Red Tide
by Rush

Album: Presto (1989)
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Songfacts®:

  • Neil Peart (from "Rush Profiled!"): "It's a bit of a selfish concern, really. I really love wildlife, and I spend a lot of my time in the outdoors when I'm not working, so that's important to me. One of my main hobbies is cycling, so air quality kind of becomes of critical importance. So it is a selfish thing, and it's something I've written about before, on the previous album - the song 'Second Nature'. So, again, you want to say things in a way that is not only not preachy, but also not boring. So finding the images like 'Second Nature' - I was really fond of that analogy of saying 'we want our homes to be a second nature', you know. That was, again, taking a common phrase and being able to twist it to say what you want it to say. So, with 'Red Tide' it was a little more adamant, because I think the time is a little more critical, and I had to be firmer about it, but still there are ways of getting at it, and to me there are jokes in there, too, that probably no one in the world will ever get, but in the first verse, when I'm talking about 'Nature's new plague' and then 'Lovers pausing at the bedroom door to find an open store' and all that, to me that was obviously referring to AIDS, but it was the irony of modern life, you know, where spontaneous love still certainly does occur, but here are two lovers who have just met in the middle of the night, and they have to go find a store before they can consummate their new relationship, you know, and to me, when I put those things down, I have a smile, but I know that it's one that will never be shared."
  • Alex Lifeson (Guitar World, March 1990): "I wanted to get a lot of tension in that solo because the song is quite intense. There's a kind of disturbing feeling about that solo, which I think ties it all together well. The song is angry. Neil is basically a very ecology-minded person, and he wrote this song dealing with the destruction of our environment. So I wanted the music, and especially my solo, to reflect that anger."
  • The last few lines of this song:

    Let us not go gently To the endless winter night
    Now's the time to make the time
    While hope is still in sight
    Let us not go gently To the endless winter night


    resemble parts of the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, which begins:

    Do not go gentle into that good night
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light
    >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 3

Comments: 3

  • Ben from Phoenix, AzHaha wow. First time I had ever read all the lyrics at once, written down. Never knew it was environmental until now. Every time I heard it before, always thought it (as well as Red Lenses) was about communism. "This is not a false alarm. This is not a test." "Let us not go gently to that endless winter night."
  • John from Asheville, NcI think the lyrics exceed the music and melody here. Good song from a good album.
  • Brian from Meriden, CtOne of the things I really enjoy about Neil's brilliant lyricism are the subtleties. I can go back and put on a Rush album 2 or 3 decades old and pick up new subtleties I never "got" before. And with a slightly altered sense of the song I am further stimulated to explore its meaning with each adroit turn of the phrase. Well done, O Baterista.
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