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"Listen to my music/And hear what it can do/There's something here as strong as life/I know that it will reach you..."
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2112 is the fourth studio album by the Canadian Progressive Rock band Rush, released in 1976. The album counts as the band's Breakthrough Hit, and saved the band's record contract at a point during which they were in danger of getting dropped from their label. The record label had asked the band to move in a more commercially friendly and accessible direction, but Rush disregarded this request and constructed the album around the twenty-minute Title Track, a Science Fiction Rock Opera about a dystopian future. "2112" has since become one of Rush's Signature Songs, and the album is considered the point where Rush grew the beard.

The album is sometimes called a Concept Album, but only the first side really qualifies. Lyricist Neil Peart began writing lyrics for the title suite without any specific inspiration in mind, but upon finishing it, noted that it had substantial similarities to Ayn Rand's novella Anthem. This prompted him to add a note that Rand had inspired the piece in the original liner notes to the album, since he did not want to plagiarise. This eventually became a case of Never Live It Down, particularly after Peart's political leanings grew more distant from Rand's. Peart eventually removed the note in reissues of the album.

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The album has been well received overall and remains one of Rush's most popular and well-liked albums among fans. The title track is particularly popular, while "A Passage to Bangkok" and "Something for Nothing" remain other fan favourites.

Personnel

Band

  • Geddy Lee – lead vocals, bass guitar
  • Alex Lifeson – electric and acoustic guitar
  • Neil Peart – drums, percussion

Guests

  • Hugh Syme – ARP Odyssey intro on "2112", mellotron on "Tears"

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Track listing

Side One

  1. "2112" (20:34)
    1. "Overture" (4:33)
    2. "The Temples of Syrinx" (2:12)
    3. "Discovery" (3:29)
    4. "Presentation" (3:43)
    5. "Oracle: The Dream" (2:00)
    6. "Soliloquy" (2:21)
    7. "Grand Finale" (2:17)

Side Two

  1. "A Passage to Bangkok" (3:32)
  2. "The Twilight Zone" (3:16)
  3. "Lessons" (3:51)
  4. "Tears" (3:30)
  5. "Something for Nothing" (3:59)

We are the tropes of the temples of Syrinx

  • All There in the Manual: The lyrics for "2112" provide additional context for the events of the story, although they're not really necessary to get the gist of what's going on.
  • Arc Number: As it was Rush's breakthrough album, the band frequently used its title as an Easter Egg later in their career, especially (appropriately enough) in their 21st century releases, such as unlocking a bonus video on the Rush in Rio DVD and the clock face on the cover of Clockwork Angels.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The only lines in "Overture" are "And the meek shall inherit the earth".
  • Author Tract: Peart's lyrics often come across this way, but they're generally endearingly so.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The intended interpretation of the ending of "2112": the protagonist is Driven to Suicide, but the Elder Race from his dreams comes and overthrows the oppressive dystopia of the setting.
  • Breather Episode: "Tears"
  • Broken Record: "Grand Finale" ends with a voice saying "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation" three times, followed by "We have assumed control" three times.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Life in the Solar Federation seems nice on the surface, at least by dystopia standards, and at the very least gives the Elder Race a good bedrock to create a genuinely pleasant world once they're done reducing the Temples of Syrinx to rubble, but as "The Temples of Syrinx" makes clear, however the Priests have salvaged society has come at the cost of individual expression, as that "doesn't fit the plan", resulting in an empty and monotonous life for ordinary people.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The protagonist of "2112" after his guitar is smashed, and then even more so after dreaming of a better world.
  • Distinct Single Album: The first side is given over to the title track, and the five songs on the other side are unrelated to its story. This was not the first time Rush did that and it would not be the last; other examples can be found on Caress Of Steel and Hemispheres.
  • Dramatic Irony: The protagonist of "2112" is Driven to Suicide after reaching the conclusion that the events depicted in his dream would never occur. After this, said events occur exactly the way he dreamed them.
  • Driven to Suicide: The protagonist of "2112" commits suicide after losing faith in his vision of the Elder Race.
    I wish that it might come to pass
    Not fade like all my dreams
    Just think of what my life might be
    In a world like I have seen
    I don’t think I can carry on
    This cold and empty life
    [...]
    My spirits are low, in the depths of despair
    My lifeblood spills over...
  • Dystopia: "2112" is set in a world where the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx have forbidden all individual expression and strictly control the lives and entertainment of the populace.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Overture" has no lyrics until the very end.
  • Epic Rocking: The 20:34 title track, probably the most famous example in the band's discography and one of the most famous in the history of progressive rock. It remains the longest single track in their discography.
  • Erudite Stoner: The lyrics to "A Passage to Bangkok" describe a number of locations that at the time were associated with drug tourism and contain several not very subtle Double Entendres about marijuana use, although they refrain from explicitly naming any drugs. They are still quite witty and allusive, as most of Peart's lyrics are.
  • Fading into the Next Song: "2112" often feels like an example of this, because the distinctions between the movements are usually quite pronounced. However, most CD releases of the album have it indexed as a single track.
  • Grand Finale: The movement named, well, "Grand Finale".
  • Hypocrite: The Priests of the Temples of Syrinx go on about "equality, our stock and trade", but they're the only ones allowed to play guitar.
  • Last Note Nightmare: While it depicts what ends up qualifying as a Bittersweet Ending, the ending of "2112" is musically rather unsettling, with spoken word in a robotic monotone and some fairly chaotic dissonance.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: The line listed above in As the Good Book Says... is the only one in "Overture", and the ones in Broken Record are the only ones in "Grand Finale".
  • Or Was It a Dream?: As mentioned above, the events depicted in the protagonist's dream in "2112" end up coming true.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: Inverted. The title for this page is taken from Geddy introducing the title track on All the World's a Stage using the shorthand pronunciation "twenty-one twelve", rather than "two thousand, one hundred, and twelve" or some variation thereof.
  • Record Producer: Rush and Terry Brown.
  • Revised Ending: The rerelease's motion comicnote  musical 2112 portrays what's probably the most optimist interpretation of the song's Ambiguous Ending. Rather than the protagonist committing suicide right before the Elder Race of Man arrived, their arrival interrupts his suicide, and he watches from the waterfall cave as they carpet bomb his city's Temple of Syrinx while announcing their overthrow of the Priests.
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: "2112" quotes the 1812 Overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. "A Passage to Bangkok" quotes what has been referred to as the Oriental riff, which first appeared in an Aladdin stage show, The Grand Chinese Spectacle of Aladdin or The Wonderful Lamp.
  • Rock Opera: The title track.
  • Spoken Word in Music: The lyrics in "Grand Finale" are spoken.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Tears"
  • The Theocracy: The Solar Federation appears to be one of these, given that its tyrannical government is run by a clerical order.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: As mentioned above, Peart felt 2112 was this to Anthem, which explains the credit in the original album. However, Anthem itself was one to We and several other dystopian classics, so the borrowing dates back quite some way. It's a fairly standard dystopian plot.

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