Despite being an instrumental, the song tells a complete story, complete with plot and characters. It's based on some nightmares Alex Lifeson experienced.
Suggestion credit: Matthew Daubert - Mequon, WI
Divided into 12 segments, as follows: I-- Buenos Nochas, Mein Froinds!, II-- To Sleep, Perchance To Dream, III-- Strangiato Theme, IV-- A Lerxst in Wonderland, V-- Monsters!, VI-- The Ghost of the Aragon, VII-- Danforth and Pape, VIII-- The Waltz of the Shreves, IX-- Never Turn Your Back on a Monster!, X-- Monsters! (Reprise), XI- Strangiato Theme (Reprise), XII-- A Farewell To Things.
One of the few songs on which drummer Neil Peart is credited with writing some of the music. He is usually only credited with writing lyrics.
The live version of this song, from the CD Exit... Stage Left contains some nonsensical lyrics in the "Danforth and Pape" segment. The CD flyer contains a "loose translation" of these lyrics.
On the live CD and DVD Rush In Rio, Alex Lifeson delivers a comedy monologue during the "Monsters! (Reprise)" section. Geddy Lee ceases playing this song during this segment and begins briefly playing the song "The Girl From Ipanema" in response to one of Alex's jokes.
Suggestion credit: Jeff - Haltom City, TX, for all above
"Danforth and Pape" is an intersection in downtown Toronto. It is well known for being somewhat chaotic during 'rush hour.'
Suggestion credit: Alexander - Bracebridge, Canada
The song that inspired the "Monsters!" section was the 1936 song "Powerhouse" by Raymond Scott. Warner Brothers music director Carl Stalling used "Powerhouse" in his Warner Brothers cartoon scores during the '40s and '50s. The music wasn't originally written for cartoons, publishing rights for a limited catalog of Raymond Scott's titles were sold to Warner Brothers in 1943. Yet not only was "Powerhouse" used in the old "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" cartoons, it has been sampled more recently by other bands such as Devo and They Might Be Giants; more recently cartoons including The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy, Duckman, Batfink and Animaniacs, also the Cartoon Network's theme song, and throughout the Disney film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! (without crediting Scott - Disney was threatened with a lawsuit and the matter was settled out of court). Rush didn't give credit to Scott for their use of "Powerhouse" either. By the time Raymond Scott's publisher notified the band's management of the infringement, the statute of limitations had expired on the challenge. But Rush's management, out of deference to Mr. and Mrs. Scott (Raymond was still alive at that point), and being the class act that they are, offered a one-time "penance" payment, feeling it was the ethical thing to do. All involved were happy with the resolution, and Rush has no further financial obligations. Under the settlement, they were not required to accord Raymond Scott partial songwriting credit on the piece. For additional information visit FAQ at RaymondScott.com.
Suggestion credit: Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Villa Strangiato is a real place in Italy. It was the home of the late Barone (Baron) Strangiato, an Italian nobleman, but it is not a major Italian landmark.
Suggestion credit: FranZ - Rome, Italy
Neil Peart joked that Rush spent more time working on this song than they did on the entire Fly by Night album.
Nathan from HuhPart of this song must be unconsciously based on this scene, https://youtu.be/v4FdMp_zTAQ
Tommy from Monroe N.cTo Scott
Anthem is about thinking for yourself Bangkok is about weed By-Tor and the snowdog is about one of Neil's friends who had a dog that bit people (By-Tor=Biter) and a white dog (Snowdog) who took many of the bites. The white dog eventually got into a fight with the biting dog and won. Xanadu is about an 18th century play (I believe) Something for Nothing is about when you give but don't get. The Trees is about Canada and the two political parties (or something like that) Cygnus X-1 is about the journey to a black hole on a rocket ship named after a racehorse Hemispheres is about when Apollo and Dionysus are fighting using intelligence and love and then the hero comes and ends the fight with a scream and telling them to realize what they're doing to the world, then they make him a god so he can keep balance and order in the universe. Closer to the heart is about government officials. A Farewell to kings is about breaking free from your oppressor La Villa Strangiato is about alex lifesons dreams and nightmares 2112 is about a futuristic world where all music and other stuff is banned, then the hero finds a guitar and then shows it to their leaders, they smash it then the hero kills themself. Theres other details but you can look that up on your own. Bastille Day is about the french revolution ONLY Working Man is about the average working man In the Mood is about creepy love.
Hopefully this brings light to misconstrued ideas.
Drake from Huntington Beach, CaIt's true that the song was token in three takes and represents up to almost 12 different stories in one. For a song with no vocal lyrics it tells an interesting tale. Even today it's considered number one out of all the rush songs.
Chris from Cheektowaga, NyScott. From Austin, MN. If you got all of that by putting those pieces together you need to speak to Jehovahs' Witnesses. They can help you see that their is even a bigger picture that most have a hard time accepting.
Ken from Toronto, OnSo many people repeating incorrect information. Watch "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage". You will see Geddy say in an interview, they wanted to record it in 1 take but couldn't. They had to settle for doing in 3 parts. If you don't want to believe that, then go call Geddy Lee a liar.
Larry from Ft. Pierce, FlSome great comments and personal views on one of the most perfectly choreographed instrumentals every written and performed. HOWEVER, uh, Scott (Austin, MN), I am sorry to say that, perhaps, you require some professional help from a good psychologist: I do believe you have been on "A Passage to Bangkok" far too long and that smokey haze that is constantly wafting through your cabin has finally had a toll on rational thought. Sleep it off, buddy...we're all routing for you.
Jodi from Southgate, MiSorry Kevin, this song was done in three takes, much to the bands dismay
Gary Lafalce from Fairmont, Wvto Bryan, Pittsburgh, PA: La Villa Strangiato is not translated to "a lesson in self indulgence" (however that is a subtitle used but not published on the actual album) it is Italian and the correct translation to English is roughly "Strange city" or Strange House"
Joe from Manchester, Njmichael, kearny, NJ is 100% wrong in fact the song was recorded in 1 take but they had to try numerous times and according to geddy lee they recorded so many times on one tape that it came out scratchy and that is still evident on the cd
Luke from Detroit, Miamazing guitar work...alex lifeson
Matt from Fort Collins, CoFar and away the best Rush song out there. The rare combination of rhythmical brilliance and musical complexity make this song a pleasure to listen to. If anyone ever thinks that Lifeson isn't an underrated guitarist they need to give the solo in this song a listen. BEST SOLO EVER!
Scott from Austin, MnThis not only discribes in detail what La Villa Strangiato is all about, but also what Neil Peart and the world is trying to tell you (no joke)! The best way for me to prove to you what I say is true is by trying to apply/relate all messages you don't generally understand to this concept(from Ray of light by madonna, to Imagine by John Lennon, to one by U2, to "In This Moment" (american idol finalist song, not to mention all the rest of the songs on the final), all the way to ancient stories from the Summarians. Hang with me now for just a sec. longer Ready? OK then...
Rush 1978 Tour Set list (exact order)
-OR- (more to the point)
The History of ManKind by Neil Peart (think college thesis/genus/Neil Peart)
I. Anthem (First song/Intro/thesis statement literally)
A. Ann Rynd - Illuminati advocate. Girlfriend of the head of the Illuminati @ the time of publishing B. Ann Rand advocated rational individualism which is considered a political and ideological philosophy. (think rationaly for yourself and do not believe religions of the world). C. Its all inside of you already. The light (its called a photon and yes, its a real thing in your body)
II. Bankok A. Open your mind for whats comming...Self explanitory
III. By-tor and the Snowdog
A. Think By-tor as a metaphor for the human races struggle with this duality on earth, and the snowdog represents the current illuminatti (those that have ruled our planet as the elites sinse the last turn of the Galagtic Equanox (which the last galactic equanox was from Fall to WINTER). Thus we're currently in a long cold winter (snowdog). But not for too long folks, if you can read this, you will probebly be here because, brace yoursef... Neil and I believe that 21 December 2012 (21.12.12) is the time when man will break his karmic duality and finnally become one with the light and universe as we go through the...wait for it....The Photon Belt! If it sounds heavy, it's because it is relly heavy my friend. Any jaws on the ground? It gets better.... B. By(as in Bi or 2)/ Tor (as in torn apart) 1. Bytor is a metaphor for mans duality which is split currently between Love and Reason (Hemespheres)(2). C. By-tor is actually good throughout the whole story (people just get confused when he says By-tor is the Knight of darkness. If you notice (I seriously just checked for the first time right now),Knight is spelled with a "K" in the song, not night as in night time (theres the anwser to an ancient Rush mystery for most. Bytor has always been good! Bytor is thus a Knight w/in the darkness. Thats right folks, hell on earth and we're (humans) represented by Neil as By-tor, the light, a knight (good)...So, By-tor (Good) VS Snowdog - Winter equanox (Evil). GOOD VS EVIL, right here and right now. For real. Just look at all Rush Lyrics now, and for that matter the doors (children of the sun) Sabbath (children of grave), etc, etc, etc..... Next song...
IV. Xanadu A. By-tor, being the last of the immortals (from the last spin through the Photon Belt), looks for his homeland after the great last earth change in the "caves of Ice" (think ancient technology, crystals, etc). By the way, hes praying for the light (to come back that is).
V. Something for nothing A. neil is trying to say that the journey is long and hard, and that you can't get something for nothing, you have to activly look (and I did...)
VI. The Trees
A. Easy, its a metaphor for us vs them (Us and Them is also about the same thing by Pink Floyd) We are the maples (humans), but the Oaks are taking up our light ( a genus metaphor for the Illuminattis coviering of the secret to the masses, thus dening us the light (Photonic energy form the sun). (sun worship) Anyone seeing this???
VII Cygnus X1 (the god of balance in Hemespheres) A. About going into the abyss/ether/eternal in a graphic Galactic way. B. The message is that we will ecliplse this body through the great unknown. BTW Cygnus is a real Black hole discovered in the 70's, debated by Steven Hawkin that it wasent a black hole and he placed a bet on it thinking it was an object of some sort. He paid up in 1990. It was only then proven a black hole in the 90's. Neil knew in 77 when he wrote it. Wha? Ummmmm, yes. I dare you to look it up in Wickapedia. Then look up the date of Cynus X1...Any takers yet?
VII Hemespheres A. Honestly by now it should be completley obvious the whole song. You just now have to make the jump to its really real. Investigate.... B. If you must know, basically man becomming 1 (a perfect sphere). Ya catchen this yet? Im giving you the key people to Leanardo, Picaso (sacred geometry), Jesus, Fraud, Pink Floyd, all religions, whats going to happen in 4 years...yes.
IX Closer to the heart Everyone has thier place. We all must do our part. do mine>
still laughing? As Neil says, we'll see whos laughing last. -Best I can, fly by night.
X A Farewell to Kings A. The Illuminati are "beating down the mutitudes, scoffing at the wise" (me, neil, alot of people) B. We need to get "closer to the heart"
XI La Villa Strangato
Finally made it to the song w/ no lyrics! It does have a clear meaning though. Look at the number in the Paper (oh ya, and set list). Oh crap! Its XI. come on....As in Cygnus X-1. OMG Yes. Remember Cygnus was explained clarly as shredding the body, and becommming one with the universe/Galaxy/Infinate. If you look at the progression up to this point in the paper/setlist, you'll notice that it is anwsering the question, what happens after we take care of the kings (bloody revolt against Bush), well, heres your anwser. And just to prove it, its liteerally maked XI (the 11th song in the setlist) (cygnus). Anyone shaking thier head in disbelief yet? If you get this, you should be pretty freaked @ this point.
XII 2112 Do I need to say anything? Tough! Not going to happen, all you have to do now is listen.
Note on the following song after 2112, "The Twilight Zone" (not in 78 set list). You have the key now, go unlock the door kid (Twilight Zone, 1st song 2nd side immediatlly proceeding 2112.) Common....He's saying welcome to our little secret we both now understand, and you're going down the biggest, craziest rabbit hole you have ever been down in any lifetime ever, PERIOD. Can anybody see any way this could not be as I say? You're crazier than I am then. So then you may ask, how can we achieve this task of evolution/ Revolution for real?
XII Bastille Day
A. Again, like everything, a real episode in history. The French Revolution. He's saying Revolt when the time is right, and don't stick you're head in the sand around...this very time and moment your reading this. If this is all new to you, I challenge you to think of anything remotely close that fits absolutly everything he writes...And hes presented it in thesis form in chronological order live to the masses - I love Rush. Period. I cried when I got all this. It hit me hard. I don't care if you laugh, its what alot of people believe including myself. So, how do we win the Revolution?
XIV. Working Man
A. Thats right, the everyday working class joe. (Tom Saywer, Digital man,etc...) Thats how we get it done, through good ole hard work (like what Im doing right now). So how can the everyday man achieve this?
XV In the Mood
A. Thats right, get in the right frame of mind, clear those chakras, quit smoking (I did emmediatly, no kidding, I feel great)and most importantly, find your soul mate. Or...Your other half. It will help in the transition according to basiicaly everyone that talkis about these things. Makes sense though, literally become 1. Also solves that little problem of duality (ever wonder what the mona lisa is? Leanardo as a man and woman, a perfect sphere of humanity) thats what its about and thats why hes laughing right at you! Who knows whats really going to happen when DNA mutates (look it up, its occuring to all sea life right this very second). mutations all over the globe.
XV Drum Solo (conclusion)
A. Its signifigant to note that there are no words (sybolic of the comming age). As far as I know, there has never been a drum solo to close a show other than this tour. Just pure rythem (and light), where were going. Its kick ass and powereful and perfect...Just like a Neil Peart drum solo.
If you are still unable to see this, your just in denial. Seriously. If you do see it, you'll be suprised at everything that will now relate directly. All Art, Music, and Science point directly to this time and this classic struggle. Its just alot more real than people realize. If I have helped just one person see the light (Photon), this has been well worth it. Don't cover your eyes to the obvious people, like Neil says "ya got nothin to fear but fear itself". Wake up now....Its beautiful when you do, you will bloom like a rose my friend w/ no fear what-so-ever. I promise. Just the opposite of controlling religions. Freedom VS Control. Good VS Evil The Bigest event in all of human history. The Revolution will not be televised people. Sincerly. Scott
Witless from Pdx, Or"We spent more time recording 'Strangiato' than the entire Fly By Night album. It's recorded in one take but it took 40 takes to get it right!" --Geddy Lee
Eric from Gresham, OrQuite contrary to the comment by Kevin from Austin, this song took over 40 times to record! Mostly due to the extraorinarily complex part that Alex was playing.
John from Asheville, NcWell, can hardly add much here. Their best instrumental, although YYZ is brilliant...if more brief. However, this is a masterwork musically....featuring my favorite ever Lifeson solo.
Dale from Santa Fe, NmThe best rock song ever.
Lyle from Fredericksburg, VaI just listened to a cover of this by Steve Morse on his "Prime cuts" album. I had to check real close to see if it wasn't actually Rush playing on the album. Great cover, EXTREMELY true to the original!
Brad from Toronto, CanadaIn reference to this song being one of the few where Neil Peart earns some of the writing credit for music (as opposed to lyrics), he explained it quite succintinctly in an interview by saying "You can either agree to split the song writing equally or you can argue about it. There is no third option."
Nika from Portland, OrHey Mike from MT,WA ....2004 world tour in celebration of their 30th anniversary "R30" at the MGM in Las Vegas, Alex losted his thoughts about pirates when a gal went topless and fling a bra up stage, he mention the important basic essential on "Breast" so pirates are not always used lol
Cary from Roanoke, VaI LOVE this song! My stepdad [who I must say that I don't like very much] his favorite band is Rush and I started listening to his Rush cds and was amazed...they are an incredible band! SO talented! I never get tired of this song. Rush is awesome.
Oh, my stepdad has a band too. They're great people and very talented too. yeah...this is my first comment...I'm new. haha. :]
Bryan from Pittsburgh, PaLa Villa Strangiatta(I forget which language) means, "A lesson in self indulgence" which is appropiate because the group indulges themselves in music and Rock
Jim from Toledo, Ohi just realized that the opening riff by alex on the nylon string is almost note for note on the beatles' Continuing story of bungalow bill opening sequence.
T.j. from Pittsburgh, Pa"La Villa Strangiato" is one of my favorite RUSH songs. I have been a RUSH fan every since I heard "Fly By Night" in 1975 (which was the first album Neil Peart appeared). I finally "mastered" the drum part in 1984. What a joy it was for me! i still play drums to that song every once in a while listening to it through my headphones. RUSH ROCKS!
Greg from Oakville, CanadaIt is a real place in Italy. In fact, the name of the title translated is, "The Strange Village"
Greg from Oakville, CanadaThis is Geddy Lee's best bass song he has ever written in my opinion because he has the most incredible solos in this song. I love this song mostly because it rocks everyones socks when they hear it for the first time, and it is a really fun song to play on my bass!
Dee from Indianapolis, InWhat a great instrumental by these guys. "Exit Stage Left" was my introduction to Rush so I have a foundness for all the songs off that perfectly done album. You could take away the lyrics of alot of their songs and the music would speak for itself. This has to be one of the greatest bands to grace our ears. To bad more individuals don't realize the talent and capacity of these three men from the Great White North.
Michael from Kearny, NjLerxst is Alex Lifeson's nickname, possibly tied to his name in Hungarian or Polish (I believe he is a bit of each). So the "Lerxst in Wonderland" is none other than Alex, having a dream (he wrote the majority of this song). His guitar playing is phenomonal on the Hemispheres album.
David from Keswick, CanadaThe drums and song title remind me of Steve Miller's SwingTown... Check out the rhythym... you'll here it.
Mike from Dumfries, VaI've been to all but the Signals tours since attending my first Rush concert which was the Moving Pictures tour in 1980 or 81 but I can't remember the exact year.
As for Alex singing during La Villa Strangiato.
Alex Leifson and the supposed "alternate" lyrics that are mentioned on "Exit Stage Left" and his singing during recent concerts during the playing of La Villa Strangiato is a joke the band has had fun with over the years and the "Singing" joke has played by the ultimate jokester in the group, Alex.
What makes Rush such a great band is not only their musical prowess, but their ability to laugh at themselves and have fun doing something they obviously love so much.
Alex has had many incarnations while making fun of or having fun with playing "La Villa" over the decades. I have seen him mime lyrics. Mumble non-sensical mumbo jumbo. He once introduced the band members with crazy names to include saying he was Fabio. The latest joke was the Jazz incarnation during the Feedback tour. I found one of the funniest bits was on the Live CD/Video after I think it was the Hold Your Fire tour that they had a "Parental Warning" that the lyrics were censored while you saw what appeared to be Alex singing lyrics that you couldn't hear on the CD/Video. For those who aren't long time fans they wouldn't have gotten the joke that there are no lyrics to the song.
As for the above that the song has many stories. All of them are jokes, too. Even if places such as Danforth & Pape are real places, it's all a joke really.
Nevertheless, the song is great and I never tire of hearing it live or on my cd or when breaking out the old vinyl album. That's one of those big black "CD's" for those of you under 20 that think CD's have been around forever.
Michael from Kearny, NjDespite what was mentioned by a fan below, the song was not recorded in one take. The song was actually recorded in segments and spliced together during the mix. The song was recorded on Analog tape (1978), and if you have a decent stero and listen closely, you can hear where the splices occur. Also, as mentioned by Mike from Mt Lake, WA, they intentionally used a riff from the song "Powerhouse", which had been featured in many Bugs Bunny" cartoons (a personal favorite of Alex Lifeson).
Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonAlex has referred to this as "an exercise in self-indulgence"
I saw Rush on 07/02/04 in the White River Amphitheatre, Alex did a rant - "We are the pirates of the Temple of Syrinx, Arrrrr" during the "2112 medley". For his rant, he started off with a series of strange chords then slipped back into the old pirate voice, and talked about being an old pirate, how his peg leg is bothering him and about the things pirates say like "shiver me timbers, avast ye swabbie and blow me (with a pause) down." He then sang a song called "The Pirate Blues".
Jeff from Haltom City, TxI saw Rush in concert on 6/23/04, on their 'Feedback' tour, and this song sounded better than ever. The only problem was that the acoustics in the Smirnoff Hall made Alex's monologue incomprehensible. I think Alex mentioned the local baseball team. Oh well, at least everyone could hear Geddy's voice when he sang.
Joe from Miami, FlOne of Neil's best creations on drums. The song includes some very difficult - and precise - coordinations between the left foot on the hi-hat and the right foot on the base drum, as well as Neil's "standard" jazz-fusion type rhythms on the ride cymbal bell (also used in YYZ and The Spirit of Radio) and some excellent tom-tom work. I felt great just keeping up with all of it on my own drum kit; what it must feel like to have invented it!
Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis instrumental starts off with a low-volume acoustic guitar riff, but then quickly changes to a joyously dreamy, synth-esque format not unlike ambient techno. The electric guitar riffs explode onto the scene after about three minutes, but after they die down the tone of the song completely changes. The first few minutes having been comprised of a joyful, uplifting tune, the tone of the song then changes to reflect a more angry, sniping edge. The first time I listened to this, I checked the tracklisting (on the "Chronicles" compilation album that Rush released in 1990) to make sure it was the same track!
Mike from Mountlake Terrace, Washington"Weird City" is a rough translation of the title. "La villa, be it Spanish or Italian, doesn't mean a village or a city, but rather a HOUSE. Strangiato is probably just pidgin Spanish, a made-up word."
The first part of "La Villa Strangiato," "Buenos Nochas, Mein Froinds!," is based on the German song "Gute Nacht, Freunde," written by A. Yondrascheck.
Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonDanforth and Pape is an intersection in Toronto. Actually, it's Danforth Ave. and Pape St. This is a heavily Greek section of Toronto, and even the street names are written in English and Greek.
Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonAlex Lifeson (Guitar magazine, 1984): "I always enjoy playing that solo. I like the changes and it's a very emotive bluesy kind of solo. It too stays basically the same every night. The band is in the background modulating between two notes and it gives me a chance to wail."
Shane from San Diego, CaAlex said in a guitar magazine interview (1982?) that after they recorded this song he was sure that he would never be able to play it again, but now can play it while watching TV. (Having seen them play it live about 6 times now, he certainly does a fine job of it!)
Mike from Emmaus, PaVT tour, Alex did the nonsensical blabber during this song,changing it up every city.They turned it into a jazz piece,sounded cool.
Jeff from Haltom City, TxI did not know that one, Kevin! Perhaps you should submit it as a Songfact.
Kevin from Austin, Txthis song was also done on one take!
Jeff from Haltom City, TxThis is my personal favourite of all of Rush's songs, too.