20. "Xanadu," A Farewell To Kings (1977)
Eleven minutes of Rush grandeur, starting with resonant bells and chirping birds, weird synthesizer-enhanced guitar chords and sophisticated drumming. You can practically see the stage smoke and lasers when you listen to this one. Then, for the kids who paid attention in class, a deep dive into Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I love Rush so much.
19. "Animate," Counterparts (1993)
In 1993 Rush ditched the last remnants of synth-heavy New Wave and fully embraced Hard Modern Rock. Counterparts was their heaviest album up until that point and kicks off with this outstanding track. The low, thrumming bass and Peart going to town on that ride cymbal make for a nice pairing. This isn't just a great Rush song, it's a great rock song.
18. "Between the Wheels," Grace Under Pressure (1984)
Grace Under Pressure closes out with another Police-inspired groove (the riff is basically "Spirits in the Material World" before a counter-melody kicks in), but with a much darker edge than that British band could muster. Quite frankly you listen to Alex Lifeson shred and you wonder why The Police never hired a guitar player. Everything snaps together perfectly here.
17. "The Trees," Hemispheres (1978)
A friend of mine who ribs me about Rush loves this song. Well, he loves to get it wrong. "How the sequoiaaaaaas marched in triumph!!!!!!" he shrieks in his mock Geddy Lee. Sigh. He'll never get it. The lyrics (which, no, are not Fascist, they merely explain how true Communism will always be in conflict with man's Will to Power) are humiliating; they are like being caught reading comics on the bus. In sweat pants. But "The Trees" still rips. Rush fans love it, and if you can't handle "The Trees" then get off our message board.
16. "Bravado," Roll the Bones (1991)
There are a great many Rush power ballads and many of them have a similar sonic texture. Technically, "Bravado" isn't that different from a lot of songs on albums like Hold Your Fire or Counterparts. And yet, for some reason, this one just kills me. Kills me! It's a song about going out swinging, and Peart's lyrics are touching and clear. "If love remains/Though everything is lost/We will pay the price/But we will not count the cost." That's heavy shit! Now, it's possible that I am over-ranking this tune because of when Roll The Bones came out in my life (e.g., when I really needed it, man) but this song, which others might consider totally forgettable, is really special to me. So I'm placing it in the top 20, even above "The Trees," and if you don't like it you can do your own epic Rush ranking. (Just clear your schedule, because this takes forever.)
15. "New World Man," Signals (1982)
This is the most insidious earworm on Signals, and it turns out that it was a last-minute addition to make sure the two sides of the cassette would be even. The cassette! But it's got outstanding bass fills and lines like "he's noble enough to know what's right/but weak enough not to choose it/he's wise enough to win the world/but fool enough to lose it" are pure Peart poetry.
14. "Red Sector A," Grace Under Pressure (1984)
Perhaps the most serious song in the Rush catalogue, "Red Sector A" is loosely inspired by Geddy Lee's parents' experiences at Auschwitz. Nazi atrocities are not typical fodder for synthesizer-enhanced rock songs, but Rush, as is surely evident by now, is no ordinary band. They meant it as a tribute and it works. It's a staggeringly good song.
13. "In the End," Fly by Night (1975)
The second-best song on the second (but first real) Rush album stretches close to seven minutes and is extremely ambitious. It starts quiet, gets loud, keeps a pocket groove with great flange guitar, and has more "wooooOOOOOhhhh!"s and "ooooOOOOOOohhh"s! per capita than most Rush songs. I have no clue what it's doing lyrically, but I always interpreted it as being about maintaining dignity while getting mocked, something a lot of Rush fans need to do.
12. "Countdown," Signals (1982)
Rush was a bit in the spotlight in 1982 after the success of Moving Pictures, and they closed out their follow-up in the most #onbrand way possible: with a love song dedicated to Space Shuttle Columbia. (The band was allowed in the VIP section during the launch.) Actual NASA chatter is sampled into the mix and the early 80s synth means something here, man. In 1982 we were finally in the future, "technology -- high, on the leading edge of life!" This is wonderment and triumph for everyone who likes doing math homework. Seriously, I love Rush so much.
11. "The Spirit of Radio," Permanent Waves (1980)
Rush firing on all cylinders. Great flangy hook, killer riff, a drum beat that demands you wave your arms around like an idiot on while you listen on headphones right there on the bus. Like Boston's "More Than a Feeling," this is a side one, track one song about how great great songs can be! Great! No surprise this was and still is a radio hit.