Subdivisions (5:33)

Cover of Signals

From Signals and 96 other releases

“Subdivisions” is a Rush song that describes peer pressure for teenage life in the suburbs.

“Subdivisions” was released on the 1982 album Signals. Aside from being a perennial fan favourite and a staple of live performances, the song appears on several greatest hits compilations, was released as a single in 1982, and despite doing little serious business in the UK charts, it gained a lot of radio airplay in Britain at the time. In the US, it charted at #8 on the Album/Mainstream rock charts. It was also played live prior to its release. Pre-release live versions exist on the internet. Geddy Lee plays an Oberheim OB-X synthesizer, and the two synthesizer solos were done on a Minimoog.

The promotional video scenes were filmed in the Toronto area. The downtown scenes were filmed in downtown Toronto, while the suburbs scenes were filmed in Scarborough, Ontario, near Warden and Finch Avenues. The high school scenes were filmed at L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute, in the same area. The video also features scenes of the Don Valley Parkway and a busy TTC subway station. The student that walks downtown in the video is Dave Glover, a student at the L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute at the time. Near the end of the video, Glover is seen playing the video game Tempest at an arcade, which was reportedly his favourite video game at the time.

The song features heavy use of synth. Geddy Lee takes a similar role to that in Countdown, the final track on Signals by playing a minimal amount of bass. The track begins in 7/8 time, Lee playing an pattern of F# notes on the Oberheim.


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Sprawling on the fringes of the city
Geometric order an insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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  • Z77

    The music video for this has one of my favorite arcade games in it on top of this being a great song.

    22 Jan 12:42am Reply
  • WhiskeyPony

    "Be cool or be cast out" I can definitely relate to this song, highschool was tough time for me and many others. [2]

    24 Sep 2014 Reply
  • alphaknave

    Probably the most difficult Rush drums.

    2 Sep 2014 Reply
  • YoQueSe666

    After years of dabbling and toiling in the background, synthesizers came to the forefront on this Signals single. As a result, the band's subsequent live shows would see Geddy take on triple duty more and more as he handled vocals, bass, and multiple keyboards. Dealing with Peart's less-than-enjoyable memories of suburban life, “Subdivisions” also features a rare vocal from the skin-man on the track's title line – though Lifeson’s the one singing it in the video and in concert. -- watchmojo

    21 Jun 2014 Reply
  • FearDeimos

    From North to South, from East to West, Rush is and remains the Best. RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH

    25 Apr 2014 Reply
  • Panecea

    Drawn like moths we drift into the city ........ ♥

    4 Nov 2013 Reply
  • corpsetastic


    27 Oct 2013 Reply
  • Drazba

    love this song--I would add something to the discussion on the use of keyboards by rush---the use of them in the context of a "hard rock" band was not unheard of--deep purple and others had used them for years-but to break form as rush did was something that their label rejected--hats off to rush for pushing their own musical boundries against the formumatic musical establishment

    20 Oct 2013 Reply
  • VerbalImaginary

    The drums don't sound all that difficult until you go to play it. Damn.

    27 Sep 2013 Reply
  • bytor54

    Just a f'n GREAT song from a GREAT album!!!

    19 Sep 2013 Reply
  • joecubbie

    I can't relate to this song tbh...but I still fucking love Rush FOREVER

    24 Aug 2013 Reply
  • niQboy

    "Be cool or be cast out" I can definitely relate to this song, highschool was tough time for me and many others.

    17 Jul 2013 Reply
  • greenvillepa


    4 Jul 2013 Reply
  • gonetobeach

    Be cool or be cast out.

    6 May 2013 Reply
  • TheAmazingKoopa

    Best Rush song

    1 May 2013 Reply
  • lukasz_pulawski

    one of their best pieces

    29 Apr 2013 Reply
  • bugamartini

    @IamFlood It's about why Rush decided to use the keyboards. They weren't used to conform, but to playfully experiment. All three of them explored new styles all the time. They weren't afraid to try something new even in the face of criticism. I recommend watching the movie "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage". Knowing their history, I find them to be one of the ballsiest nonconforming group. Mercury Records was threatening them that they were going to be cut from the label if they "didn't conform" and basically they said "screw that - we're doing our own thing or nothing at all". Also the usage of the keyboards was something very unique in Rock as previously they were being used for British synth pop. Rush took the keyboards to a brand new level. The combination of them with hard prog rock was brilliant and unique. No one before them had done something like that before. Rush is a band that simply does their own thing, in my opinion and of theirs too.

    22 Apr 2013 Reply
  • jpeiper

    Interesting and thoughtful shout bugamartini. We are fortunate to have music that stirs us so.

    1 Apr 2013 Reply
  • paradrome


    30 Mar 2013 Reply
  • MoonlitSea

    Favourite song.

    26 Mar 2013 Reply
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