Freewill (5:24)

Cover of Permanent Waves

From Permanent Waves and 78 other releases

“Freewill” (Sometimes written as “Free Will”) is the second track on progressive rock band Rush’s 1980 album Permanent Waves. It is written by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson with lyrics by Neil Peart. This is a good example of Rush’s progressive experimentation due to the song’s use of strange time signatures not common in popular music. The time signature alternates 6/4, 7/4, 6/4, 7/4, 6/4, 8/4 and repeats during the first verse. The chorus and bridge are in 4/4. And when the verse re-enters it alternates 4/4, 4/4, 4/4, 3/4, and repeats multiple times. Despite these time signature changes, this song remains one of Rush’s most well known and popular songs to date.

The song’s lyrics deal with the subject of free will, emphasizing that free will is not a gift but rather a choice. He explains that man can attempt to evade the fact that he must choose, but that evasion is itself a choice. Failing to think for himself, man is left with only the sad option of following a “celestial voice” or “kindness that can kill,” referring to religion and socialism, respectively.

The pervasive criticism of religion and warnings against other substitutes for self-determination in the lyrics of “Freewill” closely parallel the theme of individualism found in Rush’s other songs. In “Tom Sawyer,” Peart states that the character’s “mind is not for rent/to any god or government,” again referring to religion and socialism as incompatible with independent thought and action.


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There are those who think
That life has nothing left to chance
A host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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  • UnleashTheW0lvz

    free will is an illusion, just like the ego. still a great song!

    21 Mar 12:39pm Reply
  • lukasz_pulawski

    Classic Rush!

    28 Jan 9:46pm Reply
  • spaceace60

    I love RUSH but this was one of the last albums from them i bought actually moving pictures was and was the last real rush album imo! though i saw both tours 80/81(excellent of course!)

    26 Nov 2014 Reply
  • YoQueSe666

    Full of the high bow lyrics and hard driving soundscapes Rush is known for, this rocker debuted live in 1979 and it has remained a fan favorite ever since. While its parent album saw the trio move towards more radio-ready songs, “Freewill” proved they were still musically innovative. At just over 5 minutes, it’s filled with Geddy Lee’s trebly bass lines, Neil Peart’s complex drum fills, and a shredding guitar solo from Alex Lifeson that could give Eddie Van Halen a run for his money. -- watchmojo

    21 Jun 2014 Reply
  • ricz_dm

    Awesome solo, indeed

    9 Feb 2014 Reply
  • The_Guitar_Zero

    Da best Alex LIfeson guitar solo.

    9 Jan 2014 Reply
  • jpzitoleopold

    the best bassline ever

    24 Nov 2013 Reply
  • Omby

    @licoricepizza: bahahahahahahahahaha couldn't agree more!!!!!

    29 Oct 2013 Reply
  • licoricepizza

    Yes, thank you Canada (for Rush)! And DAMN YOU TO HELL (for Justin Bieber)!

    27 Oct 2013 Reply
  • sailsofcharon

    I will choose Free Will.

    2 Oct 2013 Reply
  • jpeiper

    Good point outlaw.

    23 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Eliallday


    26 Jun 2013 Reply
  • an_outlaw

    Love what this song stands for. You got one shot at life and it is fully up to you whether you get it right.

    16 May 2013 Reply
  • nicolasbj

    the word is: brilliant !

    5 May 2013 Reply
  • LunaLunchen

    One of the best songs themes ever...

    25 Feb 2013 Reply
  • thomas2112

    geddy lee....... the BEST bassist EVER!! a symphony of sound from only 3 men. luv ya 4ever guys!!!!!!!!!!!

    14 Feb 2013 Reply
  • mdg9813

    Rush!!! Incredible guitar work!

    27 Jan 2013 Reply
  • Fant0mas_

    from Permanent Waves AND 79 OTHER ALBUMS. lulz :P Now 80 other albums... :P

    4 Oct 2012 Reply
  • angussporran

    from Permanent Waves AND 79 OTHER ALBUMS. lulz :P

    12 Sep 2012 Reply
  • Stormwatch1986

    truly rock legends

    15 Jul 2012 Reply
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