This is the second single from Canadian rock band Rush's 20th album, Clockwork Angels. "'Headlong Flight' was one of those songs that was a joy to write and record from beginning to end," bassist Geddy Lee told Rolling Stone. "Alex [Lifeson] and I had blast jamming in my home studio one day before the second leg of the Time Machine tour, and I did not revisit that jam until a year later. Alex and I assembled the song to be an instrumental and its original title was 'Take That Lampshade Off Yo Head!', but once we saw the lyrics Neil [Peart] had written, I knew that the spirit of the lyrics matched the instrumental perfectly and it was just a matter of making them fit and writing the melodies."
Neil Peart revealed on his personal website, that he took a new approach in writing and recording his drum tracks for Clockwork Angels, helped by producer Nick "Boouizhe" Raskulinecz: "I played through each song just a few times on my own, checking out patterns and fills that might work, then called in Booujzhe," said Peart. "He stood in the room with me, facing my drums, with a music stand and a single drumstick - he was my conductor, and I was his orchestra... I would attack the drums, responding to his enthusiasm, and his suggestions between takes, and together we would hammer out the basic architecture of the part. His baton would conduct me into choruses, half-time bridges, and double-time outros and so on - so I didn't have to worry about their durations. No counting, and no endless repetition."
After laying down "Caravan" and "Brought Up To Believe" in Nashville, Rush embarked on a tour before recording the rest of Clockwork Angels in Toronto. The album's narrative of a young man's journey towards his dreams came to light after about a fortnight in Toronto. Raskulinecz recalled to MusicRadar.com: "Two weeks or so into it, as Geddy and Alex were writing more music, we all kind of looked at one another and said, 'Hey, this is really turning into something. It's tying together.' Then one day, Neil walked in the room and said, 'It's done. I finished it.'
For the next 20 minutes, Neil talked about this vision he had for the concept of the record, and it was one of those moments I'll never forget. Listening to him, watching him speak – it was amazing! I wish we were filming him so we could put it on YouTube. And right there, the whole record just clicked. Once Geddy and Al heard where Neil was going, they churned out some amazing music. I think 'Headlong Flight' came the next day."
Geddy Lee explained to MusicRadar.com that the lyrics talk, "about our hero looking back over his life and seeing all the good and all the bad things he had done and yet he still came to the conclusion that if he was pushed he would do it all over again."
Jason from HoustonWhile returning from the Peach Bowl at the end of 2015, My Brother-in-Law and I discussed in depth several Rush topics with one of them being, which is the Greatest Rush song? We concluded that they saved their best work for last while going out with a bang in Rush style with the song Headlong Flight off the album Clockwork Angels. We know this is not a light statement as we are talking about the band that wrote songs like Tom Sawyer, Freewill, Working Man, Spirit of the Radio, La Villa Strangiato, 2112, Anthem, Subdivisions... I could name a lot more, but we felt that Headlong flight had all the little riffs and changes that keep you hanging on the edge of your seat and then they go into that hard funk part that is the icing on the cake. I think that everyone's life is a headlong flight and this song is the anthem of being a living soul. It gets me pumped up every time I hear it. So that being said if it is the greatest Rush Song and If Rush is the greatest band then that might make it the greatest song ever written. [Mic Drop]