Double Agent
by Rush

Album: Counterparts (1993)

Songfacts®:

  • Geddy Lee (from the Counterparts World Radio Premiere): "'Double Agent' was a complete exercise in self-indulgence, and really, it was one of the last things we wrote on the record. We'd written all these songs that were heavily structured and were crafted and meticulously worked on: this note and that note, and this is a song we just wanted to kind of get our yah-yahs out and just have a bit of a rave. And really, it's one of the goofiest songs I think we've ever written, but I'm quite happy with the result. In its own way, I think it's an interesting little piece of lunacy." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington

Comments: 9

  • Louis from Glendale, AzWhether the song is supposed to have the demented feel or to show what the band wants to do now and then in terms of fun, defining the song is almost simple.

    Put it into perspective, have you ever wanted to be somewhere else rather than where you were at a current moment? It's happened plenty of times.
  • Alex from Boston, MaBy the way Jesse,L.A.,CA, that is not true. In the song Subdivisions,there is a spoken word in the chorus.Also, the very end of Chain Lightning.
  • John from Asheville, NcI like this song. Really odd bird. The vocals are unique in this one.
  • Don from Cary, NcI think this song depicts the "double agent" as ourselves in the constant battle of good and evil.
  • Jordan from Port Hope, CanadaWhat gets me is how Geddy says that 'Double Agent' is demented. Now, I'm not sure if he means that because of the music -- it may sound weird? Or if it is just that voice? Maybe. But if he means lyrically demented... I'm not sure he understands what Neil is trying to say. Heck, I might not understand what he's trying to say. But I have a pretty plausible interpretation.


    Where would you rather be?
    Anywhere but here
    When will the time be right?
    Anytime but now

    (What this is saying is that he'd rather be anywhere but where he is now. That is to say, out of this situation.)

    On the edge of sleep,
    I was drifting for half the night
    Anxious and restless,
    pressed down by the darkness
    Bound up and wound up so tight
    So many decisions, a million revisions
    Caught between darkness and light...

    (So many decisions. And taking the theme of Counterparts into consideration, this probably means that he's mulling over whether to go ahead with a relationship with this other person, or to forget about it. He's figuring out possible outcomes of both options. Hence, "Caught between darkness and light". Counterparts, right? Sort of like you hit a fork in the road.)

    Wilderness of mirrors
    World of polished steel
    Gears and iron chains
    Turn the grinding wheel
    I run between the shadows
    Some are phantoms, some are real

    (Like his brain is working, and some things deceive him. He is confused.)

    Where would you rather be?
    Anywhere but here
    When will the time be right?
    Anytime but now
    The doubt and the fear
    I know would all disappear
    Anywhere but here

    (Like in the first verse. If he could be anywhere but in this situation, all his doubt and fear would disappear.)

    On the edge of sleep,
    I heard voices behind the door
    The known and the nameless,
    familiar and faceless
    My angels and my demons at war
    Which one will lose - depends on what I choose
    Or maybe which voice I ignore...

    (Angles and demons at war [again, counterparts]. Basically, his mind is in conflict. And he has to make the choice. The voices could also be referring to his conscience. [e.g. cartoons with the angel and evil spirits standing on someones shoulder, telling them what they should do.] So it's all his decision whether to go with this person.)

    Wilderness of mirrors
    Streets of cold desire
    My precious sense of honor
    Just a shield of rusty wire
    I hold against the chaos -
    And the cross of holy fire

    (He's being tempted by people. Like in the dark parts of town where all the prostitutes are. He has some honor, but it's weak -- like a rusty wire. But he still holds it against all of the chaos like that.)

    Wilderness of mirrors
    So easy to deceive
    My precious sense of rightness
    Is sometimes so naive
    So that which I imagine
    Is that which I believe

    (It's deceiving sometimes when you make choices. Sometimes what looks right, or seems right according to your sense it wrong. And it is foolish.)

    On the edge of sleep, I awoke to a sun so bright
    Rested and fearless, cheered by your nearness
    I knew which direction was right
    The case had been tried by the jury inside
    The choice between darkness and light...

    (In the end he makes the right decision. The good decision, since he wakes up to a light. Whoever he's in love with is by his side. He saw the right path -- he knew which direction was the right way. The case had been tried by the jury inside -- the final decision had been made. The choice between darkness and light -- whether to maintain this relationship. And he did.)
  • Kent Lyle from Cincinnati, OhRush finally breaks away from verse/chorus/verse/chorus 4/4 pop format that had served them well in the late 1980s and reminds us again of their progressive roots.
  • Randy from Colerain Twp., Oh Jesse, I would consider the verses containing "Jack, relax. Get busy with the facts...", from the song 'Roll the Bones', from the self-titled CD, a 'spoken' part. This was released in 1991, BEFORE 'Counterparts' was. According to an interview with Neil Peart on 'Rockline' after the CD was released, Geddy Lee also did the 'deep' voice of this section of the song.
  • Jesse from L.a., Ca This is the first Rush song to feature a spoken part since 1977's A Farewell to Kings (Cygnus X-1).
  • Mike from Philadelphia, PaGreat Song, and how it goes right into "Leave That Thing Alone" is simply an amazing touch.
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