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Music

The Rush song that is dedicated to getting high

@TylerGolsen

Canadian prog legends Rush always had a special connection with marijuana. Coming out of the freewheeling 1960s but largely shunning psychedelic drugs, the band members instead found solace in weed, which they dutifully partook in for most of their initial success. Sometimes it worked, like when Alex Lifeson used the spacey mental atmosphere of a hazy studio to conjure up the solo for ‘Limelight’, and sometimes it didn’t, like on the recording of Caress of Steel.

“Do things go better with pot? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t,” Lifeson told High Times in 2012. “I find that you can be very imaginative when stoned, you can be very creative – but implementation is sometimes difficult. In the past, there have been times when I’ve been really inspired in writing and came up with things that I would never otherwise think up. But the actual playing can be obstructed a little bit.”

“In the very, very early days, occasionally – well, more than ‘occasionally’ – Neil and I would smoke a joint before going on,” Lifeson continued. “I mean, this is in the mid-70s; I would never, ever do something like that now. I won’t even have a sip of beer before a show, because I need to be extremely clearheaded. Of course, some people can smoke and remain clearheaded – just not me.”

It was no secret that Rush had an affinity for the green stuff, something that was reflected by the legions of stoners who became die-hard Rush fanatics. “We have one of the finest, most aromatic audiences you’ll ever find in rock and roll,” Geddy Lee joked during the band’s appearance on the series Classic Albums for their LPs 2112 and Moving Pictures. It was on the former album’s side two opener ‘A Passage to Bangkok’ that showed the band acknowledging their debt to “higher” activities. 

“That should be self-evident – it’s about a fun little journey to all the good places you could go to have a puff,” Lifeson explained. “We thought it would be kind of fun to write a song about that, and Neil did it in a very eloquent way, I think. That song was probably written in a farmhouse, on an acoustic guitar, in front of a little cassette player of some sort. We would record like that and then go down in the basement and rehearse it.”

Chronicling all the best stops to procure some top quality cannabis, ‘A Passage to Bangkok’ not only includes its titular stop, but also gets around to Bogota, where locals “pass along a sample of their yield”, and the “sweet Jamaican pipe dreams” that get paired with “golden Acapulco nights”. Just to make the connection crystal clear, Rush and producer Terry Brown included a long toke after the second chorus, right before Lifeson launches into a psychedelic solo.

Check out ‘A Passage to Bangkok’ down below.