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Rush's Return to the Limelight

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What are some memories of the Moving Pictures sessions?

It was wintertime, and we were holed up in a small studio in Quebec. Really, that studio became our home for a few years, Le Studio, just outside of Montreal. A beautiful environment, and a great working relationship that we had with people at the studio, and our producer, Terry Brown. Got a lot of fond memories of making that record.

What about recording the song “Tom Sawyer”?

“Tom Sawyer” was in many ways the most difficult song to record on that record. I remember even though the writing of the song came together pretty quickly, putting it down on tape was a little difficult. We were trying different sounds, and going with a whole different approach to lyrics — the kind of spoken word thing, getting the right sound for Alex's guitar, and so on. It was kind of a dark horse. And then in the mixing, it all came together. When we finished it, we were so pleased with what happened, because we kind of had the least expectations of it, because of the difficulty we had. I think a lot of musicians probably go through a similar thing, where they have this one song that they beat themselves up over, and then the next thing you know, it's their biggest song.

How has the forthcoming Rush documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage, turned out?

It's hard for me to watch myself up on the screen, talking for two hours. It's really kind of funny to look at a lot of the old stuff — they found some amazing, really obscure photographs and movies. It's kind of nice to see other people talking about us in a kind of objective sense. I was pretty amazed that certain people were Rush fans, like Billy Corgan, for example. He was very well-spoken in the film, and seems to really understand where we're coming from. That was quite a surprise for me.

Lastly, who would win in a battle, By-Tor or the Snow Dog?

Well, always By-Tor, if you ask me.

Why?

Because I'm By-Tor! [Laughs]

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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