Friday, October 16, 2009

Everybody need reverse polarity - Rush's "Vital Signs"

In a FriendFeed conversation about Jefferson Starship that continued this evening, Alex Scoble mentioned Rush. And he wasn't talking about the non-owner of an NFL team, but the band.

The mention triggered a memory of my favorite Rush song, a song that closed out the album "Moving Pictures." (Great album cover, by the way.)

Peter H. Donnelly took the time to record the lyrics to this song. Here is the chorus:

A tired mind become a shape-shifter
Everybody need a mood lifter
Everybody need reverse polarity
Everybody got mixed feelings
About the function and the form
Everybody got to deviate from the norm

When I first heard this in college, I assumed that Rush were parodying themselves. But that song has certainly engendered its share of discussion. Take this tweet:

'Everybody needs reverse polarity', sang Geddy Lee of Rush on Vital Signs. Sorry, not me.

But perhaps it's best to hear what Neil Peart said:

We had purposefully left one song still unwritten, with a view to writing it directly in the studio, as we have had such good results from this previously. Songs such as "Natural Science," and "The Twilight Zone" have benefitted from the pressure and spontaneity of this situation, although then it happened by force of circumstances, where now our planning includes a space for 'no-plan.'

"Vital Signs" was the ultimate result, eclectic in the extreme, it embraces a wide variety of stylistic influences, ranging from the sixties to the present. Lyrically, it derives from my response to the terminology of 'Technospeak,' the language of electronics and computers, which often seems to parallel the human machine, in the functions and interrelationships they employ. It is interesting, if irrelevant, to speculate as to whether we impose our nature on the machines that we build, or whether they are merely governed by the inscrutable laws of Nature as we. (Perhaps Murphy's Laws?) Never mind!

Oh dear...maybe they were serious. Or maybe Peart's just pulling our collective legs.

Remember Peter Donnelly? The reason that he posted the lyrics to the song was because he then proceeded to analyze said lyrics. Here's what he said about reverse polarity:

I agree with the next paragraph that everyone needs reverse polarity. Simple reverse polarity is sleep, entertainment, or relaxation for most people, but for very creative people it can mean connecting to the unconsciousness or the imagination, but which, like meditation, is still a knowable, explainable, and conscious method and process.

So...what do you think?

Or should I just go back to listening to Jefferson Starship?

(Picture source, license)
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