Manhattan Project
by Rush

Album: Power Windows (1985)
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  • The Manhattan Project was the project that developed the first nuclear weapons, resulting in the bombs that were dropped on Japan, effectively ending World War II. The title is never mentioned in the lyric, but is filled with references to the nations racing to build the bomb and when it was finally dropped. The "Enola Gay," as mentioned near the end of the song, is the American plane that carried the bomb that fell on Hiroshima.
  • Rush is unusual in that their drummer, Neil Peart, writes their lyrics, which are interpreted by lead singer Geddy Lee. It took a while for them to get on the same page with this song. "I wanted the delivery to be like punctuation, and the chorus had to be more passionate and more rhythmically active," Peart told Bruce Pollock. "It was hard to express exactly how I wanted it. The first time we worked on the music, they had phrased the lyrics in a very slow manner and I had to protest. The phrasing of the line was two short lines and then a long line and two short lines and then a long line. There were internal rhymes and internal relationships among the words and within the delivery that had to remain intact for it to make sense at all. It was so carefully crafted that it couldn't be delivered any old way."
  • Geddy Lee explained to Guitar Player magazine, April 1986, "Sampling isn't perfect enough so that you can make it completely realistic - you still can't get the feel, because digital recording of a sound gives every note pretty well the same value, which you never do when you're playing a lick. On 'Manhattan Project,' Andy played sort of a fretless-sounding bass line on a Roland JP-8 keyboard synthesizer. It sounded great, so to do it live, we sampled that JP-8 sound into my Emulators. So it worked, but it didn't work at the same time. I use it live and it sounds okay, but every slide has exactly the same value, which you would never want. When you play a fretless part, you slide through some notes and pass through others at a different rate. You can't really do that with a stored sound, unless you have a complex sampling situation where you sample each note differently. So, it has its drawbacks, fortunately for us bass players."

Comments: 16

  • Boochster from MinnesotaEnola Gay dropped the first bomb, called the 'Fat Man' (uranium based) on Hiroshima. The second bomb (dropped on Nagasaki) was plutonium based, and dropped by the 'Bocks Car,' another B-29.
  • John Barry from FloridaGreat song, powerful lyrics and great drumming. Like Marathon, it kinda builds up the crescendo, then at some point releases the buildup and ends more or less the way it started.

    To Scott in Philadelphia: while it's true we were all lucky we acted first, you should be the one moving to some underdeveloped country. You don’t seem to understand democracy, under which we have the right to complain to make things better. Something I've seen in poor countries is that people are mostly driven by their governments, and complaining doesn't change anything, let alone make things better. America is better because we challenge our government – not because we don’t, for better or worse.

    On the other hand, Africa is too big a continent to simply brand it "AIDS ridden". Also, Mexico is not as poverty stricken as you think, and South America is not as drug laden as you think. You should get your facts straight, dude.
  • Drake from Huntington Beach, CaAlbum name just gave me a hint of what all songs mean. It's about all the destructive ideas that lead to trouble, locally and globally. This song is about what the title of it is, Manhattan Project, the American nuclear weapons program plan. It was during 1939, Germany and the other axis powers were growing out of control and the allies were worried about it. America was worried about Germany's scientists and their projects. Growning scared America decided to end that fear, by building the nuke. However, 1945 ended the Nazi rule and Imperial Japan was still a threat, so U.S. insisted to use it to end the conflict of WWII. Hiroshima got wasted as planned. Now to say another thing, it was planned by what ARF sayed below that it was planned by the Democrats, who were always wary to everyone's eyes. The scientists ( most of them ) not believing in religion, thought that they could try to act like God. Now that's evil for ya. Unpredictable, and intelligent they killed thousands, Rush was told by our governments thoughts and actions to write this song. Still, its good, one of Rush's greatest hits. Lots of imagery was included in this album, to bad people wouldn't want to listen to this and understand ideology in music.
  • Philip from Spokane, WaThis song got me very interested in the manhattah project and influenced me to do a lot of reading and research on nuclear physics and engineering. Eventually I went to visit the Hanford site a couple times where they developed the nuclear material for these bombs. as a result of all my intrigue, after I get my bachelor of science in mechanical engineering I'll be going to grad school for nuclear engineering since in my opinion it is the energy of the future. All thanks to one song by rush.
  • Dougee from San Bernardino, CaThis is an awesome and thought-provoking song. It's sobering to think that, prior to the invention of nuclear weaponry, mankind was incapable of annihilating itself on a global scale. Now, it is only a missile launch away. It's possible in theory to create a thermonuclear weapon of unlimited size - one that could potentially pulverize the earth or knock it out of orbit. It's only thanks to the restraint of a number of smart world leaders (and a bit of luck - Bay of Pigs, etc.) that we haven't erased ourselves from existence or doomed humanity to a bleak post-apocalyptic existence as depicted in "The Day After." However, we still owe a debt of gratitude to the scientists who risked (and lost) their lives discovering the properties of radioactivity, for there are many peacetime uses of atomic energy and radioactive substances. And, the deterrent effect of weapons stockpiles has likely saved millions of war-related deaths. All in all, a subject as heavy and complex as the uranium and plutonium used in the weapons.
  • Arf from Los Angeles, CaThe song also helped me deal with the death of my aunt six months after 9/11, after her exposure on that August day. Also, as for justifying the bombing?

    By Gary Schaefer
    Associated Press

    HIROSHIMA, Japan -- Near where the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima, the faces of the victims silently appear and fade on a wall of television monitors in a relentless display of the attack's human toll.

    Amid the thousands of faces, one stands apart: that of Cpl. John Long Jr., U.S. Army Air Force.
    Long, who died in the blast while being held by the Japanese, is the first American serviceman to be enshrined at a memorial here, throwing light on the little-known story of U.S. prisoners of war who perished at Hiroshima.

    P.S., Republicans, it was a Democratic leadership that inspired Neil Peart to write the song.
  • John from Asheville, NcPretty powerful song...both lyrically and vocally. It's a highpoint from Power Windows, an album that took a while but finally grew on me a bunch.
  • Matt from New Castle, NhI remember my science teacher once told us that scientists working on the Manhattan Project had a rather frightening theory about the atom bomb. It was that igniting one could potentially cause a chain reaction that would eventually cause every atom on Earth to explode. When they tested the first bombs they took a big chance. Good song, though. Rush writes a lot of tunes about WWII.
  • Tony from Toledo, OhThis song reminds me of my permanently interrupted grad school at Michigan State Univeristy. Some of my former profs even claimed to have worked on the Mahattan Project in
    WW II! Remarks like "all the brightest boys with the biggest toys" sure sounds like some of those doctors-like the $6 billion nuclear cyclotron that they were looking forward to using; but then it was cancelled forever!
    They reembered the name of the Enola Gay which dropped the frist atom bomb on Hiroshima.
    Remember a place where it all began. I used to hear some song like this on the FM radio in East Lansing, MI but I think it contained a countdown. And I looked desperately for that song at the record shops.
    That weapon that would settle the score. I guess the wisdom of Roosevelt and Truman opened the Pandora's box of nuclear war which will lead to Armageddon!
  • Mike from Indianapolis, InAll the powers that be
    And the course of history
    Will be changed forever more
    That says it all!

    There is a lot of powerful imagery in this song.
  • Chuck from Houston, TxI think as awesome at writing lyrics as Neil Peart is, there is a mistake in this song. One of the first lyrics used, in the third sentence "In the dying days of the war" well.... the Manhattan project didn't start during the "Dying" days, infact, they were out there, already set up and working in Los Alamos over a year before the allies invaded Euroup, as Sjoerd from Norway pointed out for us.
  • Scott from Philadelphia, PaTo the guy asking, "What does that say about our country?" That we were smart enough to act first! Otherwise we'd be speaking Japanese right now. Listen, dude- you don't like it here, there's hundreds- thousands of other countries just begging for you to come live with them! Go live in AIDS ridden Africa or poverty stricken Mexico, or war-torn Israel or Iraq, or drug laden South America. Then come back and complain about this country!
  • David from Flagstaff, AzI love this song, the chorus really gets me going. As for WIL's comment, I'll quote the song to him-"...the fools tried to wish it away...".
  • Wil from Milwaukee, Wi...and the US is still the ONLY country to have ever used nuclear weapons on other human beings...what does this say about the philosophy of America???
  • Sjoerd from Groningen, NorwayIn 1939, the Nazis were rumored to be developing an atomic bomb. The United States initiated its own program under the Army Corps of Engineers in June 1942. America needed to build an atomic weapon before Germany or Japan did. The program was called Manhattan Project.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, In"Power Windows" was my 1st cassette I ever bought. I was a huge Rush fan from getting hooked on "Exit Stage Left" when I was about 14, so when this album came out I had to have it. I was working at McDonalds and bought it at Musicland at our local mall. To me, this was Rush's last GREAT work. Don't get me wrong, I think Rush rocks still, but I'm a fan of the older stuff over all. I think this would be a great tune to play in history class when studying the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan during WWII.
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