Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neal Peart
Original Release: Signals
Definitive Version: None
At the end of my tumultuous freshman year at Wabash, I was presented with an excellent opportunity: I was invited to live off-campus with two would-be seniors.
Ed, one of the juniors, who had befriended me that year, had the scoop: Dr. Herzog, whom I knew from my first English class, was going on sabbatical for the whole year and wanted to rent his home to students. So Ed and Jim got in line and were looking for a third to further cut the rent.
That sounded better to me than another year in the dorms (and, as I mentioned, a lot less expensive, so my dad signed off, too). But because I was only a freshman, I needed special dispensation, because only juniors and seniors were allowed to live off-campus at Wabash. I can’t remember what I needed to do specifically, but I was given the OK.
The house was a brick ranch house a bit out in the country. It was part of a one-loop suburban-type development surrounding by corn fields—a real oasis, if you will. In fact, that fall, where Dr. Herzog had had a sandbox for his two sons—removed before our arrival—a few stalks of corn grew after they had been “planted” by some wayward bird.
As I noted, being the freshman, I got third choice of three bedrooms. Ed got the master bedroom; Jim took what was the smallest bedroom, but it had its own rolltop desk, so he could be self-contained if the mood struck.
My bedroom was at the end of the hall next to Jim’s and across from Ed’s. It was bigger than Jim’s room, but all I had in my room was a secretary desk, which I used for storage. The tradeoff was I got the awesome—and huge—rolltop desk that was Dr. Herzog’s in the formal living room.
Anyway, I had a double bed, maybe even a queen—I’m not sure. On one wall was a full-width sliding-door closet and the secretary desk was between the closet and a window at the front of the house. In the other corner was my dresser. The bed was against the wall opposite of the first window and I had another window opposite of the closet that looked out over the side yard and to the next house.
Under that window, I set up my milk-crate stereo shelves from wood procured from my dad’s basement and milk crates “borrowed” from Food World. I had the stereo on the ground between two milk crates and my albums lined up on the other side. On top of the long wood shelf were my textbooks.
I divided my albums so albums that were universally liked were kept in the recreation room with that stereo, and the albums I just listened to alone at night were in my bedroom.
I had Signals in my bedroom, and I played that album a lot that year. It had to have been among my top 10 in terms of plays—maybe top 5. I have a crystal clear vision of being in my bedroom with this song on during a gray, misty-rainy day.
It turns out that sophomore year was a huge year for many reasons, and I’ll certainly have more to say about it down the road.