gary - Gaston, SC
  • Geddy Lee's unique vocals on this track resulted, in part, from experimentation with different microphones.

Comments: 24

  • Michael The Gamer from VtAs far as high notes that, IMHO, are really Really there for a reason or if you like, with extra emphasis is on the song A Farewell to Kings, "EYES cast down on the path of least resistahh-ance." And as a kind of 'Duh, tell us something we don't know,' but I have to put it in anyway because it was, and is a great lyrical intro is The Temples of Syrinx (aside from the 7 words said in the actual 2112 intro, Overture). We miss you Neil!
  • Mark from Sioux FallsThere is a video on YouTube called Cygnus X1 isolated bass, drums and vocals. In the video, you can hear what Geddy’s voice sounds like without the special effects added.
  • Erik from York , PaGeddy is far superior to any other singer that has ever existed in this universe
  • Rowan from Brattleboro, United KingdomAt the end, :every nerve is torn apart," it sounds as though Geddy Lee is jamming a helium compressor into his six-mile long nose and then using the exess gas t6o inflate his skull and then jam a bagpipe down his throat whilst exhaling
  • Claude from Kingston, MaYou guys are gonna hate me for this, but I always cringe a bit when I hear Geddy at the end of this song. In my opinion, not his best moment. Sorry 'bout that. And by the way, once again, IMHO, his best is when he hits the high notes in Freewill.
  • Josh from Grand Rapids, MiAwesome song, one of their best
  • Michael from Oxford, -Certainly if I wanted to record a version of this, I would have two choices:

    (1) Sing the final two lines a major second or so lower, then adjust upwards on the computer. This would still require a top G# so I'd need to have someone in the studio to administer an Indian burn or something. Since this would come at great expense to my welfare, the other solution would be to...

    (2) ask a woman to guest-star on the song. Whether any of my female acquaintances would WANT to do that is a moot point.
  • Michael from Oxford, -I agree with Brad and David about the vocals. This is the one song I've heard on which a male vocalist hits a note that I can't (voluntarily at least). But how do we know it's not a sped-up tape or something?
  • John from Asheville, NcI like the intro to this song...and bits and pieces of it...but it's not a favorite epic of mine, nor is it any where nearly as tight-knit as Hemispheres.
  • Don from Franklin, MaFunny thing about Cygnus X-1; it was the subject of a bet between Stephen Hawkings and a fellow astrophysicist - that if the x-ray anomaly was actually a black hole, Hawkings would buy the other guy a year's subscription to Penthouse. Hawkings lost the bet, much to the horror of the wife of the winning scientist.
  • Jason from Boston, MaMike Portnoy of Dream Theater was in a rush tribute band called cygnus and sea monsters...
    cool
  • Daniel from Perth, AustraliaMan, I love Neil's work as a lyricist. He's inspired me to open my mind and look for a more creative and metaphorical view to my lyrics.
  • Brad from Chicago, Il"Every vocal cord is torn apaaaarrrrrrrtttttttt!!!!!" (cough, cough, effing OUCH!!!!)
  • Kent Lyle from Cincinnati, OhRumor has it that Terry Brown performed the spoken introduction.
  • Aaron from Williamstown, MaYou shouldnt get ur mythology from disney movies. Pegasus was a winged-horse tamed by Bellerophron and when he tried to take over olympus pegasus threw his rider to death and then the winged horse became the bearer of Zeus' thunderbolts. Now, as far as i know neil has only referenced Steinbeck and Don Quioxte wehn talking about the Rocinante. I love this band and this album.
  • Gary from Gaston, ScPart 1 was split into these different sections: The Voyage: I. Prologue / II. / III.

    Part 2 was split up as such: Hemispheres: I. Prelude / II. Apollo: Bringer Of Wisdom / III. Dionysus: Bringer Of Love / IV. Armageddon: The Battle Of Heart And Mind / V. Cygnus: Bringer Of Balance / VI. The Sphere: A Kind Of Dream
  • Taylor from Sioux Falls, SdPegasus was not Zeus' horse. Pegasus was Hercules' horse. Zeus gave it to Hercules when both Hercules and Pegasus were infants.
  • David from Flagstaff, AzI got this album 'A Farewell to Kings' when it first came out, listened to this song over, and over, again. It shows Neil Peart's fertile imagination, telling the story of what it would be like to fly a spaceship into a black hole. The result is summed up by Geddy Lee, singing in impossibly high notes, "Every nerve is torn apart".
  • Anthony from New Haven, CtNear the end of the song, as the ship is being sucked into the black hole, a Church Bell can be heard...the bells of a Church back home ringing because back home, they think the guy's lost in space or dead...spooky...
  • Allen from Coquitlam, CanadaActually, as far as my sources state, there is very little reference to Zeus actually having a mount. Pegasus was NOT Zeus' mount, but rather the first of the winged horses, who was known to help the great heroes of greek myhthology (Heracles, Achilles, etc.) "Rocinante" was indeed first used as the name of Don Quixote's horse, and it does mean "formerly a nag."
  • Mike from Philadelphia, PaIts "obsessed", and its Neil Peart, not "neal." Also its "inspiration."

    Yeah this is a hell of a good song.
  • Jesse from L.a., CaLove this song. The bass part that fades in is so cooooooooooool...
  • Rick from Round Lake , IlI am absest with rush and i am a guitar/bass/drummer/songwriter and neal inspries me so much let alone this song and a bunch of other rush songs Rush is my insperation for everything i owe my life to them
  • Pj from Morristown, NjRocinante is NOT the name of a horse that Zeus rides. I know Neil Peart stated this in some interview somewhere, but quite simply Neil either misspoke or was just plain wrong. So far as I can tell from mythological references, Zeus's horse was Pegasus.

    Rocinante originates in Don Quixote and roughly translates to "Formerly a Nag;" since his horse "was" a nag (an inferior horse), but is now his battle steed.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.

Judas Priest

Judas PriestSongwriter Interviews

Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton talk twin guitar harmonies and explain how they create songs in Judas Priest.

Tanita Tikaram

Tanita TikaramSongwriter Interviews

When she released her first album in 1988, Tanita became a UK singing sensation at age 19. She talks about her darkly sensual voice and quirky songwriting style.

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)Songwriter Interviews

"Come On Eileen" was a colossal '80s hit, but the band - far more appreciated in their native UK than stateside - released just three albums before their split. Now, Dexys is back.

Women Who Rock

Women Who RockSong Writing

Evelyn McDonnell, editor of the book Women Who Rock, on why the Supremes are just as important as Bob Dylan.

Michelle Branch

Michelle BranchSongwriter Interviews

Michelle Branch talks about "Everywhere," "The Game Of Love," and her run-in with a Christian broadcasting network.