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The real station that inspired Rush’s Spirit of The Radio


The real station that inspired Rush’s Spirit of The Radio

“Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion, unobtrusive, plays that song that’s so elusive, and the magic music makes your morning mood”. If you are a big Rush fan you probably heard this phrase a thousand times because it is the intro of their hit “The Spirit of Radio”, featured on their 1980 album “Permanent Waves”.


Although the track is a tribute to every radio station in the world, it was actually inspired by a Canadian station called CFNY, which was formed in 1960 and still exists, now called “102.1 The Edge” and plays Alternative Rock.

In an interview with Prog magazine in 2013, Geddy Lee talked about that station and said: “CFNY reminded us of when FM radio first started in America and Canada,” Geddy says. “You’d have your favorite DJ and he had no playlist – he would just play music.”

“So he was turning you on to new music all the time. It was part of why we became musicians – it was that important. And this was a stark contrast to what was happening in 1980. (Which was) the beginning of consultants programming 50 radio stations across the country. That was kind of depressing to think of. So the song was a lament for a better time,” Geddy Lee said.

In 1980, “The Spirit of Radio” was also released as a single. It peaked at number 51 on the United States Billboard Hot 100. On the United Kingdom singles chart the track peaked at number 13.

How the riff of the Rush song “The Spirit of The Radio” was written

In a radio interview back in 2018, made available by Raised On Radio (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the Rush bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Geddy Lee recalled how the riff of the track was written and what was their idea for the song.

“The concept of the song itself was about the freedom of radio. But we created this synthesizer kind of pattern that was supposed to represent, you know, the corporate world (laughs). Alex (Lifeson) came up with this riff. He is very spontaneous. He just came out with this riff that was fighting against that kind of static metronomic synthesizer pattern.”

“The guitar part that Alex came up with, that riff really is supposed to be the ‘Spirit Of Radio’. It’s supposed to be the representational of the airwaves. It’s quite a soulful and a kind of emotive riff and it’s very insistent too. So it spoke well and we hung so much of the rest of the song around that riff,” The Rush frontman said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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