Rush fan-favourite instrumental was created without guitarist Alex’s help, he reveals in track-by-track breakdown of landmark 1981 album Moving Pictures


Moving moment: Rush

Rush frontman Geddy Lee and drummer Neil Peart wrote the band’s classic instrumental track YYZ – while guitarist Alex Lifeson played with a remote control plane.

Lifeson reveals the story in a track-by-track breakdown of the band’s landmark 1981 album Moving Pictures, which was recently re-released in a double-disc anniversary format. The Canadian three-piece are currently perfuming the record in full on tour.

Lifeson tells Music Radar: “Ged and Neil wrote YYZ. I was busy working on my plane that day. I had this remote control plane that I spent weeks and weeks building – then I crashed it to pieces.

“It was a beautiful time. We’d spend the weeks working and on weekends we’d drive home to Toronto. Everything just flowed. Electricity was in the air.”

Rush were on a high after the success of breakthrough album Permanent Waves. They worked out Moving Pictures’ nine tracks in a rented house in Ontario in the summer of 1980, before recording in Quebec.

Rush live in Sweden

Lifeson says: “We’d gone from playing clubs and theatres and we were now selling out big places – we were at that cusp of coming into our own. The whole vibe was fun.

“We knew they were good songs, but did we ever think they’d be considered standards? Not at all. All we tried to do was please ourselves.”

The title of YYZ came from the morse-code callsign the band heard during a flight to Toronto. The track was nominated for a Grammy, and is still popular with fans alongside Tom Sawyer, Limelight and Red Barchetta.

In performing the record live the band have found a new appreciation for The Camera Eye, a song they’d felt less positive about until recently.

Lifeson says: “A lot of the song came from separate parts that were written then connected. I think that’s why we had a problem embracing it fully – it was hard work. There’s some difficult playing there. The guitar solo took me a while to get right.

“Neil does an amazing job on it. And Geddy, he’s playing bass, singing, playing bass pedals and keyboards. It’s something else.

“Funnily enough it’s become one of our favourites now. The crowd really responds to it too. Our feeling is, we haven’t just resurrected a song – we’ve improved it.”

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