In honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of A FAREWELL TO KINGS.
What followed, 1977’s A Farewell to Kings, though, had far more in common with 1976’s 2112 than it would with 1980’s Permanent Waves. Not appearing on the market until September 1, 1977, A Farewell to Kings ended the new album every six months schedule Rush has followed thus far. A brilliant album in and of itself, A Farewell to Kings still belongs to Rush 2.1 as I have defined it. So does the follow-up album, Hemispheres. Certainly, Rush tried many new things—in terms of album structure, lyrical depth and story telling, and musical complexity—than it had on the first several albums. “We had written material that was a little beyond us, considering our level of musicianship at the time,” Lee later admitted.[i] But the progress is in continuity, a major reform rather than a revolution. “Our progress has always been sincere—not in an arrogant way, but for our own pleasure,” Peart stated in 1982. “We’ve always incorporated music from people we liked, so it has made us stylistically schizoid.”[ii]
While there are no side length tracks on A Farewell to Kings, the album revolves around its two major songs, “Xanadu” at 11 minutes in length and “Cygnus X-1” at almost ten and 1/2 minutes. Thematically, Peart continues to embrace both the fantastic—“Xanadu” based on the iconic romantic English poem, “Kubla Kahn,” by Samuel Coleridge—and science-fiction, “Cygnus X-1.” At the time, Peart lauded fantasy writing in lyrics. “It’s a way to put a message across without being oppressive.”[iii]