by Rush

Album: A Farewell to Kings (1977)
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  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song is based on an unfinished poem called Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who started writing it while under the influence of drugs. Once the effects of the drugs wore off, he was unable to complete it. Rush have never been known to use illegal substances, however.
  • This features one of the longest instrumental intros ever recorded. The total time of the song is 11:06, and slightly more than half of this time is used in the intro before any lyrics come in. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeff - Haltom City, TX, for above 2
  • In Coleridge's poem, Xanadu is the fictional name of the land where Khubla Khan ordered the dome to be built: "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree." Coleridge goes on to describe the dome as a "Miracle of rare device, a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice." The notion of the "Man from Porlock" is a famous yet unsubstantiated tale offered by Coleridge himself to explain why his poem is unfinished. Many in the literary world believe the tale to be a fabricated explanation. There was even a poem written by a contemporary of Coleridge titled The Man From Porlock which refutes the incident. No one will ever know the truth about the visitor who supposedly interrupted Coleridge's inspiration during his crafting of one of the greatest unrevised first drafts in history.
  • The legend of Xanadu is related to a number of myths and legends going back to the prehistory of Asia (and in fact through out the Americas) specifically that of Shamballa. There was a movement in the time of Coleridge to explore these legends, in doing so we are tapping into the universal consciousness, an ability that the members of Rush seem to be quite adept. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Harry - Lompoc, CA
  • The video shows Geddy Lee playing a double neck guitar, with the top portion being a bass and the bottom being a regular 6-string electric guitar. He plays the bottom portion during the very end of the song, which is also seen during the video. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Matthew Daubert - Mequon, WI
  • Geddy Lee played rhythm guitar on this song.
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Comments: 32

  • Tnutz Miller from Waukesha Wi. Wil from Milwaukee, you probably know this by now 70's version is on our R30 DVD. Disc 2 vault 2. Man all I wanted to know if Geddy was playing a double bass, but no it's a bass with a electric guitar! Most talented people in the world. Unbelievable!
  • Andrew from Duvall, WaThe best version of this song, in my humble opinion, resides on the Exit Stage Left video release, which is a different recording than the LP. Alex Lifeson's solo and guitar work in general in this version are incredible, there are also some extra drum flourishes thrown in and it pretty much seems like the band was "feeling it" that night.
  • Rufus from Wheeling, WvOff topic, but there are at least two rock songs based on Coleridge works; Xanadu, and Iron Maiden's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • Austin from Glendale, AzTo those talking about Octavarium:
    it's pretty good, and I feel that Dream Theater's pretty good, even though some of their later stuff has been kinda weak. If you want to try listening to them, you're probably safe with anything pre 2005. the octavarium album is where it started to get sketchy, but there is still some good music on it.
  • Joe from Manchester, Njthis song is actually tuned up half a step, if you turn the volume up really high (i certainly have) you can hear that very first synth note is a E#, or some people say that it was sped up a little after recording and by doing that it raised the pitch of an E to E#. but either way if you plan on covering this awesome song on guitar you will have to tune your guitar up half a step or your guitar will sound out of tune
  • Daniel from Monterrey, Mexicothe most impressive thing about this song, at least to my opinion, is how geddy lee manages to sing with all his heart, play the rythm guitar, the pedal synth, and keep in tempo.
  • Clay from Gonzales, TxThis is one of my favorites.
    I love this song live!
    You all should hear this song on Exit Stage Left
  • Olivier from Alma, QcThis is a song where all fits. Drum, bass and guitar are perfectly pulled together. The best part for me is 3:36 to 4:25. So strong, the bass and the guitar are so awesome.

    Im in love :P
  • Michael from Oxford, EnglandHaven't heard Octavarium; HAVE heard bad things about Dream Theater as a band.
  • Trey from Kalamazoo, MtYou know what song has a long intro? Octavarium by Dream-Theateer
  • Michael from Oxford, -Best Rush song ever, hands down. But it's not true that slightly more than half the time is spent on the intro. I've got the song paused at the exact moment where the lyrics begin, and the iTunes display shows that 4:59 has elapsed, with 6:08 remaining.

    By the way, "Cygnus X-1" from the same album has an even longer intro (5:01, with 5:20 remaining afterwards). Unless you count the actual song as beginning where the bass guitar comes in at 1:24, after the weird sound effects and spoken monologue. In which case, the intro to that song clocks in at 3:37.

    Here's some other examples:

    "The Gates of Delirium" - Yes. From the album Relayer. OK, so the lyrics to that one start at 2:11, but the good bit doesn't come until about 16 minutes into the song, with the famous lyric "soon, oh soon..." coming in at 17:07.

    "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" - Pink Floyd. Somebody's already mentioned that one, I think - the lyrics come in at 8:42.

    "Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)" - Elton John. My favourite Elton John song - nothing else even comes close. And he doesn't even play any piano until 1:42. Now here's a bona fide example of an intro lasting more than half the song's length: the lyrics start at 5:51, with 5:17 remaining. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart... eat your collective heart out.
  • Kevin from New York, Ndrush is great xanadu is 1 of there best songs the guitar is great and geddys vocals give me the chills as well as the keyboards

  • Logan from Flagstaff, AzAn essay written by Jorge Luis Borges said that the idea to build Xanadu came to Kubla Khan in a dream. He goes on to say that another (presumably Coleridge) had a similar dream and wrote a poem about Xanadu and that still, centuries from Borges time, another person will have the dream and put it into "marble or MUSIC" and the pattern of dreams would continue on forever. I don't know if anyone from Rush ever read the essay but I found the coincidence pretty cool.
  • John from Asheville, NcEasily one of my favorite Rush tunes ever and definitely their best 8-minute-plus song. I really think the band turned a corner with this tune...and with A Farewell To Kings. You can just hear a different, evolving dynamic happening. Extra time in the studio didn't hurt (LOL), but it's what they did with this time that really shows here.
  • Dale from Santa Fe, NmSpeaking of "A Passage to Bangkok," that and this song are (I think) the only two where Geddy plays the rhythm guitar. And the guitar work by Alex in this song is truly amazing. So are Geddy's vocals... Xan---a---duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
  • Daniel from London, United Kingdomdespite the fact the band (now at least) play the song in E the recording is actually in a higher key. Not F though so where in between... (in case your wondering not E# either :/ ) possibly it was digitally modulated in the studio?
  • Todd from St. Louis, Mowhen this album first came out, my high school friend would crank this song (on an "oldie" 33 & 1/3 record!) and in the intro, the birds chirping would drive his pet parakeet crazzzy!

    in college days, Xanadu was cause for many a blown speaker. in a dark room, the drivers in the speakers would glow from the arcing.
  • Kevin from Albany, OrThe Man From Porlock was in fact Dirk Gently. Douglas Adams wrote a whole book based around this poem.
  • Zach from Cadiz, KyI read in guitar world that this song was recorded in one take. alex lifeson is the most underated guitarist ever! RUSH FOREVER!!!
  • Adrian from Monterrey, MexicoThe main riff of this song has an odd time signature (7/8) like many Rush songs.. That's my favorite signature.
  • Kent Lyle from Cincinnati, OhOne of the few Rush songs where Peart was given credit for contributing to the music as well as the lyrics.
  • George from Manassas, Va"Rush have never been known to use illegal substances, however." are you joking have you ever read the lyrics to A Passage to Bangkok, do so and tell me that has no drug references.
  • John from Overland Park, KsI didn't really get into rock music until college, and that was when my best friend at the time introduced me to the music of Rush. I'd found that, once I heard some of the songs, I recognized them. This was one of them, and it convinced me to go out and buy "A Farewell To Kings," one of my first rock album purchases.
    P.S. I think the live version on "Exit, Stage Left" is even better.
  • Ben from Nyc, Msive always thought about peart in one way. normal drummers play fills. peart plays demolishing, earthshakeing, planet cracking fills
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Cathis is one of the best songs ever and for sure Rush's best song.
  • Wil from Milwaukee, WiI did see a production video of this song in early 1977 on "Don Kirschner's Rock Concert" that was very well done, at least by '70's standards. Has anyone seen it or know where a copy can be obtained?
  • Tom from Mendon, MaThe instrumental intro thing isnt very true because Shien On You Crazy Diamond by Pink FLoyd has an intro of 8:47 but his song is still awesome
  • Daniel from Cincinnatti, Ori like the woodblock solo
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InAnother great Rush song that defies the boundries of everyday music.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesRush have a knack of writing unrelated songs with the same name as inferior songs that later become a major hit in one part of the world or another - a pity this was too unlike Olivia Newton-John and ELO's 1980s No.1 of the same name to use on the soundtrack for the awful film 'The Legend of Xanadu' - it would have added some class to that otherwise unbearable production...
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonAccording to one source I read the reason Samuel Taylor Coleridge was unable to finish this poem is that he was interupted by a door to door insurance salesman and although he tried to rid himself of the saleman to return to his writing the salesman was so persistant and detained him for nearly an hour, when he returned to writing the poem the inspiration had vanished (another reason to abhor door to door salesmen )
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonThe name of the poem is KUBLA KHAN (or A vision of a dream, a fragment - and the text of the poem is -

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree : Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea.

    So twice five miles of fertile ground
    With walls and towers were girdled round :
    And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
    Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
    And here were forests ancient as the hills,
    Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
    But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
    Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
    A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
    As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
    By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
    And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,A mighty fountain momently was forced : Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
    Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
    Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
    And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
    It flung up momently the sacred river.
    Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
    Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
    Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
    And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
    And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war !

    The shadow of the dome of pleasure
    Floated midway on the waves ;
    Where was heard the mingled measure
    From the fountain and the caves.

    It was a miracle of rare device,
    A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw :
    It was an Abyssinian maid,
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight 'twould win me,

    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.
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