From Pink Floyd to Jimi Hendrix: Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson pick their favourite songs ever
Few bands command as much respect as Rush. The Canadian prog-rock group will be remembered as legends of their respective instruments with the late, great Neil Peart on drums, Geddy Lee on bass and Alex Lifeson on guitar.
Below, the latter two members of the band joined Guitar World to bring together 20 tracks that have directly influenced them and the ones they would consider to be their favourites with moments in the sun for The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and more.
Rush are undoubtedly one of the most individually gifted bands of all time. On each of their respective instruments Lee, Lifeson and Peart were the ultimate players. But what were the songs that influenced them and guided their playing towards the magnificent? Below, we have the perfect playlist.
The two members of the band were asked separately about their favourite songs and each chose 11 songs that influenced them. Perhaps because of their age or their work together but Lee and Lifeson chose two of the same tracks, Led Zeppelin’s ‘How Many More Times’ and The Who’s ‘My Generation’.
About the latter song, Lee selected the Live At Leeds version of the track and said: “Townshend even plays a few solos, which he usually never does. Was there anybody better at expressing themselves through power chords? I just loved that record, and I know Alex did, too. Every time we jammed as a young band we would wind up jamming parts of that record.”
Townshend’s guitar sound may be a dream for some nut for Lifeson, Hendrix remains the ultimate guitarist. Selecting two tracks from the guitar genius, Lifeson said of his Bob Dylan cover ‘All Along The Watchtower’: “This is one of the most beautiful songs and arrangements ever recorded. Hendrix took a Bob Dylan folk song and turned it into a symphony. The acoustic guitar on this song [played by Dave Mason] has such beautiful compression.”
Adding: “It doesn’t slap you; it caresses you. This song grabs your heart and sails away with it; it sounds unlike anything anyone has ever done. That was the magic of Hendrix: even if you copied what he recorded and tried to play like him, it could never be the same.”
As well as Hendrix, Lifeson picked some notable bands from The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who to Buffalo Springfield. The latter saw Lifeson pick the song ‘For What It’s Worth’: “This was the first rock song that had a big influence on me. I remember hearing it on the radio in my dad’s car when I was a kid. Buffalo Springfield were unlike the other bands of the ‘San Francisco sound’; they were more country sounding. Stephen Stills and Neil Young trade leads on this one.”
Geddy Lee also paid tribute to those influences and hinted that Rush were deeply influenced by Jethro Tull. “In my view, this is the first truly successful concept album by a British prog-rock band. They even brought a flute into heavy rock music. How dare they! [laughs].”
As well as paying attention to Jethro Tull, Lee also paid tribute to other notable British acts like Genesis and the brilliant Clapton-led band Cream. Picking their song ‘Spoonful’ Lee highlighted that it was Jack Bruce who was the real star: “For me, ‘Spoonful’ was more about Jack Bruce’s great voice and adventurous playing. Bruce, like all the bass players I’ve mentioned, wasn’t content to be a bottom-end, stayin’-the-background bassist.”
Lee continued: “He’s playing a Gibson bass obviously too loud, to where it’s distorting the speakers. But it gave him this aggressive sound and a kind of spidery tone, and I love everything about it.” It’s the perfect summation of Rush as an entire band. Not only happy to appreciate and heap praise on others but also to turn it inward and improve upon oneself.
It’s just a few small parts of what makes a fantastic playlist as Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson pick their favourite songs of all time. Here you can find the full interview and below you can find the perfect playlist.
Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson pick their favourite songs of all time:
‘Sink The Bismarck’ – Johnny Horton
‘For What It’s Worth’ – Buffalo Springfield
‘Shapes of Things’ – Jeff Beck
‘My Generation’ – The Who
‘Are You Experienced?’ – Jimi Hendrix
‘All Along The Watchtower’ – Jimi Hendrix
‘How Many More Times’ – Led Zeppelin
‘Kashmir’ – Led Zeppelin
‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ – The Rolling Stones
‘Comfortably Numb’ – Pink Floyd
‘In The Dead of Night’ – U.K.
‘Third Eye’ – Tool
‘Ah Via Musicom’ – Eric Johnson
‘Thick as a Brick’ – Jethro Tull
‘Time And a Word’ – Yes
‘I Ain’t Superstitious’ – Jeff Beck
‘Over Under Sideways Down’ – The Yardbirds
‘Watcher of the Skies’ – Genesis
‘3/5 of a Mile in Ten Seconds’ – Jefferson Airplane