Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No. 856 – Farewell to Kings

Performer: Rush
Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neal Peart
Original Release: A Farewell to Kings
Year: 1977
Definitive Version: None

I’ve mocked Columbus radio as being the signal that rock radio had started its irreversible decline, but that doesn’t mean that there still weren’t things to be gained by tuning it in on occasion—and this song is evidence of that.

In 1997 to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Q-FM for a few weeks played an A-Z format. I’ve heard other stations since do an A-Z thing where they play all 1,200 songs in their catalog—the same songs you hear over and over anyway—but this was unique: Q-FM played albums.

Granted, it didn’t play every album in its catalog, and it certainly didn’t play the entire album, nor did it play it without commercial breaks. But it most certainly played stuff that it didn’t normally play and stuff that, for all I know, it hasn’t played since. For example, when was the last time you heard Xanadu by Rush on the radio? Exactly: 30 years ago, at least, if ever. Well, Q-FM played it, because one of the first albums on its list was A Farewell to Kings, which means, of course, that they kicked it off with this song.

I had never heard this song before. For various reasons, the mid-1970s Rush period was one I didn’t know very well, and I have a crystal clear vision of driving on I-670, which went pretty much straight from the front door of me and Debbie’s apartment to the front door of the Dispatch, with this song on.

I-670, which was built in the mid-80s to connect downtown and Port Columbus more directly, enters downtown in what one would call the back door of the city. There’s a huge spaghetti junction where I-670 and I-71 bysect, and right on the West side of I-71 is Fort Hayes, which was an Army Reserve base that also was used as a job-education center.

Anyway, what’s notable now is that somewhere nearby was the site of Neil Park, which was the first steel-and-concrete baseball stadium in the country—beating Forbes Field in Pittsburgh by 4 years. The Senators and Redbirds played there from 1905 to 1932.
I didn’t know that at the time I was being introduced to Farewell to Kings. What I did know was that I needed to better complete my knowledge of Rush. I bought this album, Hemispheres and Permanent Waves soon after that.

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