The Spirit of Radio (4:59)

Cover of Permanent Waves

From Permanent Waves and 180 other releases

“The Spirit of Radio” is a song released in 1980 by Canadian rock band Rush from their album Permanent Waves. The song’s name was inspired by Toronto radio station CFNY’s. The song was significant in the growing popularity of the band. The band had grazed the UK Top 40 two years earlier with “Closer to the Heart”, but when issued as a single in March 1980, “The Spirit of Radio” became their breakthrough hit at the time, and soon reached number 13 on the UK singles chart. “The Spirit of Radio” was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Rush’s only such entry.

UK Band St. Etienne sampled the opening riff on “Conchita Martinez”, a track on their 1993 album, So Tough

The song’s familiar synthesizer hook during the breaks was programmed using the Oberheim OB1 synthesizer. Today, the part is achieved through MIDI pedals.

The final lines of the song (“For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall…/Concert hall/And echoes with the sounds of salesmen”) are an allusion to the famous final lyrics from the Simon and Garfunkel classic “The Sound of Silence”: “…the words of the prophets/Are written on the subway walls/And tenement halls/And whispered in the sounds of silence.”

On performances during the 1981 tour, the line “one likes to believe in the freedom of music” was changed to “one likes to believe in the freedom of baseball” as a commentary on the 1981 Major League Baseball Players Association strike. Geddy Lee still occasionally drops this change into the song when performing live.

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Begin the day with a friendly voice
A companion, unobtrusive
Plays the song that's so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics

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  • YoQueSe666

    Tight and radio-ready, this track sees the band letting their creative juices flow as much as ever. Filled with stadium-pleasing guitar riffs, “The Spirit of Radio” is notable for abruptly switching from some heavy rocking to some reggae chill-out and then back. While the album version charted with the top 60 of the Billboard Hot 100, a live version later hit the top forty of the Mainstream Rock Charts. -- watchmojo

    21 Jun 2:00am Reply
  • anta40

    One of Rush's most mood-uplifting songs. "Endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity" -> I think this line is still very true, given the current situation of music industry.

    31 May 4:25pm Reply
  • jrs1991

    @niQboy: The police

    9 May 5:13pm Reply
  • radio_face

    RADIO! Of course.

    24 Mar 2:09pm Reply
  • CanIUseThis

    Echoes with the sound of salesmen. OF SALESMEN!

    26 Jan 8:00am Reply
  • connorbrown1410

    glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity

    21 Jan 5:47pm Reply
  • rikrijean

    thanks Joe....

    9 Dec 2013 Reply
  • headgear56

    Can always count on Spirit of Radio to pick one up out of a bad mood.

    18 Oct 2013 Reply
  • shellbyrne

    lyrics + music = perfect song about songs

    1 Oct 2013 Reply
  • DodgerKnight

    Kick'n a$$

    27 Sep 2013 Reply
  • NickWire77

    Vitamin R

    17 Sep 2013 Reply
  • ButchGantenbein

    need more rush

    14 Aug 2013 Reply
  • niQboy

    Only Rush can mix reggae with rock and make it work.

    25 Jul 2013 Reply
  • Tom_Pullings

    still love after all these years!

    23 Jul 2013 Reply
  • BMWPRETTY

    Spank! Whoooooooo! This is Rock this is Roll! :-)

    20 Jul 2013 Reply
  • g8torgirl

    Turn it up!!!

    5 Jul 2013 Reply
  • venicechance

    It's amazing that they manage to pack everything into less than five minutes!

    3 Jul 2013 Reply
  • wb7777

    Neal Peart...play the drum solo of life!!!

    27 Jun 2013 Reply
  • Eliallday

    love this songs

    13 Jun 2013 Reply
  • Eliallday

    them Fates Warning, Queensryche, asia, yes, Focus, Gtr perfect

    5 Jun 2013 Reply
  • All 359 shouts

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